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Biblical Illustrator Num 6

Biblical Illustrator Num 6

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 24, 2011
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BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR UM 6CHAPTER VI.VKrs. 1-21. A vo\7 of a azarlte. — The law of von-s (irith .special reference to theKuzurite) : — 1. The principle of the vow is that <3od has placed earth's goodthingsCHAP. VI.] UMBERS.at man's disposal ; and it is a becoming thing in him to give so mucli of it back toGod (1 Chron. xxix, 14, 16 ; Jonah i. 16). But once made, there was no option inthe performance of the vow. o vow was better than a voiv unpaid (Deut. xxiii.21, 22 : Eccles. v. 4-6). 2. The subjects of vows were endless as a m m's posses-sions. They extended even to the person of himself or others over whom he mighthave control (Lev. xxvii). 3. But the vow at once most prominent in the OldTestament, and coming nearest to the personal consecration asked for in the ew,is that of the azarite. The azaritish vow is explainable neither on the onehand as stoicism, nor on the other as a mystic representation of the Divine powerworking in man. It represents the ideal of sacrifice, in the devotement of a man'sown person to God. I. The makes of dedication laid upon the azarite. 1. Heis to abstain from all alcoholic liquor; and, to avoid danger or suspicion, mustabstain from all that comes from the vine (chap. vi. 3, 4). As a similar regulationwas made regarding the priests when in God's service (Lev. x. 9), the inference isthat indulgence in strong drink specially unfits a man for God's presence or in-dwelling. 2. He is to leave his hair unshorn (chap. vi. 5), obvious'ly as a badge of his position. The meaning of the azarite's long hair, i.e. his subjection to God,gives meaning to the woman's long hair (1 Cor. xi. 10), viz. her subjection to man.3. He must not come into contact with the dead (chap. vi. 7). The lesson lay inthe close connection between death and sin, and carried the promise of victory overdeath to him who sought the victory over sin. IL The EXAiirLEs pbesented inScRiPTDEE OF THE azabite vow. The VOW wp.s generally taken for a shortperiod — from thirty to sixty days — and probably its very commonness prevents its beingmuch noticed in Scripture. But there are some notable examples of azarites forlife. Samson was, in the full sense of the word, a life-azarite (.Judges xiii. ). Inthe case of Samuel (1 Sam. i. 11), no mention is maile of abstinence, and in the
case of John Baptist (Luke i. 15) no mention is made of the hair ; but it is probablethat they were both full azarites. III. Its application to ourselves. 1. InBible times it was a permissible and honourable thiug to abstain from intoxicatingdrinks. When God had any specially great or holy work for a man to do. He wouldhave him a azarite or an abstainer (Lev. x. 9, &c.). He classes the azarite withthe prophet (Amos ii. 11). Have we any less reason to-day to be abstainers thanthese men had ? 2. The azaritish vow raises the question of our entire consecra-tion to God. Christ was not an abstainer because He is the one perfect exnmple of consecration, and representative of the body which shall yet stand in its completedfreedom before God. There will be no vows in heaven, because at every momentthe heart's choice will be all that it should be. But if we put vows from us now,we have to ask, Is it because we are above them, or because we are below them?{W. Roberts, M.A.) The ordinance of azariteship : — 1. The fruit of the vine, inevery shape and form, was to him a forbidden thing. ow, wine, as we know, isthe apt symbol of earthly joy^the expression of that social enjoyment which thehuman heart is so fully capable of entering into. From this the azarite in thewilderness was sedulously to keep himself. It is a very grave question indeed howfar we, as Christians, are really entering into the meaning and power of this intenseseparation from all the excitement of nature and from all merely earthly joy. Itmay perhaps be said, " What harm is there in having a little amusement or recrea-tion? Has not God given us richly all things to enjoy ? And while we are in tlieworld, is it not right that we should enjoy it? " We reply, it is not a question of the harm of this, that, or the other. Tliere was no harm, as a general rule, inwine, nothing abstractedly wrong in the vine tree. The question for us is this,Do we aim at being azarites? Do we sigh after thorough separation and devote-ment of ourselves, in body, soul, and spirit, unto God ? If so, we must be apartfrom all these things in which mere nature finds its enjoyment. 2. But th^re wasanother thing which marked the azarite. He was not to shave his head. Ir.1 Cor. xi. 14, we leaiii that it argues a lack of dignity for a man to have long hair.From this we learn that if we really desire to live a life of separation to God, wemust be prepai'ed to surrender our dignity in nature. ow here is just thevery thing which we so little like to do. We naturally stand up for our dignityand seek to maintain our rights. It is deemed manly so to do. But the perfectMan never did so ; and if we aim at being azarites we shall not do so either. Wemust surrender the dignities of nature, and forego the joys of earth, if we wouldtread a path of thorough separation to God in this world. By and by both willbe in place ; but not now. This simplifies the matter amazingly. It answers athousand questions and solves a thousand difficulties. It is of little use to split36 THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. [chap. vi.
hairs about the harm of this or that particular thing. The question is, What isour real purpose and object ? Do we merely want to get on as men, or do welong to live as true azarites ? 3. The azarite was not to touch a dead body (vers.6, 7). When once the consecration of God rested upon the head of any one, thatimportant fact became the touchstone of all morality. It placed the individual onentirely new ground, and rendered it imperative upon him to look at everythingfrom a peculiar point of view. He was no longer to ask what became him as aman; but what became him as a azarite. 4. We behold, in the person of theazarite, a type of one who sets out in some special path of devotrdness or conse-cration to Christ. The power of continuance in this path consists in secretcommunion with God ; so that if the communion be interrupted, the power is gone.(C. H. Machintosh.) azarite rvles : — 1. o juice of grape, no produce of thevine, may touch the consecrated lips. This principle is broad and deep. Fleewhatever may tend to weaken the firm energy, or to stir up the sleeping brood of sensual and ungodly lusts. More than gross vice is branded here. Evils mnyenter in a pigmy form. At first they may seem harmless. Avoid them. Tbey arethe cancer's touch. They are the weed's first seed. 2. o razor approaches theazarite's hair. His flowing locks openly announce his separate state. The dedi-cation must not be a secret act, known only to the conscience and the Lord.Religion is not for the closet or the knees alone. It is not a lily, growing only inthe shade. It is to be the one attire in which you move abroad — the holy crownwhich sparkles on your brow. 3. He must avoid all contact with the dead. Amongtbe living he must live. Wherefore is death to be thus shunned ? It is the penaltyof sin — the sign of God's most righteous wrath. It is a proof of innocence de-stroyed — of evil touched — of vengeance merited. It is abomination's colleague.Therefore it is emblem of what holy men should holily abhor. (Dean Law.)The azarite : — It is to be noticed here that tbis separation was voluntary and infull accordance with the self-determination of the will power. The azarite, of hisown choice, vowed a vow that for a certain time at least he would be all the Lord's.This indicated his conscious choice. He could make the vow, or he could declineto do so. In all his dealings with men, God recognises and honours their willpower. o one is coerced into His service. o one is over-con-trained to set him-self apart for God. And so it is with Christian holiness — the ew Testament ideaof azaritism. Men must first of all, by the Spirit of God, will to be all the Lord's.They must will to give up themselves, the world, and sin, and every wrong thing,and to be separated to God for ever. Those azarites to God were among thebrightest shining lights of the Jewish disjjensation. And is it not so now? Themore complete the consecration and separation the more blessed and wide-spreadand Divine is the light which shines out from this holy character. But there werecertain conditions of azariteship then, as there are now. First of all, the azaritewas to be a total abstainer. o man who gives himself up to the wine-cup can be

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