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Scripture reading – Numbers 6-7

Numbers 6 – The Nazarite Vow and the Aaronic Priestly Blessing

The law of the Nazarite, a voluntary vow, was instituted in Numbers 6. Considered a vow of consecration, a man or woman could “vow a vow of a Nazarite” (6:2), and it was a vow of abstinence and separation unto the LORD.

A Nazarite vow consisted of three personal disavowals.

Abstaining from wine and strong drink (6:3-4) was the first. The second, as an outward sign of devotion, a Nazarite was not to cut his hair for the time of the vow (6:5). Thirdly, Nazarites were forbidden to touch a dead body, even that of a loved one (6:6-7). Finally, should one fail to keep the Nazarite vow and become unclean, there were prescribed steps for remediation and purification, including sacrifices to be offered to the LORD (6:9-12).

When the days of the Nazarites were fulfilled, they were to bring offerings to the Tabernacle before the LORD as a release from their vows (6:13). A burnt offering, sin offering, peace offering, meat or meal offering, and a drink offering were required (6:13-17). After offering sacrifices to be released from the vow, the head was to be shaved (6:19), a wave offering of thanksgiving given (6:20), and the Nazarite was then allowed to drink wine (6:20). (The matter of drinking wine is one I will take up in the future; however, be assured the wine mentioned here was not the distilled, strong drink of our day.)

The Priestly Prayer for God’s People (6:24-27)

Numbers 6 concludes with one of the most beautiful prayers and blessings in the Scriptures. The Aaronic prayer expresses the heart of the LORD for His people and represents the heart of a spiritual shepherd. I will allow the beauty of the prayer to speak for itself without commentary:

 “The Lord bless thee, and keep [watch, guard] thee: 25The Lord make his face shine [illuminate] upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:24-27).

Numbers 7 – The Dedication of the Tabernacle, the Altar, the Vessels, and Instruments Used in the Offerings

After much planning and following the detailed guidelines set forth by the LORD, the Tabernacle was set up, anointed, and sanctified (7:1). The altar, vessels, and instruments to be used for offerings were consecrated to the LORD. Then, the princes of the Twelve Tribes and the heads of households “brought their offering before the Lord, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle” (7:3).

What purpose did the wagons and oxen serve?

They were presented for the “service” (7:5) and ministry of the Tabernacle and employed by the Levites when transporting the Tabernacle and its furnishings during Israel’s sojourn (7:4-10). The Gershonites were allotted two wagons and four oxen, “according to their service” (7:7). The ministry of the Gershonites was the care of the draperies, curtains, and coverings of the Tabernacle (4:24-28).

The Merarites were assigned four wagons and eight oxen, “according unto their service” (7:8). They required more wagons and oxen because they were charged with the greater weight (i.e., the boards and pillars that made up the frame of the Tabernacle, 4:31-32).

The Kohathites were not given wagons or oxen “because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders” (7:9). The Kohathites were responsible for transporting the Ark, the table, the lampstand, and the altar (4:5-20). Those objects, central to Israel’s worship and sacrifices, were to be carried upon the shoulders of the Kohathites with staves or rods.

Closing thoughts:

Numbers 7 concluded with the record of the offerings and sacrifices that each tribe was to bring on its assigned day as the Tabernacle and its vessels were dedicated (7:10-88). You will notice that the offerings brought by each of the tribes were identical. Why the repetition? I believe the twelve days of dedication, and the naming of the sacrifices that were brought, added to the solemnity of the dedication and gave each tribe its sense of standing with the LORD.

With the sum of the offerings accounted (7:84-88), Moses, though not a priest,  was given an extraordinary audience with the LORD in His sanctuary (7:89). There, Moses heard the voice of the LORD “speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him” (7:89).

I conclude with my prayer for each of you reading today’s devotion.

Numbers 6:24-26 – “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26  The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace [shalom].”

Questions to consider:

1) From what was a man or a woman to abstain when vowing the vow of a Nazarite? (Numbers 6:3-8)

2) How were Aaron and his sons to bless the people? (Numbers 6:24-26).

3) How did Moses dedicate the Tabernacle and vessels to the LORD? (Numbers 7:1)

4) Who participated in the dedication of the Tabernacle, and what did they offer to the LORD? (Numbers 7:2-3)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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