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A Nazirite New Year

Numbers 6:1-4
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. … All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.”

A Nazirite vow is a special vow of consecration, a way for pilgrims already seeking the face of the Almighty to draw a little nearer, to move further up and further in as Lewis poignantly wrote it in The Chronicles of Narnia. But it’s always difficult, always against the grain of our ambitions, and always a battle between the will and the appetites.

Imagine if God had prescribed the opposite here though. What if he’d inverted it, that is? Think of how many devoted, life-long Nazarites you’d see joining this pilgrimage if God had said something like, “Pig out in your love for Me! Get drunk in your commitment! Vow that from this day forward you’ll only eat the tastiest, juiciest fruits and drink only the sweetest, most feel-good liquors!” What if the lines, ‘Eat drink, and be merry!’, and ‘Seek first the Kingdom of heaven’ were one and the same?! Had that been the case, Abraham’s descendants might’ve outnumbered the stars in a single generation.

But that isn’t the way to progress, is it? We know intuitively that consecration to any cause requires self- sacrifice, self-discipline, and self-deprivation, which is why we make resolutions every new year to overcome yesterday’s shortcomings and re-commit to doing better today. But a Nazirite vow goes deeper than merely getting out of credit card debt or losing weight or starting a new hobby. The ultimate ambition of this hallowed enterprise isn’t basic self-improvement, but spiritual advancement. And that requires getting away from the din of our fleshly impulses long enough to hear the whisper of the Spirit.

Today, for the next twelve hours or so, make a Nazirite-type resolution to God, friend. Give up something good, something sweet, something beneficial, something like coffee or your favorite TV show or a trip to the gym—the favorite fruit of your vine—and feast on the LORD by faith instead.