Nazirites and Nativity….

18 03 2011

DAY SEVENTY-SIX : Numbers 5 v. 11 – 6 v. 27; Luke 2 v. 1 – 20; Proverbs 7 v. 6 – 20


NUMBERS
An Unfaithful Wife – if a husband suspects his wife of infidelity (whether or not she has), he is to take her to the priest for a ritual designed to find her out. The priest receives a jealousy offering (of barley flour), or a reminder offering. Holy water is contaminated with some dust from the ground. When the woman drinks the contaminated water, the ‘curse’ over her states that if she suffers and her thigh wastes away and her abdomen swells, she is guilty of adultery; if she continues to be well and to bear children, she is not guilty of adultery.

Why weren’t we taught this at Ministerial Training college – such a ritual could be just what we need, if we think ministerial life needs even more ‘spice’ adding to it !!

Although my study bible rightly suggests this ritual might be as much to protect the woman from her husband’s unjust jealousy (a chance to prove her innocence), I am reminded about the feelings around the threat of stoning the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus – how come the man goes free ?
Why is the man exempt from this priestly ritual ?
Isn’t his guilt as real as hers ?

The Nazirite – a special vow of separation to make one a Nazirite, abstaining from alcohol, from grapes and juice; never cutting the hair on his head; no contact with a dead body;
“Throughout the period of his separation, he is consecrated to the Lord.”
(If he is present when someone dies, he must cut his hair on the seventh day, then offer sin and burnt offerings on the eighth day, and start his vow of separation all over again).
At the end of the vow of separation, there’s a ritual at the Tent of Meeting – a burnt offering (unblemished lamb), a sin offering (a ewe), a fellowship offering (a ram), and grain and drink offerings, unleavened bread, cakes and wafers….wow, what a lot (and expensive) to offer.
His dedicated hair is cut off and thrown in the fire under the altar.
The priest brings a wave offering from all that has been brought.
Then, the Nazirite is free to drink alcohol again.

‘the careful attention to detail in all of this speaks of the importance of voluntary dedication to God, even for a set time, and the seriousness with which any relationship with Him must be taken.’

Priestly Blessing –
the powerfully moving Aaronic blessing
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord look on you with kindness (lift up His countenance upon you / turn His face towards you)
and give you peace”

I love the sense of God ‘putting His name’ on His people (counted and named, as in the Census), and sending His blessing(s).


LUKE
Jesus is Born – Census time again ! People on the move. Caesar Augustus issued the census decree for tax purposes, but it gets Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem where it had been foretold that the Messiah would be born (Micah 5 v. 2). Joseph is a direct descendant of David, so registers in Bethlehem.
“…the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no roon for them in the inn.”
‘firstborn’ – Mary had other children after Jesus (four brothers and several sisters).
‘in a manger’ – not ‘quaint’ as often depicted, but brutally humble surroundings for the King of Kings.
 
Shepherds and Angels – I am always fascinated that the news is broken first to humble shepherds (one of the ‘lowest of the low’ jobs) on the night-shift ! What a glorious passage of scripture – angels, bright lights, ‘good news of great joy for all people’, a Saviour born for you, a sign (baby in a manger).
‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all on whom His favour rests.’
The shepherds hurry off and find everything just as they’d been told. They are the first ‘evangelists’, gossiping the good news.
Mary, gently stores all this up, pondering in her heart all that has just happened.

humble manger, humble shepherds
humble birth, God on earth
angels singing, good news bringing
light and peace and joy and mirth
HALLELUJAH
GLORY TO GOD

PROVERBS
mmm, beware the one who entices you with a spicy bed (perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon) !!!
He who ‘lacks judgement’ is vulnerable to being enticed.

Lord, grant us wisdom, knowledge, insight and judgement,
that we may not fall into traps laid for us, today.

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