Sunday, May 4, 2014

Numbers 6

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 6. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • God, through Moses, explains to the Israelites the details of something called a Nazirite Vow. If an Israelite wanted to show their devotion to God in a special way, they could commit to this vow.
  • The conditions of the Nazirite Vow seem oddly restrictive, especially by today's standards: the person couldn't consume any sort of fermented drink, or grapes, or even raisins. And they couldn't cut their hair.
  • Verse 8 explains that the purpose of the Nazirite Vow was not just to give up a bunch of foods or habits, but to stop doing some things in order to focus on God. (We've seen the word "consecrate" a lot during our Old Testament readings. It simply means to set apart, or dedicate, oneself for God.)
  • At the conclusion of the Vow, the person engaging in the Vow is instructed to bring certain kinds of sacrifices to God and participate in a ceremony led by a priest.
  • The chapter ends with a sort of rally cry given by God to the leaders who were in charge of the Israelites. God wanted the leaders to pass this message along to the Israelites so they would know he wanted the best for them.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Committing to follow Jesus means committing to leave sinful habits or tendencies behind. Unlike the Israelites, we don't have to worry about avoiding raisins or letting our hair grow out, but we all have sins we need to give up. We must be intentional about focusing on Jesus and giving up whatever a relationship with him requires us to give up.
  • It's important to note that God wants us to give up sinful things because he loves us. When you marry someone, you're committing to give up anything that would keep you from fully loving the person you marry. Likewise, when we commit our life to God, we give up bad things not because we're forced to but because we want to, out of love.
  • Because of Jesus, we don't have to rely on a priest or a fancy ceremony to make us right with God; we have full access to God through a relationship with Jesus.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there a sin or habit in your life that's keeping you from fully following Jesus? Maybe a secret you've been carrying? Talk to someone you trust about what is holding you back, and commit fully to your relationship with God.
  • Maybe there's something in your life that is not necessarily bad but is a bit of a distraction. What if you picked a set amount of time -- like a few days -- to go without that and to instead focus more on God? For example, what if you stayed off of social media for a few days and instead used that time to read your Bible or talk to God? Consider giving up something for a few days this week and see how it helps you grow closer to God.