Friday, April 9, 2010

Holy Hair!

In the previous chapter of Numbers, God described a shamanistic methodology in which He would play the role of an abortion doctor, causing supernatural miscarriages, to expose the sins of an adulterous wife. Moving on to lighter matters, God chooses the next chapter to talk about hair care, among other things.

Holy Hair!
God is great, and God is good, but sometimes you may want to show God how much you appreciate Him beyond just thanking Him for your food. Sometimes, you may want to go all out to truly show your devotion to God. Well, you are in luck! God has instructions for you to show your devotion; instructions for becoming a Nazirite.

You may be saying to yourself: “Wow, that is just what I was looking for! How do I become a Nazirite to show my love for God?” Well, let us take a look. Shall we? We will be studying Numbers 6:1-21.

Starting in Numbers 6:1-2, we see that either a man or a woman can make a vow to become a Nazirite. It is an equal opportunity, which is good! We also see that the vow to become a Nazirite is a vow of separation for God. So what does that mean exactly?

Well, for starters, a vow of separation for God means abstaining from any alcohol, such as wine, or vinegar. In fact, a Nazirite should abstain from grapes, raisins, grape leaves, or anything associated with the grape vine (Numbers 6:3-4).

You know, just like Jesus abstained from... Oh, wait. Jesus drank both wine (Matthew 11:19) and vinegar (John 19:29-30). Jesus even used a parable of a grape vine to describe Himself, urging believers to become part of His vine (John 15:1-8). This is a complete failure for foreshadowing Jesus and Christianity, which is particularly odd given that this involves a vow of dedication for God. But I digress...

A Nazirite must let his or her hair grow untrimmed for the period of the vow (Numbers 6:5). Why is that? Well, the hair essentially becomes a holy offering to God. While “holy hair” is not explicitly claimed, its implicit significance is hard to deny. Consider the following:

While under a Nazirite vow, you could not come near a dead body. Why? Because the symbol of your vow to God is on your head. Even if one of your close family members died, like your own mom, you could not pay your final respects to her body (Numbers 6:6-8).

If you did come near a dead body, such as if someone dies suddenly in your presence, your holy hair would become defiled. Such an encounter set off a chain of ceremonial cleaning events, which included a sin offering (pigeon), a burnt offering (pigeon), and a guilt offering (year-old male lamb). The process made atonement for your sin of being near a dead body. (Yes, apparently you need atonement for sins over which you may have had absolutely no control. That seems fair. Right?) Once your head is shaved and your sins are atoned, you must begin the full duration of your vow from its beginning to compensate for this mistake (Numbers 6:9-12).

You see, just like hair is used in drug testing because of its residual record of effects, it seems that all sins get trapped into body hair. That had to be why God made the Levites shave all the hair off of their entire bodies when they underwent a purification ceremony (Numbers 8:6-7).

Now if you manage to avoid dead bodies for the full duration of your Nazirite vow, then you get the opportunity to make a special offering to God. No mere pigeons will suffice this time. You need two one-year-old male lambs, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. You also need a ram for fellowship offering. And a grain offering. And a drink offering. And a basket of bread and wafers (Numbers 6:13-15). The priest is kind enough to officiate the offerings and take his share (Numbers 6:16-17).

Then, the moment you have waited for happens! You get to stand at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, in front of the very presence of God. You then shave your head and present your hair as a burnt offering in the fire under the fellowship offering (Numbers 6:18).

After that, you do a little ceremony with a shoulder of the sacrificed ram, a piece of bread, and a wafer, followed by your first savory drink of wine (Numbers 6:19-20).

So there you have it! That is how you vow yourself to God as a Nazirite!

I know you are saying to yourself: “Gee, just lots of hair, two lambs, a ram, grain, drink, bread, and wafer offerings is all I need to give to God to fulfill this vow? But I have so much more to offer.” Do not worry. God does expect you to additionally offer anything that you can afford (Numbers 6:21).

Some of you may instead be wondering: “What is in it for me to make this vow?” How about the fact that there is a chance that God will grant you super powers! The Biblical hero Samson was a Nazirite. Only instead of being a Nazirite from his own vow, an angel told his parents to make him a Nazirite from the time of his birth (Judges 13:2-5). He personally slaughtered 4030 men, including 1000 of his fellow Israelites (Judges 15:9-17), throughout his lifetime due to the power from his hair. But once his hair was shaved, he had no power until it started to grow back. Read all about it in Judges 16.

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