Numbers 5-6
(Restitutions, Nazirites, and Blessings)
February 9th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel; tell them, If any of you, man or woman, wants to make a special Nazirite vow, consecrating yourself totally to God, you must not drink any wine or beer, no intoxicating drink of any kind, not even the juice of grapes—in fact, you must not even eat grapes or raisins. For the duration of the consecration, nothing from the grapevine—not even the seeds, not even the skin—may be eaten."

- Numbers 6:1-6 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

In these two chapters, God gives instructions for keeping the purity of the camp, defines restitutions for wrongs, institutes the Nazirite vow, and tells Moses how Aaron should bless the people.

In the beginning of chapter 5, the LORD re-iterates two rules that we had read earlier: The prohibition against allowing persons with skin disease into the camp and the protocol for restitution of wrong (repayment in full plus 1/5th of the value). He then adds a new procedure for dealing with allegations of adultery.

Chapter 6 describes the LORD’s regulations for someone who chooses to dedicate himself to the LORD as a Nazirite. He must set himself apart from the rest of the community by doing the following: Abstaining from drinking wine or grape juice, allowing his hair to grow long, and avoiding contact with dead bodies - which would result in defilement. There is also a defined process for celebrating the end of his service period and his return to the rest of the community. The final part of this chapter depicts the LORD’s instructions for how Aaron should bless the people:

    "The LORD bless you
       and keep you;
    the LORD make his face shine on you
       and be gracious to you;
    the LORD turn his face toward you
       and give you peace."

    -Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

Reflection and Application

We have seen some of these rules before but they are worth repeating. The acts of cheating and stealing did not disappear from the world just because God commanded us not to do it. Instead he allowed us free will. Although we have become a civilized, modern, and caring society we continue to struggle with these concepts. Therefore, the general principles from Numbers and other books are timeless. When we wrong someone we should do more than apologize – if possible, we should leave the victim even better off than before.

Today's reading introduces the concept of the Nazirite, which is an important part of a number of the narratives that we will read later in the year. On future dates we will read about several key people in the Bible who had become committed Nazirites, most notable of which are Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. We will learn about Samson in the book of Judges, Samuel in 1st and 2nd Samuel, and John the Baptist in the Gospels of the New Testament.

For instance, many generations had passed since the Exodus when Samuel was dedicated by his mother, Hannah. We will read in 1 Samuel 1 that she had been praying for a child and promised that if she received one that that she would dedicate him to God. She gave birth to Samuel and fulfilled her promise. Samuel served in the temple and played an important role in the development of the nation of Israel. He anointed the unlikely candidate of David to be king of Israel. David did become the second king and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He also made some serious mistakes, but had a heart for the LORD.

A blessing is something that we can ask for others. We could ask for any type of blessing, but should consider taking guidance from the one that God describes in 6:24-26: Receive favor and protection, be pleasing to God, and receive mercy, approval, and peace. He told Aaron to deliver this blessing because it is an indication of how much he loves his people. The power of this blessing has allowed it to stand the test of time for Jews and Christians. It is referenced later in the Bible (such as Psalm 31:16) and is often used as a benediction at the end of a church service or wedding. Perhaps this blessing from the book of Numbers was an inspiration for the traditional Irish blessing shown below:

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    and rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

For all Christians, the blessing described in Numbers and the opportunity for God to hold us in the palm of his hand is now received through Christ - if we accept his offer of grace.

"May the Road Rise Up to Meet You"

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What rules do you like reviewing over and over? Your first response might be none, but give it some careful thought before you move on.
    2. In what ways can we dedicate ourselves to God?
    3. What blessing would you like to offer for others today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, please shine your face upon us today and help us accept your grace and peace

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Those who have been cheated and not given restitution

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Numbers 7 (Completion of the Tabernacle)

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