Thursday, February 14, 2013

Num 5-6: Purity

My daughter Katherine's name means purity. What came to mind when we named her was the sweet innocence of childhood. What we didn't realize was that purity also means undiluted: full strength, intense, potent, 200 proof; perfume, not toilet water.   Katie is more of the latter than the former and it is delightful. She is sweet and sometimes innocent, but more than anything, she throws herself fully into all that she does and is. 

God desires intense devotion to Him alone that embodies this kind of purity. 

Purity needed to extend to people's interactions with each other.  Any impurity of action required restitution of what was lost plus another 1/5th, regardless of whether the person was even still alive.  God is honest in His dealings and expects us to be pure in our dealings as well.  Cheating taints and dilutes our ability to do business to the Glory of God.

Purity in marriage has always been an issue and women were particularly vulnerable to a jealous husband's accusations.  The process for dealing with it leaves the result up to God to reveal, but even in the process, the wife must reaffirm that her devotion to her husband is pure--for her husband alone.

The ultimate commitment of purity in devotion was the Nazarite vow.  It showed singleminded devotion to God about all. Giving up the fruit of the vine symbolized rejection of the pleasures of this life.  Not cutting their hair symbolized rejecting the vanity of outward appearances.  Avoiding defilement from dead things shows that your life is bound up in the eternal God and even death has no power over you. 

There were two major Old Testament figures that held lifelong Nazarite vows: Samson and Samuel. Nothing can be given up to God without a powerful response from Him. Both men lived under tremendous power from the Holy Spirit.  As far as we can tell, Samuel kept this vow throughout his lifetime without interruption.  God honored his words, "letting none of them fall to the ground" and providing him with an intimacy that is rare in both Old and New Testaments.  Samson was to be a Nazarite from birth, but he showed contempt for the commitment required of his parents.  He drank and partied, which got him into trouble frequently.  He used the jawbone of a donkey to kill hundreds and ate honey out of a lion's caracass.  Eventually, when his hair was shaved off, the full vow was broken and the Holy Spirit left him without him even noticing.  As we saw a few chapters ago, it's better not to vow at all if you aren't serious about keeping it. 

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