April 18

But It Wasn’t My Fault

Numbers 6:2b-8 “…When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink… no razor shall come upon his head… All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body. All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the LORD.”

Numbers 6:9-11 “And if anyone dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head…he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest…and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned in regard to the corpse….”

The Nazarite vow was a voluntary and temporary vow to the Lord. While abstaining from several things, the one taking the vow had to avoid contact with anything that would make him unclean, specifically a dead person (even a close relative). Today we could look at the vow as a kind of call to holiness to every Christian, and/or a model for denying oneself temporarily in seeking the Lord.

Among many countercultural elements of this vow is what happens when the person taking the vow is defiled, even accidentally. V. 9 says, “if any man dies very suddenly…and he defiles his consecrated head,” there are several things the vow-taker needs to do for atonement.

Today’s culture would find that grossly unfair. After all, it wasn’t the vow-taker’s fault that he was defiled; the person died too quickly for him to get away. But God says that he still needs to act to remove the defilement. What grace, mercy and wisdom we find here.

How often are we defiled—by a dirty joke, an image we didn’t choose to see, or a thought someone else put in our heads about someone else? That doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the more serious abuse that folks impose on others.

What we learn here is that fault isn’t the issue. It’s getting healed, getting cleansed, and getting right with God. The bad news approach says that this isn’t fair, and that leaves us picking at the wound of injustice—a terrible distraction and huge time-waster. The good news approach sees that there is a way of getting cleansed from those violations, whether large or small. We don’t have to make any sin offerings or burnt offerings, but we know what those offerings pointed to—His future sacrifice. We go to Him, ask for the cleansing of His blood and the healing touch of His hand. We forgive, thank Him for the provision, and we go on. And we leave the issue of injustice in His capable, merciful hands.

Prayer: Father, thank You that there is a provision for defilements—big ones and little ones. Father, please move me on quickly when I get stuck in the injustice phase, and carry me quickly to the grateful phase of accessing and appreciating Your cleansing.

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