As I mentioned in my last article, when we make a vow it is imperative that we fulfill our agreement. In the case of Hannah making the vow of the Nazarene for Samuel, he really wasn't given the option. Thankfully Samuel understood and was respectful of his parents and at least it appears went continued on. Samuel served in the priestly duties reserved for Levites. Thanks to 1st Chronicles we can see that Elkanah, Samuel's father, was a Levite and resided in the area allotted to the Ephraimites, one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Nazarite vow is recorded in Numbers chapter 6 and clearly lays out the requirements.
The first thing to observe is the vow is a dedication to the Lord. Have you ever gotten something for your birthday or Christmas that you know someone else got you so they could use it or in reality have it because it is something you completely wouldn't ever use? Well I have and I can remember talking about things I may enjoy or things I could use and every time the conversation would go back to, but you could really use one of these things. Needless to say when I received it I felt like, "this really isn't even mine or for me". This is magnified in the vow of the Nazarite. If you dedicate something to God, it had better be of first rate quality. Fortunately God deals with works in progress.
Verses 6:2-4 talks about the abstaining from alcohol or anything used in the process including grapes and vinegar. The last thing the lord would want is an intoxicated you. Many times in scripture you will see the effects of alcohol on people and their lack of good decision making ability. the more alcohol the worse the decisions. Now don't get me wrong, scripture does not forbid the use of alcohol, however it does have guidelines. Not only are there guidelines but you must consider the risks of alcoholism, stumbling, and what scripture does say about the use of it. Ignorance will not be a legitimate excuse to God. I usually tell people that decide to use alcohol there are four qualifiers.
1. you must be of legal age and of sound mind. Illegal use of alcohol, regardless of how old people were in the Bible is not a valid argument. Scripture says to honor the authorities and governments unless their is a conflict with the teachings of the Bible, my paraphrase.
2. If you cannot drink with a clear conscience you should not be drinking. If someone comes to your house and opens the fridge would they see alcohol? If so would you be ok with that? What if you were out to eat and ordered a drink and someone you knew from church or where ever came in, would you try to hide what your drinking? These are things to consider and honestly some of you answered, "it depends who it is that comes in". My question to that is, "should it matter?"
3.You must always be in control of it, not it of you. Scripture condemns drunkenness and the drunkard. Drinking has potential health risks anyway, as well as a few benefits but the benefits are only in moderation. I have never visited with anyone who says their marriage is so wonderful thanks to alcohol, or I can drive so much better when I'm drinking. Ok I have had people claim to drive better but the owi says otherwise.
4. and this may be the most important. A mature Christ follower will surrender his/her freedom to have an alcoholic drink if it is a point of causing a brother/sister to stumble. You need to decide before you reach for that drink if it is more important than your friends faith. Their are mature Christians that view this is the one area, they feel, you have no freedom and will try to force you to see things their way. This is an opportunity for folks to look to the word of God and grow but usually they have had a long history of associating bars, sex, rock and roll, drugs and all the things we "shan't" not do. Kind of like going to the movies or a dance. Amazing how all these things have gotten dumped into the category of Satan's trickery to get us in. I see David danced mightily before the Lord, and the movie the Passion was rated r but filled with people.
Bottom line is drop the legalism, look to scripture and live for Christ the best we can this side of paradise.
Till next time study that Bible!