As was pointed out, the second thing demanded of the Nazarite was that he see to it that no razor come upon his head all the days of his consecration. As was said, this element in the Nazarite institution has been variously explained. According to one view, the long hair was the symbol of the power of God under which the Nazarite stood, and thus a sign of his subjugation to the authority of God. It was shown that there is seemingly some ground for this explanation at I Cor. 11:10. Here the apostle says of the woman that her long hair was given her by nature for a covering as a sign of subjugation to her husband. But the man, having no earthly superior, should have his hair cropped. Hence, it was counted a shame for the man to grow long hair. “But,” it Is said “the Nazarite, who gave himself up by a solemn vow of consecration to God, and who should therefore ever feel the authority and the power of God upon him, most fitly wore his hair long, as the badge of his entire and willing subjection to the law of his God” (Fairbairn).
There are still other conceptions of this symbol. A sign of mourning. A sign of more perfect freedom. The symbol of the spiritual power of the life of regeneration.
Just what may be the point to this part of the Nazarite institution? It is this, that the hair of the devoted one might not be cut. This is plain from the language employed in Num. 6, “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head. . . . he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of his hair grow.” If words have meaning then the mandate to the effect, “There shall no razor come upon his head,” is equivalent In meaning to the command, “he shall let the locks of his hair grow,” that Is, he shall refrain from cutting his hair. The clue to the correct interpretation of this element in the Nazarite institution is the command, similar in character, and given in respect to the altar, “And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone—mark you, hewn stone—: for if thou wilt lift thy tool upon it—that is, if thou wilt make it of stones that were hewn with thy own hands, the hands of man—thou hast polluted it.” (Ex. 21:25). We must now consider in this connection what is asserted of the stone seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream. This stone, by which the great and bright image was smitten, was cut out of the mountain without hands. The signification of this figure is evident. Christ, the stone, was, as to His human nature, brought into being not through human, but solely through divine agency. Though hewn out of the rock, that is, though of our race, though born of the virgin, the hands that made Him were those not of man but of God. He was exclusively God’s Christ. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 2:2). He was solely the product of the power of God’s love,—He and likewise His people, the sheep for whom He laid down His life. There can be no doubt that this is precisely the truth signified by the Nazarite’s walking before his brethren with his hair uncut. Cutting his hair, the Nazarite, as to his appearance, would have been a man, made with man’s hands. But with hair and beard uncut, thus long and flowing, because unhampered in their growth by the application of the shears, the Nazarite, as to his outward man, stood before his brethren as God made him, as a man made with God’s hands,—thus stood before his brethren as the walking signification of the truth that the believer is solely the spiritual creation of God, His exclusive workmanship.
If the point to the prohibition, “There shall no razor come upon his head,” is, ‘Being a sinful man, the Nazarite uses the razor to his own hurt, cutting with it his hair. Hence, let him put this instrument far from him,’—if this were the construction to be placed upon the command in question, it is hard to see why the hair should be singled out. Aside from the fact that a man does himself no physical harm, when he cuts his hair, there are many other ways in which a man may injure himself with a razor. So, if the thought that was meant to be conveyed is, that, whereas man, being sinful, cannot use the razor and tools and instruments in general otherwise than to his own hurt, the Nazarite may not have these things in his possession, while performing his vow, it shall have to be admitted that the language employed by the sacred writer is misleading. For, what he, according to the form of the words employed, says is simply and plainly this, “The Nazarite shall wear his locks long, that is, he shall not cut them.”
The last element in the Nazarite institution was the necessity of avoiding all contact with the corpse. The common Israelite, too, might not deliberately defile himself with the body of a dead man, except the man be of his kin. If, due to no fault of his own, he was defiled, the law required that he purify himself with the water of separation on the third day and be unclean seven days. If he failed in this, he had to be cut off from his people” (Num. 19:9-11). Thus no one among the Israelites might purposely touch the dead. In respect to the dead, the common Israelite found himself under the same necessity that was laid upon the Nazarite. The former as well as the latter was holy unto the Lord. The only difference was that as applying to the Nazarite, the law was most strict. As the high priest he was even forbidden to defile himself for the dead body of his nearest kin.
The significance of the command that the Nazarite touch not the body of any man, is evident. The corpse is the symbol of the natural man in his spiritual death and pollution. But in distinction from the wine, the physical corpse symbolized the principle of sin as it riots not within a man but in the world by which he is surrounded, in the men that constitute this world. Thus the prohibition in question is at bottom a mandate to the effect that the servants of God in a spiritual-ethical sense be separate and live alone; it is a command that God’s people see to it that they are not defiled by the evil works of the unprincipled men whom they daily must contact in the local sense. Thus the Nazarite as separating himself and as actually separated from the dead body, stood before his brethren also as the walking symbol of the believer separating himself and also actually separated in principle from the world that lieth in darkness, from the evil works of this world,—as a walking symbol of the believer pitted against sin as it riots in his own nature and in the world round about him. But the Nazarite institution had also a positive side to it. The Nazarite was one holy unto the Lord. The law reads, “And he shall be holy. . . .” (Num. 6:5a). The thought contained in this brief clause is wholly positive. The Nazarite was thus one wholly given unto God in heartfelt service. The law of God was his delight, and his desire was to run the way of God’s commands. His calling was to live the truth symbolized by the commands under which he had been brought.
When the days of his separation were fulfilled, the Nazarite offered his offerings unto the Lord—a he-lamb for a burnt offering, a ewe-lamb for a sin offering, a ram for a peace offering, and unleavened cakes for a meal offering. A ewe-lamb for a sin offering. Thus the Nazarite, during the period of the performance of his vow, had sinned. Wherein had he sinned? In respect to the outward commandments by which he had been bound? Had he at intervals drunk wine or defiled his head with the razor? This cannot be. His vow would then have been broken. Yet he had sinned. As has already been explained, his calling was to so live and walk that he stood before his brethren as the reality of the symbols that he bore upon his person. His duty was to love the Lord with all his heart and mind and will and with all his strength and to walk as a true child of grace among his brethren. This was in the final instance his calling. But in this he had failed largely as do all God’s believing people. Hence, having performed his vow, he brought his sin offering. Despite his best efforts he had sinned. And his sins called for his death. Therefore he brought his sin offering. And in connection with his offering, he received witness that he was righteous.
The question finally is whether the prohibition in question placed the Nazarite under the necessity not only of keeping himself unspotted from the world but also of separating himself from his world physically and locally. The Nazarite had to live alone in spiritual separation from the ungodly and be wholly consecrated to God. This, certainly, must have been the matter, the reality, signified by the symbols that he bore upon his person. But the question is whether this spiritual isolation was to be achieved through the Nazarite locally withdrawing himself from the world of man in which he ordinarily moved. If this be affirmed, we must certainly be on our guard against imagining that the prohibitions in question root in the philosophy that matter, being as such corrupt, is the seat of sin and the teaching that what causes a man to sin is not his sinful nature, flesh, heart, but the things that he holds, such as is wine and bread, and the wicked that he must daily contact—the wicked, their bad examples, their evil practices and ways, their sinful set-up of life, the fair promises or threats by which they attempt to destroy the faith of the believer, in a word, all the temptations to which man is subjected by the godless whom he daily contacts. True it is that a man cannot become drunken, unless he have wine; that he cannot slay himself or his neighbor unless he be supplied with a weapon; that he cannot make a glutton of himself, unless he have food; that he cannot steal, unless he have access to his neighbor’s possessions. Without these things the sinful thought, desire, imagining, resolution, cannot express themselves outside the man in deeds. But from this it in no wise follows that a man succeeds in living a consecrated life, through his separating himself from the earth and its fullness outside of him, from bread and wine. For the cause of a man’s sinning is his evil heart, the sinful flesh. Hence, the thing to do for a man, who wants to be holy, is not to separate himself from wine and bread, and in the local and physical sense from his fellow men, is not to throw away his implements, but to mortify, slay, annihilate his sinful self and to pray God to empower him by His grace to use God’s bread and wine in moderation and to keep himself unspotted from the world of men in which he has been placed. Christ does not say, “If thy eye offend thee, separate thyself from or destroy the thing upon which thy sinful eye is feasting,” but He says, “If thy eye offend thee pluck it out, namely, thy eye,” that is, fin thy sinning, turn not upon the thing that occasioned thy sinning—the bread and the wine—but upon thyself. Thou art at fault. The evil fountain of thy lusting lies within thee. If the three commands to the Nazarite that he separate himself from wine, the shears and the corpse that defiles are at bottom so many instructions to the effect that he attain to a higher plain of spiritual living through such practices of self-denial, we have to do here with three commands, the only ones of their kind in all the scriptures.
Yet, fact is, that just because a man is sinful, bread and wine, and the temptation to which the wicked subject him, though they do not cause him to sin, do occasion his sinning, his stumbling, his fall. As living in isolation, a man is free from all external corrupting influences, from the temptations of life that come to him from without. Did therefore the Nazarite also withdraw himself locally from the world of men of which he formed a part in order to keep from sinning? Did his desire to live a consecrated life cause him to seek the solitude of uninhabited regions? If so, did he do so because the law placed him under this necessity? Was this physical isolation also the matter that was actually meant to be signified by the signs of the Nazarite institution?
(To be continued)