by George Kirkpatrick
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give
The Nazarite Vow was made by both males and females. The purpose of the vow was to set oneself apart for a period of time for service to God. The usual time was thirty days. This was called a `single Nazarite Vow'. Some chose a sixty day vow, called `a double Nazarite Vow'. Others chose a one hundred and twenty day vow, called `a triple Nazarite Vow'.
Three men in the Bible were declared Nazarites from their mothers' wombs: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.
The Nazarite Vow did not include fasting. Instead the Nazarite Vow included abstaining from wine and anything pertaining to grapes or any alcoholic beverage. Those who bound themselves to the Nazarite Vow were not permitted to cut their hair or to approach to, or touch, any dead body - - - even if the dead body might be a close relation or friend.
If the one who made the Nazarite Vow defiled their vow in any way, they had to go through a purification rite and begin their vow all over again for the original period of time.
As we look at the three men who were given Nazarite Vows from their mothers' wombs, we can discover how God used these three men mightily in the deliverance of God's people.
The first of these three men was Samson. The interesting thing about Samson's birth was his mother was barren:
"And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:" Judges 13:2-4
So, Samson's mother had to fulfill her Nazarite Vow to be found worthy to bring forth the deliverer of Israel. The angel spoke to Manoah's wife:
"For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." Judges 13:5
This was one of the highest honors that could be bestow upon a woman - - - to be used of God in this way.
"And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." Judges 13:24-25
As we study the life of Samson, we discover he had an uncontrollable desire for women - - - not just women - - - but foreign women. Even though it was all Israel's desire to keep their race pure, Samson continually desired foreign women.
"And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines." Judges 14:1
The Philistines were Israel's enemy. In fact, the Philistines had defeated Israel and were holding them captive.
"And he (Samson) came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well." Judges 14:2-3
Samson's parents wanted to know if there were no daughters of Israel that he desired. They could not understand their son's desire for this foreign woman.
"But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel." Judges 14:4
It is hard for the parents of those who have a special calling in the Lord, to understand the inner desires of their children to serve the Lord. Many times it is hard for those who have this special calling to understand themselves, why they do the things they do.
"Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done." Judges 14:5-6
This was Samson's first display of his mighty strength. Many believe Samson's strength came from his hair. Samson's strength did not come from his hair, but from the Spirit of God - - - as long as Samson was faithful to his Nazarite Vow.
"And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion." Judges 14:8-9
This was the first time Samson broke his Nazarite Vow, because he had touched the body of the dead lion, and had eaten the honey from the dead body.
Samson went down to take the Philistine to wife, and the Philistines sent thirty young men to be with Samson. Samson put forth a riddle to them. If these thirty young men were not able to reveal the meaning of this riddle, they were to give Samson thirty sheets and thirty changes of garments. If the young men were able to guess the riddle, then Samson was to give them thirty changes of garments.
On the seventh day of the feast, the thirty young men threatened to burn Samson's wife's, and her father's house. Because of this Samson's wife wept before him, and he told here the answer to the riddle.
"And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Asheklon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father's house." Judges 14:19
When Samson returned, he discovered his father-in-law had given his wife to his companions. Samson was so upset, he stated he would do the Philistines a great disservice.
"And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives." Judges 15:4-5
What even Samson did not realize was, that God was using all these events to avenge the treatment the Philistines had done to his people, Israel. Samson was the instrument God used to bring their destruction.
When the Philistines asked who had destroyed their crops and their livelihood, the people declared it was Samson who had married the Timnite woman. The Philistines then went and burned her and her father's house.
"And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam." Judges 15:7-8
Etam was in Judah. The Philistines then came up to Judah, and put forth a demand to the people of Etam:
"Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them." Judges 15:11
Samson then agreed to be bound and turned over to the Philistines. Only they made a promise not to kill him.
"And when he came into Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands." Judges 15:14
Again, we see the Spirit of the Lord directing Samson's life. When the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, his strength was mighty, and enabled him to break the cords that bound him, as if they were flax burnt in the fire.
"And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith." Judges 15:15
This was the second time Samson had violated his Nazarite Vow. He had, again, touched the carcase of the dead ass to get his jawbone. But God honored Samson again with strength from the Spirit of the Lord, to enable him to defeat Israel's enemy
"And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years." Judges 15:20
But Samson still was not in control of his passions:
"Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her." Judges 16:1
In today's terms, Samson would be called a `womanizer'. This travesty is still prevalent today with sports and movie stars, politicians, and in many other professions. Those who do such things, forget the wisdom Paul revealed to the Corinthians:
"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." I Corinthians 6:18
All those who do such things are never satisfied. They never seem to have enough. The same was true with Samson:
"And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him." Judges 16:2
Samson put himself in constant danger because of his lust of the flesh. But, again, God used his strength to give him a way out.
"And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron." Judges 16:3
Even though Samson had a weakness in character, God used him to deliver Israel from their enemy.
"And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah." Judges 16:4
Once again, Samson's lust for foreign women kept him in constant trouble.
"And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver." Judges 16:5
In today's money, eleven hundred pieces of silver would be many thousand dollars. Samson loved this woman, but she returned his love with treachery:
"And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee." Judges 16:6
Three times, Samson told her things that would supposedly weaken him. And three times, Samson escaped her treachery. But after much crying, she convinced Samson to finally reveals his secret:
"That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: If I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man." Judges 16:17
This would be the third time Samson would break his Nazarite Vow. Twice he had touched a dead carcase. Now he would lose his hair:
"And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him." Judges 16:19
Delilah's treachery had paid off. She would get her betrayal money, and Samson would be taken captive by the Philistines.
"And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him." Judges 16:20
This time when Samson violated his Nazarite Vow, not only did his strength depart, but the Holy Spirit departed also, and Samson was like any other man.
"But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house." Judges 16:21
The Philistines put out Samson's eyes, and made him grind grain in the prison house. Grinding grain was woman's work. This is the way they mocked Samson. But Samson repented of breaking his Nazarite Vow:
"Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand." Judges 16:22-23
The Philistines gathered in the house of Dagan, to sacrifice to their false god. They gave Dagon credit for delivering Samson into their hands. They were rejoicing and making merry because they had Samson who had slain many of the Philistines.
"And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars." Judges 16:25
They brought Samson out of prison to mock him, and to make sport of him. How this must have humiliated Samson, who always before was the victor. Samson told the lad who held him, to let him feel the pillars that held up the roof of the building.
"Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there: and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport." Judges 16:27
Dagons' house was full of people, and there were also about three thousand on the roof of the house.
"And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes." Judges 16:28
Samson prayed unto the Lord to return his strength so he could be avenged for the loss of his two eyes.
"And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." Judges 16:30
Samson collapsed the two pillars that held up the roof. And all who were in the building and on the roof died with Samson.
Samson is our example, that when we vow a vow unto the Lord, we need to keep that vow. Moses gave the following direction to the children of Israel:
"When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee." Deuteronomy 23:21
As we have seen in Samson's death, he paid the supreme price for his sin.
The next man we want to look at, who was a Nazarite from his mother's womb, is Samuel. Samuel was the son of an Ephrathite. His father's name was Elkanah and his mother's name was Hannah. Elkanah had two wives:
"And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children." I Samuel 1:2
Elkanah and his two wives went up yearly to Shiloh to worship and to do sacrifice unto the Lord. Shiloh was where the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was placed. Eli was priest and he had two sons: Hophni and Phinehas:
"And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb." I Samuel 1:4-5
Peninnah mocked Hanna because she had no children for Elkanah. This went on year after year:
"So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head." I Samuel 1:9-11
Hannah vowed if the Lord would give her a son that he would be a Nazarite, and she would give him unto the Lord all the days of his life.
"Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken." I Samuel 1:13
Elkanah and his family returned home, and the Lord remembered Hannah's prayer, and she conceived and bare a son, and she called his name Samuel. Samuel's name means "His name is God."
Elkahan and his family went up to Shiloh yearly, but Hannah did not go with them:
"But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever." I Samuel 1:22
So when Samuel was weaned, Hannah took the child to the tabernacle and left him with Eli, the priest. And as Hannah proclaimed, "I have lent him unto the Lord for as long as he lives."
"But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice." I Samuel 2:18-19
The coat Hannah made for Samuel kept him warm, but more importantly, it was a priestly garment.
As Elkanah and his family came every year to make sacrifice. . .
". . . the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord." I Samuel 2:21
Because of Hannah's faithfulness in giving her son, Samuel, for the service of the Lord, God gave here five more children for Elkanah.
And Samuel grew before the Lord, and had favor with God and with men.
In contrast, Eli the priest had two sons who were very evil. A man of God came to Eli, and prophesied unto him of his two sons:
"And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in Mine heart and in My mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before Mine anointed for ever." I Samuel 2:34-35
Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died in one day in battle, and all the seed of Eli were cut off, just as the man of God had prophesied.
"And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision." I Samuel 3:1
The Word of God was precious in the days of Samuel as it is in our day. Also there was no open vision or revelation from God during this time of apostasy. This was because Eli was old, fat, and blind. Sounds like the church system of our day!
The Lord began to speak openly to Samuel, even though he was only a child. Three times God addressed Samuel, and each time he thought Eli had called him. When he reported to Eli, Eli assured him it was not he who had called him. The same is true today. There is no calling in the religious system. Their leaders are seminary trained and only teach their old doctrines. How like the Eli church, where there was no revelation from God.
"And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord." I Samuel 3:19-20
In the days of Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines at the battle of Ebenezer. The Ark was not returned to the tabernacle until the rule of King David, a period of twenty years and seven months from the time the Philistines had taken it.
Eli was dead. Hophni and Phinehaz were dead. And Samuel spoke to house of Israel, saying:
". . . If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." I Samuel 7:3
Samuel tried to get the people to repent and turn back to God with their whole hearts, and put away their idols. But Samuel warned them, as long as they remained in their sin, God would leave them in the hands of the Philistines:
"Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only." I Samuel 7:4
The people had great respect for Samuel because the people knew he spoke for the Lord. When Israel repented and served God with their whole hearts, then God delivered them from the hand of the Philistines.
"And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel." I Samuel 7:15 and 8:1
Samuel had two sons. When it came time to turn his judgeship over to his sons . . .
". . . his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment." I Samuel 8:3
Samuel's sons did not walk in his godly ways, but rather went after lucre and bribes. Lucre is `unjust gain'. Sounds like today's judges. Their only interest in their jobs is what they can get out of them. The people got fed up and came to Samuel, and said unto him:
". . . Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." I Samuel 8:5
Samuel was old, but he still served the people, and the people looked to him for leadership. They demanded Samuel to give them a king. Immediately, Samuel sought the Lord's direction:
"And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them." I Samuel 8:7
The Lord told Samuel to do as the people requested, because they had not rejected Samuel, they had rejected their God. Samuel was the last judge over Israel. And in all Samuel's days, he had not once broken his Nazarite Vow unto God.
God informed Samuel to point out to the people, how they would be treated under the rule of a king.
"And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants." I Samuel 8:11-17
It does not appear government has changed much. Our young men still fight our government failed wars. And through taxes, they have enslaved the people to their system. God told Samuel, when the people cried unto Him that He would not hear them. When Samuel told the people these things, they said: "Nay, we will still have a king over us!"
Finally, Samuel told the people for each of them to go to his city, and he would inquire of the Lord, to give them their request for a king.
There was a Benjamite whose name was Kish:
"And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly; and there was not among the children of Israel, a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people." I Samuel 9:2
Samuel was sent to anoint Saul, king over Israel. But when it came time to crown Saul king, he could not be found. When Samuel inquired of the Lord as to where Saul was, the Lord answered:
". . . Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff." I Samuel 10:22b
After all the words and signs given Saul, he did not believe the word of Samuel. But eventually, Saul did fight Israel's battles, and the people turned to him with their whole heart. Sadly, Saul turned out exactly as Samuel had prophesied to the people. He drafted the young men into his army. He used the increase of the lands to fund his army. And the people suffered at the hand of Saul. Then all the people came to Gilgal, and Samuel made a speech before them:
"And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
Behold, here I am: Witness against me before the Lord, and before His anointed: whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? And I will restore it you." I Samuel 12:2-3
Samuel honored his Nazarite Vow all his life. All his dealings with the people were honest and in integrity. No man in Israel could find fault with Samuel.
As Sauls' actions got worse and worse, Samuel still had favour in the eyes of the people. When Saul made the priestly sacrifice before the Lord, because Samuel was late in coming, he informed Saul that even though God had established his throne forever:
". . . now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." I Samuel 13:14
David was the man after God's own heart. In Samuel's final meeting with Saul, Samuel informed him:
" . . . When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel." I Samuel 15:17
Saul, like many today, when he got high and lifted up in self, he forgot God. His pride cost him the kingdom. Many today, who are called and anointed of God, will also lose the coming kingdom, because they got high and lifted up in self.
Samuel was Israel's last judge, and he anointed Israel's first two kings, and there is not one recorded word where Samuel violated his Nazarite Vow.
"And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah . . ." I Samuel 25:1
Samuel was honored by all Israel. Even in his death, all Israel lamented him.
John the Baptist
The next man we want to look at who was a Nazarite from his mother's womb is John the Baptist. We know by the God's Word:
"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth." Luke 1:5
John's father was a priest and his mother Elisabeth was also of the priesthood tribe.
"And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years." Luke 1:6-7
As Samson and Samuel, John also was born of a barren womb. Elisabeth had been barren all her life. Now, in her old age, God was going to use her to bring forth the forerunner of Jesus.
"And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
. . . There appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him." Luke 1:8 & 11-12
The altar of incense was in the Holy Place of the temple. Zacharias had ministered before the Lord for many years, and had never encountered an angel.
"But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John." Luke 1:13
The angel told Zacharias to fear not, and that Elisabeth would give him a son, and he would be called John. The name John means "Jehovah is a gracious giver."
"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor string drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Luke 1:15
Zacharias was informed John would be a Nazarite from his mother's womb, and he would be great in the sight of the Lord, and would be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb.
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17
God would go before John, in the spirit and power of Elijah, and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. This would fulfill the words of Malachi:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Malachi 4:5-6
John fulfilled many prophesies in the Old Testament:
"And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years." Luke 1:18
Zacharias doubted his ability to produce children because of his advanced age.
"And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto you and shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season." Luke 1:19-20
Zacharias was struck dumb, and would not be able to speak until John's birth.
"And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." Luke 1:24-25
A woman who could not bear children was looked down upon.
"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." Luke 1:26-27
Six months after Elisabeth conceived, this same angel, Gabriel, appeared unto Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and told her of the birth of Jesus. So John was six months older than Jesus.
"And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren." Luke 1:36
The word cousin does not mean cousin in the natural sense. It simply means "kinfolk."
"And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:" Luke 1:39-41
Because Mary and Elisabeth were kinfolk, they knew each other, and when Mary came into Zechariah's house, the baby John leaped in his mother's womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.
"Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father." Luke 1:57-59
The custom was to name the child at his circumcision, and those doing the circumcision wanted to call John, Zacharias, after his father.
"And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John." Luke 1:60
The angel had also spoken to Elisabeth, that his name was to be called John.
"And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all." Luke 1:62-63
John's birth, and his name, was a miraculous event from God.
"And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God." Luke 1:64
Zacharias was filled also with the Holy Ghost and began to prophecy. These are the words Zacharias spoke concerning his son:
"And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;" Luke 1:76
We know very little about John's early life, but we do know he did not follow his father's footsteps into the priesthood. The priesthood passed from father to son, but in John's case, he remained in the wilderness. We are informed:
"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel." Luke 1:80
And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." Matthew 3:4
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."Mark 1:4
The Apostle John gives us further insight to John the Baptist:
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." John 1:6-8
When they pressed John, as to who he was, his answer was simple. John declared, he was:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." Mark 1:3
All four of the gospel writers recorded this statement. We need to remember John's total ministry was to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus.
"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." Mark 1:4-5
John became well known for his message of the Kingdom, but John was not the one promised to Israel for the remission of their sin. John's baptism was only for the repentance of their sins. John was the voice crying in the wilderness, but the one he declared to be the Christ was for the forgiveness of sin.
"And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not: but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." John 1:19-21
John knew who he was, and what his ministry was:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:" Matthew 3:11
John's baptism was with water - - - but when Jesus came, He would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Matthew 3:7
John asked the Pharisees and the Sadducees, "Who hath warned you to flee the wrath to come?" Today there are many, who as the Pharisees and Sadducees, have not warned God's people to flee the wrath to come.
There are some, who like John, the Baptist, are operating in the Spirit and the power of Elijah today. They, as John the Baptist are warning the religious system of our day to flee the wrath to come.
But there are many leaders in the church today, who are as the Pharisees and Sadducees. They, too, have their religious duties to perform. This is the Laodicean church who declares:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" Revelation 3:17
Because of their lukewarmness, Jesus promised He would spew (vomit) them out of His mouth. When the Pharisees and Sadducees pressed John for an answer, John replied:
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
Yes, John knew his place, and his ministry.
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him." Matthew 3:13
When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John refused, stating he needed the baptism Jesus had. But Jesus' statement was very profound:
". . . Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him." Matthew 3:15
Jesus declared, "It becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." John was the only man on earth who could baptize Jesus. Why! It was because John was a Nazarite, born of the barren womb. The same was true of Samuel. He was the only one who could anoint the first two kings.
These men were faithful in their commitment to God. Because of this God honored their commitment, and gave them a place of honor in His Kingdom.
John had two things Jesus needed in His ministry. John had the firstfruits of the Spirit, and John was the last of the Levitical priesthood. These two things were passed on to Jesus when John baptized Him. Paul disclosed the fact the priesthood changed from the Levite priesthood to the Melchisedec priesthood.
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood." Hebrews 7:12-14
The priesthood changed from the tribe of Levi to the tribe of Judah. This took place in the Jordan River when John Baptized Jesus. The second thing John had was the firstfruit anointing. When John baptized Jesus, the anointing John had was passed on to Jesus. Luke records:
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness." Luke 4:1
From that day on, Jesus was led by the Spirit of God.
When John baptized Jesus, his ministry was over. And the Spirit being gone from John, he began to live like a normal man. All his life, he had lived in the wilderness. Now the Spirit had left him, and he began to get involved in politics, and he began to attack Herod, the governor.
"But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison." Luke 3:19-20
Herodias had left her husband Philip, and was living with Herod Antipas. John confronted Herod about this unlawful act, and other things Herod was doing. When you insult some one in government, they are bound to get even. This happened at Herod's birthday party. Herodias was out to get even with John. Mark recorded:
"Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:" Mark 6:19
During Herod's birthday party, Herodias' daughter danced for Herod. And because it pleased him, he made a foolish promise to her.
"And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother." Mark 6:22,24, &27-28
Many of God's people today, like John, get involved in politics, and lose their head.
John never violated his Nazarite Vow. He kept it until the day he died. Jesus honored John with these words:
"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil." Luke 7:33
In summary, we find then, there were three men God chose from their mother's womb to be Nazarites their whole lives. Many, many others took the Nazarite Vow for various periods of time and for various reasons, but these three were selected by God from the womb for a very special purpose.
Samson was of the tribe of Dan. Samuel was an Ephrathite. And John was a Levite - - - three different tribes - - - three different ministries. Samson remained in the Outer Court Ministry. He could not control the lust of the eyes or the lust of the flesh - - - and it caused his death.
Samuel ministered in the Holy place before the veil, and through his faithfulness, he entered through the veil into the very presence of God. Samuel was faithful in all he said and did. He was completely obedient to God and His Word.
John was given a special job to do for our Lord. This he accomplished admirably, but instead of taking a backseat to Jesus, or becoming one of His disciples, he like many foolish people, wanted to get involved in politics. This cost him his head.
The Nazarite vow is still one of God's commandments for those who are truly seeking God. To those who consider taking a Nazarite Vow, they should remember three things. One cannot cut the hair on their body. They cannot touch the dead body of anything. And they must refrain from drinking any alcoholic beverage. Fasting and prayer could also be added to this Nazarite Vow.
Considering the Nazarite Vow may be a new idea for most. But in this time of dire circumstances, those who are truly seeking God may decide to take this vow for a time to hear God's voice for direction and guidance in the days ahead.
May this revelation minister to the needs of the body of Christ. Praise the Lord!
Vital Words to the Body of Christ
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give