Study 5 A CLEAR CALL TO SEPARATION
by Francis Dixon
Key Verse: “He shall separate himself from …(and)… unto the Lord” (Numbers 6:1-12 KJV)
In Numbers 6:1-12 we have God’s call to every believer to live a separated life. The Word of God calls us to be separated people - look up 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1. In the Bible separation is always presented as a two-fold experience - separation from and to. Separation from is mentioned in Numbers 6:3 (KJV); separation to is indicated in Numbers 6:2. By a separated life we are to be separated from all that is contrary to God’s will, and separated to God Himself, for His use and for His glory alone. Let us consider all that this involves.
1. IT IS THE LORD WHO CALLS TO A LIFE OF SEPARATION.
Look at verses 2 and 3 - it is very important for us to see this. Sometimes Christians feel that they must not do a certain thing, or go to a certain place, because another Christian regards it as wrong. We need to see that it is God to whom we are responsible in these matters; the Lord calls us to separate from all that is displeasing to Him, and to dedicate ourselves to Him so that we are available for His service. If we have a problem about this, our problem is not with the preacher, or the church, or our Christian friend, but with the Lord.
2. THE LORD CALLS BOTH MEN AND WOMEN TO LIVE SEPARATED LIVES.
That may sound strange; but the Holy Spirit underlines it in verse 2. The Lord has a two-fold need: for men and women who will each, in their separate spheres, live lives that are separated from all that is contrary to His will. He needs men who will live separated lives as husbands and fathers, and in their work in commerce, industry or professional life - everywhere; and He needs women who will live separated lives in their sphere, whether at work, in the home, caring for family, or busy serving their Lord in some other way.
3. SEPARATION IS PRESENTED TO US AS A VOLUNTARY MATTER.
Twice in verse 2 (KJV) we read the words “separate themselves”. There is no suggestion here that it is optional, though God does not force us to live separated lives. He appeals to us and commands us to be separated Christians, then leaves us to make our response to Him. Notice that this whole matter of separation from… and to …is brought before us in Romans 12:1-2.
4. THIS SEPARATION IS FROM ALL FORBIDDEN THINGS.
In the case of the Nazarite three things in particular were forbidden: (1) strong drink (verses 3-4); (2) cutting or shaving the hair (verse 5); and (3) contact with any dead body (verses 6-7). There is, however, a much wider application of this truth to those of us who are Christians. The Lord has given us His Word containing His commandments so that we may not have any doubt as to how He would have us live. If we are in doubt as to whether a thing is right or wrong and we will honestly come to the Word of God to seek an answer, we can be sure that He will give us clear guidance in the matter.
5. THIS SEPARATION IS TO THE LORD HIMSELF.
Compare verses 3 and 8. This separation is not isolation - see what Psalm 4:3 says! It is not separation to a cause, a church, a denomination or a creed; it is separation to the Lord Himself. We get an illustration of this in Acts 13:2 (KJV): “The Holy Spirit said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them …” These two servants of God were setting out on a great missionary journey, and were to separate themselves to that one task; but before they separated themselves to the task they were to be separated to the Holy Spirit. In other words, it was separation to the Lord, and then separation to the task - look up 2 Corinthians 8:5.
6. IT IS A COMPLETE SEPARATION OF OURSELVES.
Primarily, God wants us - not our gifts, talents, time, money or service. It is a great thing to bring these things to the Lord, and He will accept them; but the gift He asks of each one of us is the gift of ourselves. He wants us to place ourselves utterly and absolutely at His disposal - look up Romans 6:13.
7. THIS SEPARATION IS TO BE FOR LIFE.
In the case of the Nazarite, the vow of separation was for a short period, as verse 13 indicates; but in the case of God’s people who live today, our separation will only be fulfilled when we finish our earthly course. It is God’s purpose that the whole of our life upon earth should be lived entirely to His glory. Have we this vision?
8. THIS SEPARATION NECESSARILY INVOLVES SELF-DENIAL.
Take the case of the Nazarite. The fruit of the vine might be very sweet to his taste, but he must not touch it. And if even his father, mother, brother or sister died, he must not go near their dead bodies. He could not even have his hair cut! All these things are symbolic, typical and indicative of real self-denial. Notice what it says in 1 Corinthians 6:12. There are many things which are lawful for us, but it is not expedient that we should allow them in our lives. If we are determined to be separated men and women, by not touching the unclean thing, not living a worldly life, but living only for the Lord, then we shall be fully prepared to make any sacrifice that will bring pleasure to Him.
9. FINALLY, SEPARATED LIVES CANNOT BE HIDDEN.
As his hair and beard grew longer, the Nazarite would become more and more conspicuous, and everyone who saw him would say, ‘Look, a Nazarite!’ While God does not want us to look foolish, he wants us in every part of our life to show clearly that we belong to Him. Do others know, not only by the things we do not do, but by the things we do, and by what we are, that we are the Lord’s? Now look up Hebrews 13:12-13 - the motive for a separated life!