March 6, 2013
One of my previous pastors illustrated being "set apart" by imagining God picking you up and setting you high up on top of a platform in a sense protected from the rest of the world. A picture of being in the world but not of the world - or conforming to the world The Nazarenes were set apart by God – they vowed to separate themselves from the world and worldly desires to devote themselves to God. They vowed to not give themselves over to fleshly desires such as wine and lusting after what is unhealthy. They didn’t even eat grapes because it may cause the temptation to drink wine – they set themselves apart to minimize temptation and avoid sin. How easy it is to fall into this by justifying our reasons… regardless of our reasoning being unhappy in our marriage, stressed out, or the desire to just relax – it creates an avenue of temptation and destruction if we start giving our lives over to it instead of to Christ. If we are set apart as followers of Christ, we must do everything we can to avoid such temptations of the flesh.
I’ve always appreciated the symbol of certain groups who do not cut their hair or adorn themselves with jewelry to signify their dedication to the Lord and being set apart. Not in a legalistic way, but it causes me to question how others may know I'm set apart from the world without wearing a long skirt and sporting a long hair do! If I'm just like everyone else in the crowd, speak the same as the unsaved, look the same as the unsaved, carry myself like the unsaved just to fit it in, how am I set apart in the view of others? Others should see evidence in our lives of Christ.
Jesus is our example and we must refuse these worldly desires, remove ourselves from temptations of fleshly lust, and separate ourselves from those who reject God, not forsaking the advancement of the gospel. The name Jehovah proclaimed three times – could it be tied to the New Testament’s blessing of the Father, the grace of Jesus, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Each God, not separate, but one God over all... love seeing Jesus in the Old Testament!
The poor widow who gave her last coin joyfully is more righteous that the rich man who gives out of obligation and legalism. Heb. 6:10 says “For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name’s sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do.” We will be rewarded for our fruit and labor in the planting and in the harvest with crowns to throw at Jesus’s feet but only with a joyful heart – not out of a heart of obligation. God knows our heart better than we do. Pray about your heart motivation in giving of your time, talents, and money. I love how this ties into the passage above from Numbers. All of the tribes gave equally – the commentary tells us that God was letting us know that what is given to the Lord is carefully recorded by name and whatever is given in love joyfully will be honored. Do we give because we have to or feel guilty if we don’t? We must not let our earthy desires separate us from our duty to Christ even though He tells us that it will bring suffering. We will be set apart – we will be hated, yet we are still called to press on for the gospel! Even if we are crushed and torn down, the gospel of Jesus Christ will not! I believe we are living in the end times and the signs of the times are among us. We are not promised an easy road on this earth – but we can rest in the promise of our salvation! Be ready, be on your guard! In these last days the world and it’s wickedness will become afraid of the light, but we have nothing to fear because God is with us and Christ goes before us! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
How then are we able to say we speak wisdom if we are not meditating on the Word of God daily? How can we gain this understanding if we are not writing the Word of God on our hearts and praying for wisdom and discernment? Can we truly say that all is considered loss compared to knowing Christ? I love the Toby Mac song “Losing” – the verse he sings “I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul” should be the cry of our hearts! If we give ourselves over to the world and the fleshly desires for a moment of pleasure, we gain no profit and cast out the holy wisdom that comes from the Scripture. The words become dead to us, lifeless, because we worship ourselves and our bodies. Life is in the Scripture. It’s our instruction manual for life on this earth! No earthy desire, no material thing, no friendly advice can replace what God gives us in the Scripture. We have nothing to fear – especially death! Praise God for the assurance of our salvation through Christ! It’s nothing that money or possessions can buy.
5 Why should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of those who would supplant me surrounds me on every side,
6 Even of those who trust in and lean on their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
16 Be not afraid when [an ungodly] one is made rich, when the wealth and glory of his house are increased;
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not descend after him.
18 Though while he lives he counts himself happy and prosperous, and though a man gets praise when he does well [for himself],
Amazing how all of these Scriptures come together in the Amplified version. The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord prolongs one’s days, but the years of the wicked shall be made short. 28 The hope of the [uncompromisingly] righteous (the upright, in right standing with God) is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked (those who are out of harmony with God) comes to nothing.