Paul’s Zeal for the Kingdom

Parashat Nasso (Lift Up)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftarah: Judges 13:2-25

In my most recent commentary, I wrote that just like the Levites, we His followers are called to take care of God’s kingdom on this earth. We are to care for what has been entrusted to us with integrity, humility, and love according to the Lord’s instructions. It is not for us to care for as we wish, but as He has instructed!

I believe that doing things the way God has instructed is vitally important. I also believe that it is important for us to understand that while God has a plan for each of us, there are those who may have been given a very specific call that may be different from others.

In this week’s Parashah and Haftarah portions, we read of a very special vow of the Nazirite:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow to set himself apart, namely, the vow of a Nazirite, to live as a Nazirite for the LORD…”
Numbers 6:1-2

It then goes on to describe the Torah (teaching, instructions, or precepts) that the Nazirite should live by (Numbers 6:3-21).

To take the vow of the Nazirite upon oneself is a personal choice; it is a special vow of abstinence for a specific amount of time, to be devoted to holiness. This vow would require abstaining from worldly pleasures such as anything that has to do with grapes (juice, wine, or vinegar), humbling oneself by not shaving the head, showing a lack of concern with one’s appearance, and not coming near anything that has to do with the dead. All these things can be potential distractions from that which the LORD may call this person to do during the allotted time of their vow.

However, while the original call to be a Nazirite is a personal choice, we see one exception in the Haftarah where we read that God appointed Samson to be a Nazirite not just for a specific period of time, but for life:

And there was a man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was infertile and had not given birth to any children. Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are infertile and have not given birth; but you will conceive and give birth to a son. And now, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he will begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
Judges 13:2-5

We find a similar instance of this special vow in the New Covenant, in relation to Paul:

Now Paul, when he had remained many days longer, took leave of the brothers and sisters and sailed away to Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. Paul first had his hair cut at Cenchrea, for he was keeping a vow.
Acts 18:18

After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard about them, they beganglorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. So what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.Therefore, do as we tell you: we have four men who have a vow upon themselves; take them along and purify yourself together with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and then everyone will know that there is nothing to what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also conform, keeping the Law. But regarding the Gentiles who have believed, we sent a letter, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and what is strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Then Paul took along the men, and the next day, after purifying himself together with them, he went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.
Acts 21:17–26

Here we find a perfect example that when God calls you, He will not contradict His own precepts. Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) is one of the most misunderstood persons in the Bible. While many consider him the one who started a new religion of Christianity based on some of his teachings, I personally believe that he strengthened the Jewishness of Yeshua, and that his teachings are some of the most misunderstood in Scripture.

While, yes, he was called to bring the Good News of Messiah Yeshua to the nations, he never stopped being a man who loved God and was zealous for His Word, i.e., His instructions or teachings. In these two examples from the book of Acts, we find that Paul’s calling was always in accordance with the Kingdom of God.

I believe Paul’s calling was just like the Levites. Paul was called to take care of God’s kingdom on this earth. He was to care for what has been entrusted to him with integrity, humility, and love according to the Lord’s instructions. It was not for him to do so as he wished, but as He had instructed!

What is God’s call in your life? Are you answering the call with integrity, humility, and love according to the Lord’s instructions?

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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One Comment on “Paul’s Zeal for the Kingdom”

  1. As always, important thoughts. I often keep these up to read again as I really appreciate what you share.

    (I know you know this, but there is no “James” in the Bible. That is an incorrect, made-up, replacement/insertion for Ya’akov/Jacob.)

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