As we shall see, a Nazarite (which means “to separate”) was an Israelite who voluntarily entered into a “time of separation” from the world for a specific period of time. He (or she) could be from any of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel. A Levite was a man from the tribe of Levi who was “separated unto God” by serving in the tabernacle in the wilderness and then later in the temple in Jerusalem. So, they were both “consecrated to God,” but the Nazarite’s devotion was “personal, private and temporary,” while the Levite’s service was “tribal, public and permanent.”

1) The NAZARITE is seen in Numbers Chapter Six but we will only read verses 1-6, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when either man or woman shall SEPARATE THEMSELVES TO VOW A VOW OF A NAZARITE, to separate themselves unto the LORD; He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. ALL THE DAYS OF HIS SEPARATION shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: UNTIL THE DAYS BE FULFILLED, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself to the LORD he shall come at no dead body.”

As we see, anyone (man or woman) could enter into this “time of separation.” According to the Jewish Mishna, it could last up to 100 days but the normal length was 30 days. The most well-known Nazarites in the Bible were Samson (see Judges chapters 13-16) and John the Baptist (see Luke 1:5-17), yet in their cases it was NOT a voluntary vow nor was it temporary; they were Nazarites from birth. A Nazarite was to be separated “from wine and strong drink, from cutting their hair, and from dead bodies.” Wine speaks of HUMAN JOY, long hair of HUMILIATION, and a dead body of DEFILEMENT. So, the Nazarite was to live out the time of his/her vow by living a life free from “the pleasures of the world, the praise of men, and personal defilement.” Of course, this should be true of the believer today, though we do not enter into an actual vow, nor do we need to refrain from ever drinking wine, or cutting our hair, or never touching a dead body.

2) The LEVITE is seen throughout the Old Testament. The first mention is in Exodus 4:14 where the LORD said to Moses, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother?” Aaron was a member of the “tribe of Levi” and it was this tribe that was singled out to serve in the Tabernacle or Temple as “priests.” We read of this in Exodus 38:21, “This is the sum of the tabernacle, even the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, FOR THE SERVICE OF THE LEVITES, by the hand of Ithamar, SON TO AARON THE PRIEST.” Later, in Numbers 1:47, 50-51 we read, “But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them…But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony…they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up.” They alone among the 12 tribes were “separated for this work,” which included one among them being the “high priest” who once a year would enter into the “holy of holies” on the great Day of Atonement to offer sacrifices for sin so Israel could be forgiven (see Leviticus chapter 16).

We see then that the Levite’s “separation” differed from the Nazarite in that it was 1) a MAN from ONE TRIBE, 2) a PUBLIC & PRIESTLY WORK to serve all the Israelites in the tabernacle or temple, and 3) a PERMANENT WORK. Today there is no “separate, priestly class” that is ordained to serve on behalf of all believers in a special house of God. Today “all believers are priests who make up the house of God!” We see this in 1st Peter 2:4-5, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a SPIRITUAL HOUSE, an HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to OFFER UP SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Are you, dear fellow-believer, consecrated to God and functioning as a priest by worshiping Him with the “sacrifice of praise to God continually” (Hebrews 13:15)? (DO)  (520.1)