Read Acts 18:12-18
“So Paul, having stayed on for many days, said good-bye to the brothers and sailed away to Syria. Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He shaved his head at Cenchreae, because he had taken a vow.” (vs. 18 HCSB)
“Why in the world would we need to know Paul got a haircut?”(1) I love Beth’s questions :)
1. Paul was a Jewish Christian and just because he was Christian it did not make him forget his heritage. “He understood that Christ did not save him to make him forget his heritage but to complete his heritage! (2)
2. He was a Nazarite and according to Numbers 6:1-8 “If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the LORD as a Nazirite…” (vs. 2 NIV)
- “if wants” – meaning voluntary
- “special” – meaning it was offered to men and women alike
- “separation” – consecrated/dedicate to the Lord
- Also referring to giving up wine and other fermented drink during this time
- They also were not allowed to cut their hair and allow it to grow long
Paul took it upon himself to make vow to the Lord and “felt the necessity to be extraordinarily consecrated to God – usually a time of extremely difficult circumstances or temptation.’ ‘They knew that in order to be victorious or obedient, they needed extra help and concentration on God.” (2)
Remember during these times people were worshiping pagan gods and participating in immoral practices. So to keep himself separate and trust solely on the Lord, Paul practiced his vow before the Lord. As Beth points out the haircut referenced in this scripture was not the beginning of the vow but the end of that vow.
“Paul’s actions teach us an important lesson. We obviously need to avoid temptation, but when we can’t help but face it, we can prepare ourselves.” (3)
Are there some things you avoid or practice as a follower of Christ? Some people will do a fast especially at the first of the year to focus on pray and seeking God’s direction. Or they will do a fast when they want to press in and get clarity about a specific situation at any time of the year. People will make a decision to abstain from any alcohol because they know that temptation lurks around the corner when they aren’t sober.
There can be a variety of things people may choose give up for a specific time or as a life style as a sacrifice on their part to the Lord and trust Him with whatever their need is. Not in any way as a boast to others but held by agreement between you and the Lord.
(1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing