3And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
4Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.
These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Exodus 19:3-6 (KJV)
The LORD's desire for the children of Israel was that they be a "kingdom of priests", serving Him among all the nations of the world.
To facilitate this, the LORD appointed Aaron and his offspring as chief Priests, and the offspring of the tribe of Levi as priests to assist the chief Priest in all the duties of the Tabernacle. These men were drafted into the priesthood, i.e. their life's occupation was chosen for them by the LORD.
However, since the LORD's intent was for the nation of Israel to be a "kingdom of priests", He also instituted a means by which each and every citizen who wished to do so, might also separate themselves to the LORD's service. The details in regard to this are recorded in chapter 6 of the book of Numbers, with the following words concluding the chapter:
22And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 23Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
27And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
- 24The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
- 25The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
- 26The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Numbers 6:22-27 (KJV)
Of course, this blessing was for all of the children of Israel, but it's pretty clear that the LORD's expectation was that many of His children would so love Him that they would want to pledge Him service, on par with the priesthood, from time to time. Without such willingness, the LORD's intent for Israel to be a "kingdom of priests" among the nations would be doomed to failure.
According to the Biblehub timeline, the words concerning the Nazarite vow, and the blessing with which Aaron was instructed to bless the children of Israel, occurred around 1445 BC. Some 40 years later, the following prophecy of the LORD is recorded concerning Israel:
16And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
Deuteronomy 31:16-18 (KJV)
In the day Israel would forsake the LORD, evidenced by their breaking His Covenant and whoring about after other gods, He would forsake His people and hide his face from them, the consequence being: "they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them."
In that day, the LORD:
- would cease to bless and keep His people
- would no longer make his face shine upon them, and be gracious to them
- would refrain from lifting up his countenance upon them to give them peace.
Until... they come to the realisation, "Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?"
Seeking God's face is firstly, a recognition within one's heart that God has turned his face away - that 'evil' can only ever be the state of being of a man who is driven by his own inclinations. Secondly, that 'good' is the state of being of a man whose earnest desire it is for God:
- to restore His blessing and hand of protection
- to again shine His face upon him, and be gracious to him once more
- to lift up His countenance upon him anew, so that His peace might be his.
One who seeks God's face wants the light of His face to shine upon him. In the words of Jesus:
20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 3:20-21 (KJV)