Vows and Oaths

2013-09-20 handshake photo Jesus continues to draw the contrast between the Law of Moses and the New Kingdom Law.

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.  Matthew 5:33 to 37 NASB

A ‘Vow to the Lord’ is making a promise to God to do something in the future.  Sometimes these vows were conditional such as, ‘if God does something, I vow to make some future offering’.  The story of Jephthah found in Judges 11:29 to 40 is one example of making this type of a vow.  Jephthah was planning to go to war with the Ammonites.

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” Judges 11:30 & 31 NASB

In Matthew, Jesus is commanding us to avoid making conditional promises.  He wants us to be subject to His sovereign plan, not oaths or commitments of our will. 

Recognizing that some commitments are needed in life, we are instructed on how to make commitments.  We are to be simple and firm.  If we agree to do something, we are to answer ‘Yes’.  If we do not agree, we are to answer ‘No’.  If our answer is challenged, we should not enter into debate or try to justify our decision.  We are to let our decision stand without discussing it further.

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