Search 'YeahImABeliever' for specific subjects, words, and Scriptures.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Be Carefull About Making Vows

So many of us are all too ready to swear to something, or to make a vow over a given issue or subject.  I'm sure everyone has heard at one time or another someone say something like, "On my mother's grave" or "By the virgin Mary" and then follow with a promise, which is actually a vow.  Biblically a vow is usually a declaration of devotion that is usually conditional, such as the vow Jephthah made in Judges 11:29; 

'Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead;  and from  Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.  And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If YOU will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering."'   (Judges 11:29-31    NKJV)

Let's look at a little background here, so as to better understand what was going on here.  Jephthah was the illegitimate son of Gilead whose legitimate sons had driven from the family home and properties.  Finding himself in the land of Tob, Jephthah joined other men, and began raiding other villages and towns.  After some time passed, the people of Ammon attacked Israel, and were gaining the upper hand.  Now Israel had a problem, they had no one able enough in the arts of war to lead their army to defeat the people of Ammon, who were very skilled at warfare.  So now, after being driven from Gilead because of his lack of a birthright, the people of Gilead needed Jephthah, and so the elders travelled to the land of Tob to try and talk him into coming back to lead the army of Israel.  A bargain was made, if Jephthah was successful in leading the army of Israel to victory against the people of Ammon, then when the war was over, he would be the head of the people.  The Israelites, with Jephthah leading the way, defeated every enemy they encountered, slowly working their way closer and closer to the army of the people of Ammon.  Now here is where things get a little dicey.  Nowhere in the scripture describing these events (Judges 11:1-28)  I've just paraphrased do we find that Jephthah made any vows to the LORD either before or after a battle.  Scripture does tell us that he  'spoke all his words  before the LORD in Mizpah.'  (Judges 11:11  NKJV)  Just this alone would indicate that Jephthah was a pious man, and that he took everything to GOD before he undertook anything.  The new leader of Israel's army would've spent some 'one on one' time with the LORD, through prayer seeking guidance and assurances that everything from his new position to waging war against the people of Ammon to leading the people of Gilead after the war ended, that in all of this and more he had the blessings of GOD.  This is an important aspect about Jephthah for us to understand, although it does make what followed even more tragic. 
Now we're at the point of battle with Ammon, and Jephthah seeks the Judgment of the LORD in the battle between Israel and the people of Ammon.  Then, and his reasoning is hard to understand, Jephthah does something new, he makes a vow.  The vow, which is conditional, is a pledge from him to GOD that if the army of Israel is victorious against the people of Ammon, then Jephthah will offer up as a burnt offering whatever it is that comes first from his door when he returns home.  Think about this for a minute.  We've established several things already.  First, that Jephthah was a religious man who took everything to GOD for guidance.  Second, that every battle fought had ended in victory for Jephthah and the army he led.  A third point to make is that GOD didn't require this vow.  The question now is why did he feel the need to make this vow?  Maybe he felt this vow was necessary to express just how devoted to and trusting of the LORD he was.  For whatever reason the vow was made, the fact is that it wasn't necessary, but since the vow was made, now it had to be fulfilled.  That is the whole purpose of today, to understand that we need to be extremely careful about what we vow, or promise, or pledge, and not just to GOD.  Now let's look at the results Jephthah faced in the keeping of his vow.

'When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child.  Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.'  (Judges 11:33  NKJV)

When GOD is working in our lives, and is blessing our undertakings, we may feel that we need to somehow reassure HIM of our love for HIM.  This may be what led Jephthah down his tragic road.  Remember that GOD knows the 'innermost' part of each of us.  Also remember that our Covenant with HIM, the Covenant of Grace, is exactly that, based on and in Grace.  There are no works required as conditions of this final Covenant.  We don't need to prove anything to the FATHER, HE already knows more about how we feel that we do.  But if a vow is made, it has to be kept, even an unadvised one.

No comments:

Post a Comment