TO VOW OR NOT TO VOW?
There have been many vows made throughout the Bible. Some have been good, and some haven’t been so good. Some vows were kept some vows were broken. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains defines vow; a binding promise made to deity, often with conditions and particular results on both parties, implying failure to keep will result in disfavor.# The vow is made to a deity. The Harper’s Bible Dictionary defines deity; the divine quality that distinguishes God from other entities therefore God cannot be likened to any created thing, however precious. Then it said See also God.# So a vow is a promise we make to God and failure to keep that vow will result in disfavor… toward us… from God. Sounds pretty serious to me.
Lets turn to Judges 11 verse 29. This is the account of a vow that was made by a person not seeking the glory from man, but was only trying to please the Lord. Jepthath was born of a prostitute, and driven from his home by his brothers so they would not have to split their inheritance with him. After a while the Israelites were under pressure from the Ammonites. Meanwhile Jepthath had become a mighty warrior. The Israelites came to him and asked if he would help them to fight the Ammonites. If he won over the Ammonites they would let him be the head over all. After trying to reason with the king of the Ammonites, Jepthath decided to go against them in war. Now I will read part of the account starting with verse 29...
Now if that doesn’t make you think twice about what you say…
just wait I have some more.
Here in this story we can learn a few different things.
Even faithful believers can doubt God at times. Jepthath had more than enough reason to believe that the Lord was with him in this battle and didn’t need to make this vow. Look at verse 29... We can learn from this that when we know that God is with us there is no need to hesitate. Just do what God wants us to do. The reason God did not intervened in this situation like he did with Isaac, may have been to correct the weakness of his faith. Jepthath felt as if he need to offer something to God so God would give him a victory. The spirit of the Lord already come upon him what more could he have asked for.
It is okay to make vows in some cases, not as a payment for a service but, as an expression of our gratitude to God. The situations that call for a vow is one that would glorify God, and the interests of His kingdom among men, or to further of ourselves in His service, which we are already commanded to do. We must think first before we make vows, look at Proverbs 20:25... THINK FIRST. When we make these vows we should use words like, Since you have done that I will do this, not If You do this I will do that. Does everybody see the difference.
Now comes the most Important lesson. Let Jephthah’s harm be our warning in this matter. That what we have solemnly vowed to God we must conscientiously perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be ever so difficult and grievous to us. Jephthah’s sense of the powerful obligation of his vow must always be ours. Look at the end of verse 35, “I have made a vow to the LORD that I CANNOT BREAK.” When we say something we need to be ready to do it. Look at chapter 5 of Ecclesiastes verse 4. Repeat this 3 times.
Lets look at another account of a vow, this one is in the New Testament.
It begins at the end of Acts chapter 4:32 and goes into chapter 5. At this time all was going well for the people. Nobody claimed his possessions for his own, they shared everything. On one occasion Barnabas sold some of his property and gave the money to the apostle’s to distribute it as needed. Others had done this before but this time it sparked others to do the same but not for the glory of God but to glorify themselves. Lets start reading in chapter 5...
Ananias and Sapphira saw what Barnabas had done and the praise he received for doing it. They wanted the same praise, not for God but for themselves. They had all intentions on giving all the money to Peter, until it was in their hand. They received the money and couldn’t give it all up. The only thing they didn’t see is that they didn’t have to give it all up. The land was theirs, the money was theirs, they didn’t have to give it all to Peter. The greed in their hearts wouldn’t let Barnabas outdo them. They had to not only keep part of the money from their land for themselves, but they wanted the praise of giving it all to the church. God didn’t care how much they gave until they said it was ALL the money from the sell of their land.
Our vows don’t have to be vocalized to be in effect. As soon as we say it in our hearts God knows. God expects us to keep it. The vow was made when Ananias laid the money down as if it were all he received for his land. He didn’t even have a chance to correct himself or change his mind, Go to 1 Samuel 16:7...
God knew his heart and that was the end of him. Back in Ecclesiastes 5: 4 we heard, “He has NO pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.” Ananias was a fool, he got greedy, he not only wanted the praise of men, but he wanted money that was no longer his, he lied to God and he paid the price for it. As for Sapphira she has a chance to tell the truth. She had no clue what had happened. She is asked “is this the price” she answered “yes, this is the price”. Without remorse or hesitation she flat out lies. I think the reason she is given a chance is because she wasn’t the one that took the money, she just knew about it. She had a chance to redeem herself. Although she didn’t lie to begin with she was given a chance. She lied and she got the same fate.
Look at Luke 12:2-3 All thing will be made known. God knew she was aware that Ananias lied, and gave her the chance to confess. Instead the lie continues. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines lie; an intentional violation of the truth. Lies are emphatically condemned in Scripture.# I also look up the word emphatically, it means without question and beyond doubt. And I think we all know what condemned means, and if you don’t just read the story of Ananias and Sapphira again. Turn to Deuteronomy 23:22-23...
Now I came back to my original question, To Vow or Not to Vow. I can not make the choice for you, that is between you and God. The only thing I can do is make you aware of the choices you make. I am giving you a warning, be careful what you say, either out loud or in your heart, God knows both. Don’t make rash commitments you are not ready to fulfill.
God is a very forgiving. He doesn’t try to condemn us. We do it to ourselves. Jesus said in Matthew 12:37 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” The good thing is he has promised to forgive us of our sins, past present and future, all we have to do is ask and believe.
For anyone here that has a heavy heart and needs prayer this is a time we can pray for you, just come forward. If there is anybody that needs the forgiveness that only Jesus can give please don’t hesitate come forward. If you don’t feel comfortable with coming up in front of everybody just hang around and I can talk with you one on one.