Summary: Deals with swearing, has some solid contextual information about the Rabbi’s and how and what they swore to. Mentions the breaking of vows as well
A STUDY OVER THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: PART XV (TOPIC: OATHS)
INTRO: PAUL HARVEY STORY ABOUT 4 STUDENTS LATE TO HIGH SCHOOL
Radio announcer told of the classic tale of 4 HS boys who were late to school. When they arrived late, they told the teacher they had had a flat tire. The teacher said that is fine, but you have to make up the quiz. So she put them into 4 separate locations, and they had to answer the question, “which tire was flat?”
TRANSITION: Lying always kind of ends up like that. The lie is discovered as the truth comes out, and the liar is left humiliated because he has been discovered.
BIBLE VERSE: Matthew 5:33-37
5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 5:35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 5:36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one. (evil one could also mean evildoer).
1. The Rabbi’s, Oaths, Money, & Other Questions.
A. The Rabbi’s:
The rabbi’s, or the religious leaders, had an unusual custom in their day of making people keep their word. For example, if somebody wanted to borrow money, today we go in to a bank, sign a piece of paper that is a legal document, and the money is loaned. Back then, no paperwork. Instead, they had their word. But in order to keep your word, the legal and religious people had an unusual way of swearing oaths.
“I swear to pay you back in the name of God. Or, I swear to pay you back in the name of Jerusalem. Or, I swear to pay you back facing Jerusalem.” And each of these had their own reasons for doing so.
I looked for a giant list of legal terms for these. But I found out that there are so many, there really never was a specific list, and depending on which oath you took, which ones could be broken. For example,
Swear to earth…can break the promise.
Swear to heaven…can break the promise.
Swear to God….not break the promise.
Swear by Jerusalem…not binding.
Swear towards Jerusalem…binding.
People have used their possessions, religion, life, reputation, anything at all.
BUT ALL THIS WAS USED AS SIMPLY A LEGAL PROCESS TO BREAK WHAT WE WOULD CALL CONTRACTS.
19:12 You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
B. What Does this Say About Contracts?
Talk a bit here if the students can understand this, optional.
C. What Does this Say About Bankruptcy?
Talk a bit here if the students can understand this, optional. Remember, the Mosaic law did provide a way to remove oneself from out of the cover of debt, but anyone purposefully taking money they could not repay, OR having the ability to repay money but declaring bankruptcy so they don’t have to…a breach of contract, or a breach of a vow.
D. Bankruptcy Cases (look at Appendix for specifics):
I. Mike Tyson: Despite a stellar boxing career & world titles, filed because he is $27 Million in hole.
II. MC Hammer: Can’t Touch This Man spent $30M, and declared bankruptcy.
III. Michael Vick: Spent $17.7M in his 2 years prior to bankruptcy, in prison made 12 cents/hour.
Note: MC Hammer is now a Christian living his life to fulfill God’s purposes, his lifestyle echoes that of Solomon who experience everything under the sun, but wasn’t satisfied.
E. What if Keeping the Oath Ends Up Hurting You?
Seriously, things change don’t they? God is in charge of the universe isn’t He? If a person takes an oath to be single for three years, what if God puts his future spouse into his life?
BIBLE VERSE: Psalm 15:4
…who despises a vile man but honours those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
F. What Does this Say About Going to Court OR Being Sworn in as President?
Talk a bit, get some feedback. The specific question is: if taking an oath is wrong, then why do we place our hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Or why did President Obama and 43 other Presidents do the same?
BIBLE VERSE: Matthew 26:63-64