Summary: We will learn from the life of Jephthah in the book of Judges that it is not not good to make foolish vows that we will eventually regret, but we are encouraged to deepen our commitment through godly vows made before God that we are able to fulfill.
There was this story of a wealthy oil tycoon that one day lay on his deathbed.
His pastor talked to him of God's healing power.
"Pastor," he gasped, "if God heals me, I'll give the church a million dollars."
The pastor prayed for him and anointed him with oil.
Miraculously, the man revived and within a few short weeks was out of the hospital.
One day, several months later, he and the pastor chatted on the sidewalk in front of a hardware store.
"You know," the pastor said, "when you were in the hospital dying, you promised to give the church a million dollars if you got well. We haven't got it yet."
"Did I say that?" the tycoon asked. "
"I guess that goes to show how sick I really was!"
Today in the Word, July 1990, p. 34.
There are people who are so sick that they make a vow and they are not able to fulfill it and worst,
they deny in making it.
And so, we need to ask ourselves the question: "Should Christians make vows or promises to God today?"
What do you think?
How many of you says YES, Christians should make vows to the Lord?
How many of you says, NO, Christians should not make any vows at all?
We will try to answer that question at the end, so, listen very carefully.
Do you know that in the Bible, there are about 30 biblical references to vows, most of which are from the Old Testament?
God knew that man is a fallen creature whose commitments will soon cool down and whose religious zeal will soon wane over time.
And so, God desires for his people to make vows as fulfillment of their commitment and responsibility to God.
Let us examine some of the vows in the Old Testament.
The first of those vows was made by Jacob when he was about to go to Laban's house to look for a wife.
He made a vow saying "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear, then, this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be remembrance (or a pledge) that all you will give me, I will give back my tithe."
And so, his vow is that if God would bless him in his travels, he intends to give God his tithes or the ten per cent of all that he has.
That is found in Genesis 28:20-22.
We know that God has blessed him tremendously in the house of Laban but somehow, he forgot about his vow and God had to remind him through the dream.
Remember the dream concerning the angels ascending and descending in the stairway to heaven.?
It was God's reminder to Jacob that he needs to fulfill his vow before God.
Then, probably, you are familiar with the Nazirite vow of Samson in Judges 13 which we will study in the future.
This Nazirite or Nazarite vow is taken by individuals who have voluntarily dedicated themselves to God.
This vow is a decision, action and desire to yield themselves to God completely.
The Hebrew word "nazir" simply means "to be separated or consecrated."
And that is why, we Nazarenes are simply consecrated or dedicated people before the Lord.
The Scriptures tell us in Judges 13 that the mother of Samson was childless and unable to give birth.
And so, the angel of the Lord appeared to her and promised that she will someday give birth to a son.
But the parents must make a vow that the child must not drink any wine and not eat anything unclean because he will be a Nazirite who is dedicated to God from the womb.
The parents fulfilled their promise but Samson when he was of age was not able to fulfill his part of the bargain.
And there were some consequences of not fulfilling the vow.
Then, we know of the story of Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, who was also barren but desperately desired a child.
She prayed often in the temple courts and vowed that if God would give her a son, she would give him to God for His service.
Then, God heard her prayer and bore a son named Samuel.
She kept her promise and humbly brought Samuel to the house of Eli, the priest where he lived and grew up for the rest of his life.
God used Samuel mightily in the service of the Lord because he was fully dedicated to the Lord.