Are We a People of our Word?
Day: 29 | Plan: Numbers
Today's Reading: Numbers 30
Numbers 30:2 (NIV) “When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”
As Numbers 30 opens, we find Moses addressing the leaders of Israel on specific questions relating to vows. Under Old Testament law, a vow was similar to today’s contract, minus the signature. It was a vow or pledge promising to do or not do something. It had to be lawful and voluntary, meaning not something a person was already obligated to do under the law. Each vow was holy and carried great weight because it invoked the name of God. He became a party to the promise.
God saw His people flippantly making promises and not keeping them, failing to honor them as holy. So He set standards for vow making and instructed Moses to give them to the people.
Interestingly, the standards governing vows differed for men and women. Vows made by men were binding. Their vows became a legal obligation. To break them violated the man’s honor and brought his honesty and trustworthiness into question. Vow breaking carried significant consequences that varied depending upon the type of vow.
The law allowed women to make vows but created exceptions for fulfilling the vow when the woman was under the dominion and authority of a man, such as a father or husband. A father could rescind a vow made by his daughter if she still lived at home to protect against vows that might have a negative economic impact on the family. Similarly, a husband could revoke a vow made by his wife if it might have a detrimental effect on their marriage or the husband.
If the father or husband rescinded the woman’s vow within 24 hours of learning of it, the law released the daughter from fulfilling her promise to God without adverse consequences.
Vow making doesn’t play near as big a part in our lives today as it did in the Old Testament. But we do make promises. Today’s lesson challenged me to examine how I approach promises. Do I make them? When I make them, do I keep them?
Numbers 30 teaches us that God placed great importance on His people honoring their word. Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thousands of years ago, God expected His people to honor their word and to keep their promises, and He still does today.
Will we be known as a people of our word?
Prayer: Father, help me be a person who honors my word. Keep me from making rash promises. May my “yes” be yes and my “no” be no each and every time. Affirm each promise in my heart and seal it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Matthew 5:33-37.
Jesus addressed the matter of vows thousands of years later in the... Read More
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