Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
At first glance, this would almost seem as if Jacob is saying, “If God will do this then I will do that” but there is another way to consider it. Jacob was reiterating what God had told him in the dream and saying, if He does indeed, perform what He has promised it will be evidence that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac AND Jacob. Thus he made a vow to come back to this same spot and give a tenth of his increase to God.
A “vow” is considered to be sacred. It is a solemn promise to consecrate something to God or to do something in His service. Many times vows are made in a time of distress as a motive to secure help from above. Jacob was definitely in a stressful situation seeing that he was fleeing from Esau to a foreign land. Notice also that, because Jacob was alone, God was the only one to hear his vow, emphasizing that once a vow is made, regardless of who hears, it is to be performed. God expects it to be honored because it is a vow, meaning that we are obligated to keep as if it was a commandment given to us by God. It doesn’t matter if no one else heard us make a vow to God — He heard.
Where Jacob is concerned, God did keep His word and, as we will see later, Jacob was true to his vow. Likewise, we know that God keeps His word to us and, therefore, we must be true to keep those promises we have made to Him and to others. Let our integrity be such that men and God know that we will perform what we have promised.
Blessings and Shalom,