Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:1-2)
As is our nature, we tend to draw closer to God, and call upon Him for assistance, in times of trouble and hardship. It is during those times that some are motivated to make an oath or vow. We mentioned such a case in the previous devotion — a barren Hannah vowing to give her, as of yet, unborn son to the LORD for His service. Obviously, she was desperate and appealing to heaven for assistance. The Bible is full of such situations. Another example is when Jacob was fleeing from the wrath of his brother, Esau. The Bible says:
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, and I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God. And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God’s house. And of all that You shall give me, I will surely give the tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
Later on, he was called upon to make good on that vow as was Hannah — and everyone else who had made an oath. Thus we learn that, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with making a vow in the midst of a crisis — as long as the person is committed to fulfilling that vow. In other words, as we have said, God is listening and He doesn’t forget, even if we do. So it doesn’t matter if He was the only one listening, the point is, He was and He does. Regardless of the circumstance and regardless of who hears and who doesn’t, God expects it to be honored because it is a vow. Whether it is part of a person’s petition of heaven or whether it is an expression of gratitude for Divine favor and blessing, it is to be fulfilled.
It would seem then that God is impressing upon us the importance of being true to our word. In fact, rabbinical sources contend that making a vow is equivalent to something only God can do. What they mean by that is, once the person makes a vow, they are obligated to keep it as if it was a commandment from God. Whatever the person has vowed is bound to be kept as strictly as God’s own law. When you think of it that way, to make a vow or an oath should carry a much greater weight of responsibility. If we truly have respect for God’s Word, then we should also make sure to honor our own. In the end, God will have respect for what we say and so will others — and that is going to matter in these last days.
Blessings and Shalom,