- Week Four
- Day Two
- Remember to pray and ask for wisdom and understanding.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
KEEP YOUR WORD
Pray before you begin and ask the Lord to open your eyes to see who you really are rather than who you think you are. Specifically ask Him to show you when you do not fulfill your words.
In today’s passage, we want to remember that this is Jesus who is speaking, not just a wise man.
In the section of the Sermon on the Mount in which these verses are situated, Jesus is addressing subjects like truthfulness, keeping your word, justice, rights, and liberty. All of these were standards so twisted by Pharisaical law. The Pharisees had built a moat and a wall of protection around God’s commandments with their own laws. Initially, they were probably formed out of a zealous desire to protect and uphold righteousness, but no human law or tradition can foster righteousness. True righteousness is only imputed to us through Christ.
Our word is a reflection of our heart and our character. If we keep our word, we honor God. If we don’t keep our word, we dishonor Him. We want to be who we say we are! We want to clearly understand what Jesus is saying about oaths because even God Himself uses oaths to emphasize His intent and the trustworthiness of His promises.
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
And Moses commanded Israel to take their oaths in God’s name
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.
But even the Old Testament warned about making foolish oaths.
(I just want to go on record saying that this has to be one of the saddest stories in the Bible for me. It is ranked in the top five. How horrible this had to have been for this man, to have to keep such an oath. I think of how we would have handled such an oath today… would we have kept our word or gone back on it? I can honestly say that I would not want to keep my word and frankly no one alive today would expect me to. However, God clearly would hold me to it. Thank God I have not done this, ever. I have made other promises to Him in the past and I cannot remember them all… I was a fool when I was younger… I know the Lord has forgiven me my past but it makes me very mindful about the promises I make today… in fact I don’t make many promises as I have a very bad habit of not keeping them if I do.)
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.
And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
Or making them thoughtlessly
It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.
And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;
How does Jesus’ teaching on oaths reinforce, make more explicit, and even expand these Old Testament warnings? Do you think that Jesus is prohibiting oaths in any and every situation? What kind of situation might He be envisioning?
We really don’t think of making oaths, but what about the words “commitment” and “promise”? When you say you will do something, will you do it? When you say something, is it completely true? Is there truth in your inward parts? Do you make promises to your husband, your children, or others that you don’t keep? Do you make promises to God? Do you keep those? Is your word trustworthy? Ask the Lord to search your heart. Is there any ungodly or untruthful way in you? Confess the things He brings to your mind.
Ask the Lord in prayer today to help you live up to any promises you have made.
My Own Thoughts
I know for myself, this lesson was a hard one. I used to have a bad habit and still can, about saying I will do things that I later don’t do. It is a horrible habit and I am so very glad that the Lord does not treat oaths as carelessly as I have. If we treated oaths with the respect due, there are many things we would keep our mouths closed about. I know as a kid I did the whole “poke a needle in my eye” promise. As a child, that was a very grave promise, followed by the “pinky swear”! You could not break those or bad things would happen. When did we as adults lose this sense of importance when it came to the things we make promises about or say we will do? If this has not affected you as a person, I am truly happy for you and I strive daily to be a woman of my word and to fix the things I said I would do and have not done. Also, be kind to those that are prone to not telling the truth, uncover their lies and falsehoods in love.
Until tomorrow, I love you all and I pray for you all. As always, stay peculiar!! Rest in the Lord family.
The good old days of poking a needle in our eye promises and pinky promises. Even though they were innocent you are right the poke a needle in our eyes promise was rather extreme. I too have learned to be very careful what I make promises about. Wonderful Post!
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