Keeping Our Vows

If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

- Numbers 30:2

Today we conclude our study of the main contours of Scripture’s teachings about making and keeping oaths and vows. God, as we have seen, does not treat our oaths and vows as matters of indifference. Instead, He views them with utmost seriousness, for they are made in His name, and His name is to be hallowed (Ex. 20:7). The fact that we invoke Him as a witness to our oaths means that we must make only lawful oaths and vows that we intend to keep, and then we must keep them once they are made. Furthermore, oaths are so important to the Lord that He would rather that we not make any vows at all than make vows that we do not fulfill (Eccl. 5:4–5). Since He prizes truth in the inmost being of every man and woman (Ps. 51:6), we must prize it as well. Consequently, we must safe-guard the truth—not only the truth of God’s Word but the truth of our words.

In breaking our vows, we implicitly deny that truth is sacred. Those who treat truth with the utmost sacredness that it deserves endeavor to keep their word. They do not look for an “out” even when it proves far more difficult than anticipated to be true to their promises. We see what prizing the sanctity of truth looks like especially when we look at the life of Christ. Our Lord made the most difficult promise of all—to offer Himself as an atoning sacrifice to bear the full wrath of God against our sin. This was the hardest promise to keep that has ever been made or could ever be made. It was so arduous that Christ asked that the task pass from Him—if such were possible for the Father to allow. But since He was fully committed to His Father’s will—keeping His promise to the Father to do what was necessary to save us from sin—Jesus went willingly to the cross to fulfill the plan of redemption made by the triune God.

Knowing that Jesus went willingly to the cross gives us great comfort, for His work on the cross is inseparable from His perfect intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). All of us will break vows that we have made, but there is hope. Because Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us, we have an advocate with our Father in heaven (1 John 2:1). Until we are in glory, oaths will be necessary, and despite the best of intentions, we will sin and break them at least on occasion. Not until that final day will the presence of sin be fully removed from us. As we await that day, we seek to live in truth, for that is how we will live in glory. But we rejoice that the One who is truth Himself ever lives to make intercession for us.

Coram Deo

God calls us to keep our word, so we should do whatever we can to set up guardrails to help us fulfill that call. In addition to not making frivolous oaths, we must seek the help of the Lord Himself, calling upon His grace and the assistance of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be true to our word. Let us seek the Lord’s face daily and pray continually that He will be with us to encourage and equip us to fulfill our promises.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 76:11
Acts 21:17–26

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