Text: Numbers 30: 1-16, Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
Vow to God is a solemn promise made before God or to God. It is an earnest promise or pledge or personal commitment to perform a specified act or behave in a certain manner especially a solemn promise to live and act in accordance with the rules. It is the ultimate commitment to God. It is to make a determined decision or promise to do something. Vow is an oath and God expects us to fulfill any vow made to him. Num 30:2, "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." Matt 5:33 & 37, "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' be 'No,' ;anything beyond this comes from the evil one." To fulfill is to bring to realization. That is, that which you have promised, you make to happen.
You are admonished to be a man of integrity. God does not forget vows made to him, watch what comes out of your mouth. It is better not to vow anything than to vow and not fulfill it. Breaking vow made to God is a sin and it has consequences.so never make a hasty vow. A vow to God is extremely binding and you have to keep it. However a broken vow should be taken to God in true confession so that God can forgive. Apart from making vows to God, vows can also be made to man. For example, marriage vows between husband and wife, to a friend, to a relation, to parents, to an employer or as a form of membership in to an Organisation. These vows are in form of pledges, promises or oaths. Your integrity is at stake when making vows, so before making any at all, you must understand what it is and what it involves. Never rush to make a vow. Be a man of integrity.
Num 30:2, “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”.
Deut 23:21 & 23, “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.
Ps 50:14, “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High.
Ps 66:13-14, I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you- vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.
Ps 116:14, I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Eccl 5:4, When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
Jnh 2:9, But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, Salvation comes from the LORD.
Matt 5:33, Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.
Brethren, you are admonished to redeem whatever vows you make and that you should not make a hasty vow. Let us consider the following characters in the Bible as to vows made and fulfillment of such.
Hannah in 1 Sam 1:11-28
Hannah was Elkanah's wife but had no child until later. She went to Shiloh to pray to God. In her deep anguish she prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly and made a vow saying in 1 Sam 1:11, "LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head." The LORD remembered her and in the course of time she became pregnant and gave birth to a son whom she named Samuel, saying "Because I asked the LORD for him." She nursed Samuel until she had weaned him and went back to where she prayed unto God and said I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So I now give him to the LORD. And Samuel worshiped the LORD there. Hannah happily fulfilled her vow unto the Lord.
Jacob in Gen 28-1-22
Jacob's father Isaac instructed him to go to Paddam Aram, to the house of his mother's father Bethuel to take a wife. Jacob was prepared to go and God revealed himself to Jacob in a dream and promised to be with him, watch over him wherever he goes and bring him back to his father's land he was leaving, and will not leave him until God has done what he has promised him, Then Jacob made a vow in Gen 28:20, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear, so that I return safely to my father's household, then the LORD will be my God, and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house." God fulfilled the promise to Jacob. He went to Paddam Aram, He was blessed and God increased and enlarged him. He had wives, children, male and female servants, cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats. He accumulated a lot and he came back safely to Bethel with all the people with him. In fulfillment of his vow he built an altar in the place where God revealed himself to him when leaving Bethel and called the place El Bethel. Also, he bought a plot of land at Shechem in Canaan and set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel. Jacob did as he vowed and the stone he set up as a pillar became God's house.
Jephthah in Judges11:1-39.
Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. The elders of Gilead appealed to him to come and lead war for them against the Ammonites and promised to make him head and commander over them and they did to him as promised. He led the war for Israel against the Ammonites. v29-31, “Then the spirit of the LORD came on him and he made a vow to the LORD. If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Then he went over to fight and the LORD gave him victory and Israel subdued Ammon. As he returned to his home in Mizpah, his daughter, the only child danced to the sound of timbrels to meet him at the door. On sighting her, he tore his clothes and cried and was so devastated. But he said in v35b, "I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break." And Jephthah did to her daughter as he vowed to God."
Going through the examples given above we see the faithfulness of God in all the cases. Our God is ever faithful. Thank God, Hannah, Jacob and Jephthah had the grace to fulfill their vows. We make vows to God when we are in distress, in anguish and afflicted. When we are desperate for attention and want God to intervene and do something concerning our case. Really, making vows help one to focus on God and help one to place God in the forefront of one's mind all the time.
Consequences of breaking vows made to God.
Breaking vows attracts condemnation and judgement. James 5:12.
One will be guilty of sin. Deut 23:21.
One will be accused of wrong doing. Num 30:15.
The advantage of fulfilling vows is that you receive more blessings from God and you become more honorable. 1 Sam 2:21.
Brethren, you are admonished to be honest and be truthful when you are making vows and also about financial matters especially in the house hold of God.
2 Cor 8:12. Never make a hasty vow. Seek the face of the Lord before you make a vow.
Lord, you are ever faithful to your promises. As humans we do rush to you in times of anguish, despair and distress and make vows to you.
Grant us the grace to be able to fulfill such vows and if there are outstanding ones yet to fulfill have mercy on us and grant us the grace to fulfill them in Jesus' name. Amen.