Sunday, September 23, 2012

Should a Person Make Vows to the Lord?

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 23:1 - 25:19
  • Proverbs 12:12 - 14
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Deuteronomy 23:1 - 25:19
Chapters 23 - 25 of Deuteronomy outlined various miscellaneous laws for the people of Israel.  The laws covered the treatment of slaves, foreigners, widows and orphans.  There were many verses that commanded the people not to harvest every last morsel out of their fields.  Instead, they were to leave small amounts for others to find. Whereas society might ridicule the poor, the Lord looks after those less fortunate.

We saw more laws outlining what happens when a widow dies without an heir.  In that case the brother of the man who died is supposed to step in, marry her, and give her an heir.  I've read that many times over, but there was a part of it I hadn't read before.  Mainly it just struck me as funny, because in the US today this wouldn't be considered much of an insult, but I suppose it was serious at the time.  If the brother ultimately refuses to marry her, despite being talked to by the elders, this is what is to happen:
25:9  The widow must walk over to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face.  Then she must declare, "This is what happens to a man who refuses to provide his brother with children."
25:10  Ever afterward in Israel his family will be referred to as 'the family of the man whose sandal was pulled off!'
 On a more serious note, the verses that spoke most strongly to me was 23:21 - 23.  In these verses the bible talks about making a vow to the Lord.  We are told that it is not a sin if we do not make a vow to the Lord.  However, if we make a vow to the Lord, we must be quick to fulfill that vow.  Any vow we make to the Lord is voluntary; He does not require us to make vows.  But should we make a voluntary vow, we shall be guilty of sin if we do not fulfill that vow. 

Have you ever made a vow to the Lord that you knew you might not keep?  Maybe it was in the form of, "I promise Lord that I will do better at this", "I promise Lord I won't do this again", "If you do this for me Lord, I promise that I will do this."  Be wary of making those promises.  Even if the thing you're promising is not to commit some sort of sin, should you fail you would then be committing more sins -- the sin of whatever it was you did, plus the sin of breaking a vow to the Lord.  That's food for thought, eh?

Proverbs 12:12 - 14
12  Thieves are jealous of each other's loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.
13  The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble.
14 Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards.
Verse 12 talks about thievery.  Godly people are not thieves -- no matter how one might try to justify thievery, even "Robin Hood" situations, the bible clearly lets us know that thievery is in no way godly.  

Verse 13 isn't telling us that the godly escape the trouble of using wicked words.  Instead it is understood (or at least, this is what I understand) that the godly don't get themselves in a position to be trapped in the first place.  With all the verses about our words betraying our hearts and wicked people saying wicked things, the godly as set aside because they do not do as the wicked do.

Verse 14 talks about wise words and hard work.  As a contrast to wicked words that trap people, wise words bring reward.  Wise words are godly.  Another thing that is godly is hard work.  No where in the bible that I have read so far does it say that God will just up and bless people without them putting work into it.  I call this the "lottery syndrome".  "Well, God will provide for me, God will bless me, so therefore I just know I'm going to win this lottery drawing on Saturday!"  Yes, the Lord will always provide you with provision, but that doesn't mean riches.  Yes, the Lord will bless those who are faithful, wise, honest and hardworking.  But that doesn't mean you're going to be filthy rich, and it doesn't mean that you're going to realize that blessing here on Earth.  I'm not saying you won't realize it on Earth, but the bible does state the blessings that await in eternity for those who are faithful to Him.  While I enjoy being comfortable on this Earth, if I have to choose between the two, I choose abundant blessings for all of eternity.  This life, after all, is just the blink of an eye.

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