First off, I am honored to have been asked to speak at the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers Bible Study here in Jacksonville, FL. I now extend my invitation to anyone who has legal access to the Police Memorial Building here in Jacksonville. I will be speaking on God’s redemptive work through the Old Testament, and we will work through the timeline of the Old Testament. We will learn more about the big picture of an underused part of many Christian’s Bibles. I know you will leave with a greater appreciation of the Old Testament text, and a clearer picture of who God is!
Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP so we may make arrangements to ensure we have enough seating (and coffee!) for all. We are currently scheduled for the chapel, but I hope we will have to move to a larger room for seating!
Next Thursday: November 5th at 0630 A.M.
This week we follow Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as we open the text in Matthew 5:33-37. We read: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
OK, this is a good one. Quick show of hands as you read this. How many of us have been at points in our lives where we say: “Oh, Lord. If only you will do this for me, than I will do this!” How about: “Oh, Lord. If you allow this to pass from me now, I will never do that again!” I have. I have been there in my life. Maybe you wanted something, and you viewed our great God as a celestial vending machine. Maybe you did something you shouldn’t have done, and you pleaded with Him to allow the earthly consequences to pass.
As we dig, we see that this is speaking about making an oath to The Lord, and as we clarify, we look at the Old Testament texts that Jesus could have been referencing.
- Leviticus 19:2: “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.”
- Numbers 30:2: “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.”
- Deuteronomy 23:21: “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.”
And my personal favorite.
- Ecclesiastes 5:4: “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.”
In context, we see the pattern that Jesus has set in the surrounding sayings. Jesus equated the command not to murder with being angry. He equated the command not to commit adultery with a lustful look, and now he equates making an oath to God with a sort of “don’t even try it.” There is some debate on whether this is an all out prohibition of making oaths, but I am disinclined to argue that point. I think the application is simply this. If a person makes an oath to God, it must be kept. If it is not, than His name is profaned. Profaning the name of God is an unwise thing to do.
This passage speaks to me about the drastic contrast between God and us. Jesus is speaking to me about the sovereignty of God Almighty vs. an oath that may be extremely important to me for a time, but passes away quickly as circumstances change.
If we think it wise to barter with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, we have missed the essence of the “Creator of the Heavens and Earth.” Let us work towards being more like Him every day, and allow His grace to cover our multitude of sins. Let’s not add another sin to the pile, by trying to trade with Him and failing on our end of the bargain. Our works are as filthy rags in His presence, so we don’t have much to trade anyway. It’s a bad idea.
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Matthew 5:37 – “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”