Oaths, or vows if you will, come in many packages, but they can be broken down into two distinct categories.
The first, and most serious are vows made with God almighty.
The others are vows made with others.
Let’s first look at vows made with God.
How many times have you heard, “God, if you get me out of this jam, I’ll…” or maybe you’ve heard, “Lord, if you’d just heal me, I’ll …”
How many of you have uttered anything like this?
These phrases are utterly dangerous! Why is that?
Because these are are what God calls oaths. You’re making a conditional promise, if God would also promise to do something to get your butt out of a jam, that you most likely caused yourself.
It’s called bargaining with God. God, if you do “this,” I’ll do “that”.
God doesn’t work that way – He doesn’t make bargains.
Oh yeah, He may answer your request, and it may be in the way you requested, but in no way does that mean He acquiesced to you.
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 5:2:
Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
First of all, God would never be forced into any oath or promise – especially when conditioned on something that we do. Remember, He’s the potter – were the clay. God’s not subservient to us, nor will He allow Himself to be.
Isaiah 29:16, the prophet writes:
Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
and Isaiah 64:8, the prophet writes:
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
In other words, you need to know the pecking order – the creator doesn’t take orders from the creation.
So, if you say, for example, “God, if You get me out of this DUI, I’ll give up drinking forever” – you had better be ready to deliver. Do you really think that God is required to get you out of that DUI? Nope.
That DUI could well be God’s way of getting your attention however.
David did this for eight days after the baby of Bathsheba was born. It was very ill and he pleaded to God for its healing. In the twelfth chapter of 2 Samuel, we see David fasting and praying over this very ill child. Don’t tell me that there wasn’t a bit of bargaining with God during this time.
You and I would be doing the same thing!
God does things that get our attention – things that may seem horrible at the time. We may even want to curse God over these things.
God does that – He’s always trying to get our attention for something. And it usually comes when our proverbial butts are in a sling.
I’m working with someone now who’s had something terrible happen to them. Confidentiality prevents me from getting more specific, but suffice it to say that God’s trying to get their attention. I’m sure there’s a bit of bargaining that’s gone on there too.
The second category are promises, vows and oaths are those made to others – Ecclesiastes has this covered too, verse 4:
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed.
When you make a commitment to someone else, whether it’s personal or in business, it becomes a promise – an oath or a vow. The Lord takes such commitments seriously.
Just as in making oaths before God, making a promise to someone else is just as important before the Lord, so important in fact, that Gods Word continues in verses 5-7:
Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
Making any sort of commitment, in God’s eyes, locks you in to carrying out what you vowed to do.
In business, if you make a contract with someone, and all of a sudden, make changes, such as as raising a price, or change terms, without justification and without proper renegotiation, is sinful in God’s eyes. You’re breaking your vow – your oath.
If you change this agreement, you’re breaking your promise – and the other party now has to wonder, are you good for your word? It would have been better had you not made the agreement in the first place.
Why do you think God treats marriage vows so seriously? So seriously that at least two of the Ten Commandments address it, one of them directly.
Don’t commit adultery – address them head on,
Don’t covet – address them when it comes to another’s spouse.
You made a vow, an oath to your spouse to be faithful to one another and no other. To violate this vow is sin, pure and simple, and God says that it would have been better to not made this vow at all, it would have been better that you never married.
Violation of your word, your promise hits on another one of the commandments – don’t bear false witness. In other words, don’t lie.
How many scriptures deal with lying – from the entire Bible? Let’s see:
Proverbs 17:4, An evildoer gives heed to false lips; A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
Proverbs 19:22, What is desired in a man is kindness, And a poor man is better than a liar.
Proverbs 30:6, Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
1 Timothy 1:8-11, But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is [c]contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
Deceit is part of the list in Romans chapter 1 that bring on the debased mind. See verse 29.
Heck, our world is full of deceit today – from our politicians, to our local so-called leaders of every party, to even our own households at times.
It’s getting to the point that we don’t know who to trust.
Every politician campaigns on promises, but rarely are they fulfilled. Remember the big one, “a chicken in every pot?” What a crock!
The recent ones were “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” – another load of bovine excrement.
And the current White House lessee and occupant has come out with so much deceit, he has turn our economy from the star of the world economies, to a free fall into the likes of Venezuela in just 10 months.
And the current occupants of Congress aren’t any better. They’ve done nothing but make this steaming pile a reality.
I say throw out the lot of them – all 525 House and Senate occupants, the inept chief executive and the one he calls a Vice President, both of who, are out of their league.
They all, every single one of them, got their jobs on lies and deceit – yeah, even the ones we think are the good guys. Fire them all and start over.
Yes, each and every one of us are sinners, but our government has devolved into a pool of sewage. Psalm 63, verses 9-11, even David knew what happens to officials of a deceitful government.
But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
So, vows, oaths and promises are treated very seriously by God, and to break your promise is akin to a lie, which directly breaks at least one, and probably more than one of the commandments.
Matthew 5:36-37 lays it out perfectly:
Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
In other words, whatever you swear – promise, vow or make an oath over – let that be your word, and don’t go about breaking it. Because to do so, is of the devil.
(Said no politician, ever … right?)