The strength of vows demand that they should be performed
HYMN: THY LIFE WAS GIVEN FOR ME
Text: Gen 28:10-22, 35:6-7; Num
21:1-3; Judges 11:27-39; Ps 50:14,
76:11; Eccl 5:1-7; Matt 5:33
The Great illustrated Dictionary defines vow as an earnest promise or pledge that binds on to perform a specified act or belief, in a certain manner. In the first part of this study, it was mentioned that the use of vows were common in Bible times, that vows are sacred and important in Christian service. When Jacob went into Mesopotamia he vowed to God the tenth part of his estate, and promised to offer it at Bethel to the honor and service of God, Gen 28:20-22. This concluding part will highlight some excuses men give for not fulfilling their vows, the consequences of such act, the resultant effect of performance of vows.
The objectives of this study are:
- To consider some reasons why believers fail to fulfil their vows.
- To know the dangers of not fulfilling vows.
- To know that there are blessings associated with fulfillment of vows.
Q1. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS DO NOT REDEEM THEIR VOWS?
There are several reasons why some believers fail to fulfill their vows. Some of them are poverty, greed, unfaithfulness, selfishness, unbelief and lukewarmness to the things of God.
- Poverty: Poverty or lack should not hinder an individual from fulfilling his or her vow to God, He will always make a way to help us fulfill our vows. For example, a sister who vowed to give a drum to her church if she delivers safely, gave a testimony of how God miraculously provided for her the money she used in buying a drum set; by making her to be among the people selected form her school to attend a seminar for ten days, where she was paid one thousand naira daily. As if that was not enough, she was asked if she needed a soft loan from her school staff welfare fund. She then collected the loan and added part of her salary for that month and she was able to fulfil her vow to the Lord. If God sees that the vow maker is really willing, God will equally make a way even when there seemed to be no way.
- Greed: At times some people will feel that what they have used in vowing is too much for God. They will listen to the suggestions of the devil to use the money for some other “useful” things; after all, nobody knew that they made such vows.
A sister who vowed to give God a ceiling fan if God gives her the job she applied for, when she came to fulfil the vow, narrated how she went to market three good times to buy the fan only to heed to the devil’s advice that she should go back because the money involved could buy her a wrapper and a hand bag to match; until according to her, she overcame the devil and finally bought the ceiling fan and presented it.
- Unfaithfulness: Some people because of share unfaithfulness quickly forget the favors of God in their lives. As soon as their requests are granted they forget that they ever made a vow in respect of the granted request.
- Selfishness: Some because they want to satisfy self, soon divert the vow to their own use. This attitude is self- destructive.
Q2. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT FULFILLING OUR VOWS?
The performance of solemn vows is strictly enjoined upon us in Scripture, Eccl 5:4. The consequences of not fulfilling our vows, are as much as the rewards of fulfilling them. These consequences, include unanswered prayers. When such a person prays God will not take the one serious. This is because God does not take delight in anyone that wavers, James 1:6.
When the prayer is not answered, it means that there is no good relationship between God and the one who made the vow. This will lead to lack of joy and peace. It will also open doors for the enemy (the devil) to gain entry into such a life, a cause set-backs in marriage, business/job, career, etc.
To believers who fail to fulfil/pay their vows, vows have turned out to be a plague instead of being a catalyst to receiving from God. Vows if not executed incur God’s wrath. Believers should not defer nor neglect to pay their vows. It should not be treated with levity as it will be to the detriment of the one that made the vow.
Q3. DISCUSS THE EXAMPLES IN SCRIPTURES OF INDIVIDUALS THAT VOWED UNTO GOD.
There are several challenging examples of those that vowed to God and the steps they took to pay/fulfil such vows.
- Jacob, Gen 38:10-22, 35:6-7: In Gen 27, we read that Jacob took the blessing of his brother, Esau from their father with subtility, and as a result Esau hated him. Consequently Jacob fled to Haran on the advice of their mother, v. 43, and father, v. 28:1-7. While running from the brother, evening caught-up with Jacob and he slept using stones for his pillow and dreamt of the ladder that reached to heaven. With the heavenly vision, Jacob called the place Bethel and there he vowed, (28:20- 22). “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the LORD be my GOD. And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee”. Notice however that God acknowledged later that Jacob’s vow was unto Him, Gen 31:13. In His infinite mercies, GOD directed Jacob to go and settle in Bethel. Jacob acknowledged that God answered him in the period of distress, carried all his household and journeyed to Bethel; there he worshipped GOD and built an altar, thus fulfilling his vow.
- Israel as a Nation, Num 21:1-3: While on the journey from Egypt to the promised land. Israel as a nation met with several oppositions and fought wars. During the third of such wars, Israel vowed unto the LORD: “If thou wilt indeed deliver this people unto my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities”. It is written that GOD “Hearkened to the voice of Israel”, gave them victory over their oppressor/enemy and the nation did as they vowed.
- Jephthah, Judges 11:27-39: After the death of Moses and Joshua, the nation of Israel derailed from serving God faithfully and hand judges as Leaders of the people. Jephthah was the tenth judge, described as a “mighty man of valor”, was invited by the elders to lead the nation in the war against the Amorites. In his burning desire for victory over the oppressive Amorites, Jephthah made solemn vow unto the LORD. In verse 30-31, he said “if thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peach from the children of Ammon shall surely be the LORD’s and I ill offer it for a burnt offering.”
In the fight against the “children of Ammon”, we read that “the LORD delivered them into his hands” such that the Amorites were really subdued. On returning from the war, the “whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house” was his daughter, an only child; she came out with joy and gladness, with dances, for the victory. Jephthah was however not forgetful of the vow made to GOD; he was grieved to see that his only child was the first thing to come out of his house, to be used for the fulfillment of his vow. He told the daughter about the vow, and in the circumstance, she was also willing to fulfil her part in the vow made by her father to GOD. Thus Jephthah, “…. did with her according to his vow which he had vowed…”, v.39. Running through the scriptures there are other examples of those who vowed and were diligent to fulfil such vows.
Q4. DISCUSS THE RESULTANT EFFECT OF FULFILLMENT/ PERFORMANCEOF VOWS?
As we fear GOD reverently and discipline ourselves to fulfill the vows made, our integrity with confidence in GOD is unquestionable. Also, the performance of solemn vows is strictly enjoined upon us in Scripture, Eccl 5:4. Since the performance of a vow is unto GOD, Ps 50:14, 65:1, the resultant effect is far beyond human imagination. One is not under obligation to make a vow, but if he/she does, that individual is responsible for his/her words, Ps 76:11. In Deut. 23:21-23, we read “when thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy GOD will surely require it of thee …. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a free will offering, according as thou has vowed unto the LORD thy GOD, which thou hast promised with thy mouth”.
Performance of vows is an evidence of submission to the sovereignty of GOD, a way of consecration, humility and obedience to Him. In this position, prayers are answered, we decree a thing and it is established, and the light of GOD shines upon our ways, Job 22:27-28. And individual who “pays” his/her vows will enjoy the peace of God, be given the heritage of those that fear the name of GOD”, Ps 61:5. This includes heritage of safety, deliverance, divine health, abundance of life, supply, and grace; with blessings on the work of our hands.
Daily Living Application
Vow, as a promise made to GOD, is either general or particular and special. It must be made deliberately and devoutly, not as a result of sudden passion or emotion or under pressure from someone. We are strictly enjoined that vows made should be performed; otherwise it will be recorded as sin to attract the wrath of GOD. It is better not to vow to God than that an individual should vow and not pay. Many make vows/pledges to God today and treat it lightly; but the Scriptures enjoin us to “pay that which thou hast vowed”, Eccl 5:4. Because GOD is in heaven unto whom vows are made and we are upon the earth, the attendant heavenly blessings upon the life and ways of the vow payer can not be perfectly enumerated and assessed except by revelation. Some of these however, have been highlighted in the study.
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it, for He hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed”.
Daily Devotional Guide
Monday: God honors our vows.
Tuesday: A nation vows to GOD.
Wednesday: A woman fulfils her vow to GOD.
1 Sam 1:9-28
Thursday: Performance of vow is not to man.
Ps 50:14, 65:1
Friday: Do not slack to pay your vow.
Ps 76:11; Deut. 23:21-23
Saturday: Benefit in paying vows.
Job 22:27-28; Ps 61:5