“DARE TO MAKE A VOW?”
I remember some forty-three years ago, standing before the officiating pastor with anxiety as I solemnly uttered my wedding VOWS to my bride, “Today, before God and these witnesses, I promise you to love you unconditionally, . . . until death do us part . . . .” At that point I was apprehensive and overwhelmed with concern: “What if I could not keep my VOWS; what if I could not fulfill the promises I had declared; what if I defied the words that had just come out of my lips?” I thought. Hence my nervousness.
In ancient times, many VOWS were made and recorded in the Bible. Some were good VOWS and some were not so good ones. Some were kept and some were broken. Jepthath’s VOW was one of those that were not so good. 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” (Judges 11:30, 31). Sadly to say, when Jepthath returned home from battle with great victory, his only child met him at the door. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a VOW to the Lord that I cannot break” (Judges 11:35).
There is a difference between a VOW and a promise, and dictionary helps us to know the difference. A promise, usually, is a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing. It is sometimes okay to break or change. A VOW, however, is a voluntary and solemn promise made to God which, once made, had to be kept and performed. Hence, Jepthath fulfilled his VOW by sacrificing his only child as a burnt offering to God.
Has the story of Jepthath’s VOW made us hesitant to make our own VOWS to God? God forbid! It is alright to make VOWS to God as an expression of our gratitude to Him, but before we make them, we must first think whether they are feasible and obtainable. King Solomon gave his perspective on this, “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vow” (Proverbs 20:25). Thus, stay away from making a VOW to God where there is a possibility of breaking it or changing it.
If we haven’t yet made any VOWS to God, please think about it, spend some time in prayer and ask Jesus to help us in making that best decision to 1) set apart the first moments of each day to commune with God; 2) to reach out to others with the message of salvation; 3) to establish a healthy lifestyle; 4) to faithfully return the Lord’s tithe; 5) to dedicate a regular percentage of our income as a free-will offering; and 6) to devote anything we own to speed up the spreading of the Gospel. Ellen White wrote, “A VOW made to God, the giver of all favors, is of still greater importance, then why should we seek to be released from our VOWS to God? – Counsels on Stewardship, p. 315.
Are we brave enough to dare to make a VOW to God? The choice is ours.