We should ‘PAY OUT’ our ‘PROMISES’ to GOD
February 8 Bible Reading: Leviticus Chapters 25-27
Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When a man consecrates by a vow certain persons to the Lord, according to your valuation...all that anyone gives to the Lord shall be holy...no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the Lord." (Lev. 27:1-2, 9, 28)
Moses closed the Book of Leviticus by exhorting Israel to present to the Lord dedicatory offerings, and then to pay out their promises to God. These promises were offered not to gain any favor with God but as expressions of gratitude and commitment to Him for all the manifestations of His grace. However, even voluntary offerings were not be done at the whim of the worshiper and in a self-chosen manner, but were to follow certain guidelines that God had laid out, which were necessary to offer gifts to God in a way that pleased Him.
The promises made to God could be people, cattle, houses, and fields for the service at the tabernacle. It was possible to offer oneself or a member of one’s family to the full-time service of God, as we see in the way Samuel was offered by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). In a moment of extreme joy or trial, a Jew might make a vow to God, offering to give Him something valuable in return for His blessing (see Judg. 11:29–40; 2 Sam. 15:7, 8; Jonah 2:9). This included commitments regarding people (vv. 2-8), animals (vv. 9-13), houses (vv. 14, 15), land property (vv. 16-24), and even tithes (vv. 30-33). However, every person who was offered in this manner had to be redeemed according to the regulations prescribed by God (vv. 3–8). The purpose of these regulations was to prevent foolish or rash commitments and to warn against the temptation to forget or alter vows.
The principle involved in estimating the value of persons was that the greatest value was placed on males in the prime of life, from ages twenty to sixty. Thereafter, the value decreased drastically, indicating the decline that comes with age. Females and those under age twenty were also valued accordingly. What this all meant was that the person making this voluntary vow would pay this sum to the Lord within a specified time. By redeeming at a certain price the person dedicated to the sanctuary, the Israelite gave the value of the gift he had vowed. Vows were strictly voluntary, but once an Israelite made a vow, he was obligated to pay his vow. A vow of consecration was very special to God, and if a person was vowed to God, then the redemption price was to be paid to the priest in due time.
We should clearly understand that God never demands from us that we pay Him vows. In fact, in His Sermon of the Mount, Jesus admonishes us against swearing, but commands us to be true to our word: "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 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." (Matt. 5:33-37)