Bible reading for May 21.
"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." (Numbers 30:2)
ON KEEPING VOWS. This chapter relates specifically to women and the vows they make. If someone made a vow -- or promised a gift in support of the Lord's work, or dedicated themselves to a time of service -- he or she was expected to fulfill those commitments. Qualifications were made regarding women, not because they were incapable of making and keeping promises, but because of marriage and family bonds, their vows needed to be affirmed by the head of the family. This related to underage women at home and married women, but not to women who were independent (widowed, divorced, unmarried). In the case of married women it was not good to make a vow independently from the family, as her time, work, and finances would affect the rest of the family. The woman was given as helper to her husband (Gen 2:18) and their marital union made them one (Gen 2:24). This design of authority is reaffirmed in the New Testament, as well (Eph 5:22-33). The design has nothing to do with essential dignity or equality, but rather with function and order in glorifying Christ in this world. Our God is a God of covenant. This means he makes vows, keeps vows, fulfills promises, and demonstrates faithfulness to those with whom he is in covenant. In this life the highest vow we can make is the marriage vow, and it too is designed to be permanent, as long as both shall live.
TAKEAWAY. We must think deeply about why God is so serious about keeping promises. Are we at times being careless in what we promise or commit to? Are we making good on the promises we have made? In weddings that I officiated through the years I would call upon all married persons in the congregation to listen to the vows the bride and groom were making, and evaluate their own marriages -- how well were they fulfilling their own vows?
"Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name. Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever." (Psalm 74:18-19)
DESTRUCTION. Even today in the news we can see pictures of churches burned and worshipers arrested or scattered. The setting of this psalm seems to be the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and with it, the destruction of the temple by the Babylonian forces. From the beginning (Cain and Abel; Gen 4:8-10) the righteous have always been a target for the unrighteous. All the way to the end, God's people cry out, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10) The righteous are called "the poor", and likened to a defenseless dove (74:19). They are those who trust in God alone and confess his name before an uncaring world. They are vulnerable. God alone is their shield, portion, and hope in life. These are the "poor in spirit," of whom Jesus spoke (Matt 5:3).
ARISE, O GOD! (74:22) We believe in a day of reckoning, when the enemies of God's people will face God himself. It may be in this life, or at death, and certainly at the end of human history, but the day of reckoning shall come: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." (Revelation 11:17-18)
TAKEAWAY. A. W. Tozer once wrote, "The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait!" God's glory will be seen both in salvation and in judgment. We can pray for his soon coming but also we must be patient in tribulation. Pray today for those who are especially mistreated as followers of Christ. Pray for the persecutors, that they might be granted repentance, or if not, that they would be judged by God.
Image credit: Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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