Sunday, August 24, 2008

More on Vows and Covenants

A friend commented that maybe Christ did away with all covenant making when he taught:

"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matt 5: 33-37)

So, it could seem on the surface that Christ is saying that all vows and covenants should be done aways with when Christ says "swear not at all." But that interpretation leaves out a related scripture. Christ says just before this teaching in Matthew 5:17:

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matt 5:17)

So, in context of this statement which immediately precedes this teaching gives us a don't (thou shalt not) and a do (thou shalt). The prohibition is to not forswear. To forswear means to perjure yourself or not keep your commitments or lie under oath. The "do" part of commandment is that "[thou] shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths." Now, then Christ proceeds to expand upon these commandments but not overturn them. Remember that he came not "to destroy, but to fulfill."

Therefore, when Christ says, "swear not at all" by heaven and earth, nor by thy head because you cannot make one hair white or black, that is not saying there are no more oaths and covenants unto God. That means, when you commit to do something, do not say "By heaven and by earth, I will do it." Just say yes or no.

What the person who says "God willing" or "Si Dios Quiere" is saying is if God enable me to do it (the heavens)-- I will; and if chance or the elements allow (the earth)-- I will, or if my health allows (the head)-- I will. This kind of answer is what the scriptures call "luke-warm thinking" an example of not taking responsibility for ones agreements. If you don't know what God's will is with regard to the agreement then don't agree. But don't say, God willing, but if I fall through then it wasn't meant to be. How can anyone rely on that kind of commitment?

Instead, Christ is teaching that when we enter into agreements, we should take ownership. Before we enter into an agreement, we should hopefully already know or believe that it is God's will, and if it is then we can expect that He will assist, and then it doesn't matter what the elements of earth and chance do. So, if we believe that the agreement is in harmony with God's will then say "yea" and if not then say "nay." That way the execution of the agreement comes down to us fulfilling our word, and the exercise of our agency. And if we do this, we can expect God to assist because while we cannot make one hair on our heads black of white, God can.

And we know from great prophecies in the Bible that God is an unchangeable God and that He is a God of covenants and Gods people are a covenant people. And we read in Ezekiel 37 that in the Last Days that God will establish His tabernacle and sanctuary (temple) in Israel and establish his everlasting covenant among them to purify Israel.

"Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." (Ezek 37:26-28)

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