He Shall Bear Her Guilt
Long before we got to this chapter, my friend Sergio emailed me with a thought about what is going on here in Numbers 30, that was on August 15, 2018. I had never taken the time to really look over the verses, and thought, “Well, isn’t that the cat’s meow.”
I saved his thought under my sermon notes which are for future sermons and eventually on the 29th of July of this year, I got to sit down and type an evaluation of today’s passage. Until then, I wasn’t going to commit one way or another to his thoughts.
We have to go where the word leads. Advance guessing leads to presuppositions, and presuppositions more often than not lead to faulty doctrine. But within the first five or six hours of sermon typing, it was pretty evident that his speculation was spot on.
I would like to say, “Oh yeah, I would have figured that out,” but I’d better not. Instead, “Thanks Sergio. Great insight.”
Text Verse: “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.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37
Jesus’ words here do not negate the requirements of the law which are partially revealed in our verses today. Rather, they uphold them and further refine what the Lord expects. This is so certain, that James substantially repeats Jesus’ words in his epistle. He says –
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.” James 5:12
Our words reflect what is on our mind, they reflect what we hold sacred, and they reflect the state of our heart – all at the same time. Sometimes our minds and hearts get out of whack, and we make rash statements that we might later regret.
The best option is to listen a lot, think carefully, and speak little. If we get those out of order, or if we don’t apply one or any of these, we are sure to fall into error. And with error comes judgment.
Another thing we will be judged on is how we treated God’s word. Normally, the Pulpit Commentary does a pretty sweet job of evaluating Scripture. But whoever was assigned the latter portion of Numbers has shown a rather liberal streak. Here are his comments on verse 1 –
“The statement, peculiar to this passage, that these instructions were issued to the ‘heads of the tribes’ itself serves to differentiate it from all the rest of the ‘statutes’ given by Moses, and suggests that this chapter was inserted either by some other hand or from a different source.”
That really riles me up. The guy who made this commentary must have been on the board at Cambridge. Let’s just make stuff up, tear the Bible apart, and call ourselves “Bible scholars.” We’ll explain what this person couldn’t figure out, and we’ll continue to hold to the truth that this word isn’t a hodgepodge from various sources, nor is it a word which has arbitrary inserts in it.
Rather, it is a marvelous, intricate, and divinely-inspired source of marvel and wonder. Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Vows and Binding Agreements (verses 1-16)
Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel,
Here is something rather unusual. Quite often the Lord’s words through Moses will be to all the children of Israel, or to the whole congregation, or something similar. Here, in a unique occurrence, Moses is said to speak to the rashe ha’matot, or “heads of the tribes,” concerning the children of Israel.
This unusual address is certainly given based on the nature of what will be explained in the chapter. What is to be presented is similar to that of the redemption or disposition of things dedicated or devoted to the Lord which was recorded in Leviticus 27.
However, this goes beyond that to the act of making the vow in the first place, and who has the authority to override such a vow, and who is obligated to such a vow without the chance of being released from it.
Addressing this to the heads of the tribes shows that it is something which enters into the sphere of family life itself. The heads of the tribes speak for those under them, and they are to be aware of the commands and always be ready to convey what is laid out here to all under them. What is presented here is actually followed closely by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. Moses now begins his words to these heads of the tribes…
1 (con’t) saying, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded:
zeh ha’dabar asher tsivah Yehovah – “this the word which has commanded Yehovah.” Moses’ words are not merely cultural precepts which Moses is conveying from his own perspective, but they are the word of the Lord as commanded by Him.
The reason for what will be presented being placed here is probably two-fold. First, the issue of a female receiving her father’s inheritance was resolved in Numbers 27 when the five daughters of Zelophehad came forward concerning their father’s inheritance.
Secondly, immediately after that came the required offerings of Israel throughout the calendar year – the daily, Sabbath, monthly, and annual offerings. At the end of those two chapters, it said –
“These you shall present to the Lord at your appointed feasts (besides your vowed offerings and your freewill offerings) as your burnt offerings and your grain offerings, as your drink offerings and your peace offerings.” Numbers 29:39
There are required offerings, and there are vowed offerings. This section now deals with vows, and so it must be considered who has the responsibility in determining if the vow stands or not. The final verse of Chapter 29 said, “So Moses told the children of Israel everything, just as the Lord commanded Moses.”
In the Hebrew Bible, that verse actually begins Chapter 30. The connection is obvious. A matter concerning the rights of women was presented, the matter of presenting vows has been raised, and so the matter of the binding nature of the vow must be addressed.
It may even be that the heads of the tribes wanted to know what to do if this situation arose. Now that women were explicitly allowed to be inheritors, how would the matter of vows within a family be resolved? Whatever precipitated it, Moses begins with…
2 If a man
The first consideration is the sex and age of the one being spoken of here. First, it is a male. The same matters concerning females will be addressed later. Secondly, this is speaking of a man, not a child too young to be involved in what will be presented.
2 (con’t) makes a vow to the Lord,
There are now two separate things which are to be addressed. The first is ish ki yidor neder l’Yehovah, or “Man if vowing a vow to Yehovah.” A vow to the Lord consists of a promise to give something to Him. Such an offering was usually made during times of danger or special needs.
This is exactly what Jephthah is said to do in Judges 11:30. There he vowed to make a burnt offering of whatever first came out of the doors of his house if the Lord would give him victory in battle.
There it says, v’yidar yiphtakh neder, “And vowed Jephthah a vow.” Unfortunately for him, what first came out of his doors wasn’t a chicken or a goat. Rather, it was his own daughter. He had vowed, and the Bible says he fulfilled his vow to the Lord.
Philo says that such a rash vow was never to be kept because “he who commits an unjust action because of his vow adds one crime to another.” The Bible does not state this, nor does it appear to agree with this, particularly in the case of Jephthah.
One must consider which is of more import, refusing to fulfill a bad vow which was made to the Lord, or following through with a bad vow because it was, in fact, made to the Lord. Guilt is incurred either way, but which is the most important to accomplish? For the man, the Lord expects the vow to be fulfilled.
2 (con’t) or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement,
The second matter is hishava shevuah lesor isar al naphsho, or “swears oath to bind a binding on his soul.” In this is a new word, isar. It is a noun coming from the common verb also in this verse, asar, which means to tie, bind, or even imprison. Thus, this is a bond or a binding obligation.
When one makes a vow, he binds himself to it. It is as if he is imprisoned by the obligation and he cannot get himself free from it from that point on. Amazingly, this word will be used eleven times in Scripture, but all eleven are here in Chapter 30 of Numbers.
The word’s root is found seventy times, such as the imprisonment of Joseph while he was in Egypt, and it is found in the wonderful words of release described by Isaiah –
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound. Isaiah 61:1
This would be an oath or an agreement which would be placed upon oneself, or it would be between a person and another person, or even an oath to God (see Ecc. 8:2). Such an oath is made in the presence of the Lord, and it is binding. It is as if the Lord is a party to the matter either directly or indirectly. In such a case…
2 (con’t) he shall not break his word;
lo yakhel debaro – “No shall he profane his word.” John Lange notes that the form of the verb “seems to imply the desecration of the subject itself, not the mere treating it in a profane way. The broken word is desecrated.” This can be seen in such an oath as is recorded in Nehemiah 10 where the word shevuah, or oath, is used.
The exiles had returned to Israel and they made a covenant before the Lord concerning their intentions to be faithful to Him. There it says –
“these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:” Nehemiah 10:29
If the people broke this oath, they would desecrate themselves. This is why when this word is used by the Lord in Scripture, we can be absolutely assured that the oath will come to pass. A perfect example of this is the Lord’s shevuah, or oath, concerning the land of Israel –
He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
10 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance.” Psalm 105:7-11
This oath is referred to in Jeremiah 11:5. The oath is made, but there are conditions upon it. The land is the Lord’s. He has given it to Israel. When they are obedient, they may dwell in it. When they are not, they may not, but the oath stands. So it is to be with the people…
2 (con’t) he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
When the vow or oath is made, the Lord says that it shall be accomplished. The word itself is to be considered authoritative and binding. In our text verse, we saw that Jesus took this one step further, He told the people that they were to have every word that came from their mouths be as sure and as fixed as this law. When someone says, “Yes,” it is to be followed through with. No word which issues from the mouth is to be allowed to fail.
3 “Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by some agreement
This now turns from the male, who is obligated and who must perform, to the woman. Here, she makes a vow to the Lord. It could be a Nazirite vow, as described in Numbers 6, for example. In this, she would be binding herself to the vow according to the word spoken. However, there is a caveat now presented…
3 (con’t) while in her father’s house in her youth,
This is a female, under authority of her father, and at an age where she is not yet considered in a position to speak for herself. The responsibility for her vow belongs to him…
4 and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand.
The father is the head of the house in this situation. She is dependent upon him, and he is responsible for the conduct of the house, the operation of the house, the finances of the house, and so on. When such a female under his authority makes a vow, any of these could be affected because she is dependent on him.
If he hears such a vow which would bind her, even if it could affect him, and he says nothing about the matter, then what she has vowed or agreed to will stand. His silence is its own voice, and it bears its own binding authority.
In essence, the father has a legal right to authority in such matters. When he does not exercise that right by negating the vow, he has granted her an acquired right which now has legal standing. She has become legally obligated to what has been vowed. But, importantly, so has he.
What is implied is that this is speaking of the father’s knowledge. This does not apply to a vow which was spoken, and of which he is unaware. At the time he becomes aware of it, and if he says nothing, it is then biding. On the other hand…
5 But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will release her, because her father overruled her.
Here is a new word, nu. It signifies to refuse, forbid, neutralize, etc. The girl has spoken a vow, and her father hears of it and overrules what she has said. The vow is not considered binding and it is rescinded. He has exercised his legal right in this matter and, as it says, “v’Yehovah yishlakh lah, “and Yehovah will release her.”
What is painfully obvious here is that the Lord has set a hierarchy within the house, and He defers to that hierarchy in such matters. This is the same premise as that which Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 11, and he says this same family hierarchy stands within the Christian community. John Lange, a Bible scholar of the 1800’s, disappointingly notes –
“It is only an emasculated modern liberalism which would reverse this divinely appointed order of nature, and constitute woman the mistress, give her control of the household in things of religion.” John Lange
One can see the frustration in Lange’s words at the state of the church as it was already, two full centuries ago, as it was casting off this God-ordained hierarchy. Today there is very little of the biblical propriety of male spiritual authority within the church left. Indeed, it is considered improper by much of the church.
One thing which seems obvious is to question why only daughters are discussed here. It says nothing of young men who might still be in the house. What seems logical is that because young males, at some point, would become masters of their own house, they would not transfer to the authority of another.
Whereas a young woman would pass from the authority of her father to a husband. Any vow they made could then affect the state of the future husband. The father would have to consider this in allowing such a vow in a daughter. If she vows and the father says nothing, that vow will remain in full force when she transfers to a husband. However…
6 “If indeed she takes a husband,
Care of translation here is important to understand what is going on. The Hebrew reads, v’im hayo tihyeh la’ish. “If being she be to a man.” This is not speaking of a woman who is married and in her husband’s house. That will be addressed later.
This is speaking of a woman who is still in her father’s house, but she is now betrothed to a man. Though still under her father’s care, she is – for all intents and purposes – bound to her betrothed. Anything she says which could affect him from that point on is given to him for consideration. This law of betrothal is found in regards to another circumstance in Deuteronomy 22 –
“If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.” Deuteronomy 22:23, 24
This is the same law which is tenderly considered in Matthew 1 where Joseph was betrothed to Mary, and yet she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. It is this state which is next spoken of concerning vows…
6 (con’t) while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself,
u-nedareha aleha o mibta sephateha asher aserah al naphsah – “and her vows shall be upon her, or a rash utterance of her lips, by which she has bound her soul.” The idea is that while in a state of betrothal, she vows or makes a rash utterance by which she has become bound.
Here is a new and rare word, mibta or rash utterance. It will be only seen here and in verse 8. It is from bata, meaning to speak rashly or thoughtlessly. She has babbled out something rash. However, she is duly considered under the authority of this man due to the betrothal. Therefore, he has the legal rights over her.
7 and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand.
The betrothed husband hears what has been said and says nothing when he hears about it. In this, and because he had the legal right and conceded it to her, what she says now becomes legally binding. It cannot be reversed, and she must follow through with the vow. After their marriage is consummated, he cannot change it…
8 But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and the Lord will release her.
As was the case with the father, so is the case with the betrothed husband. The authority over her has transferred to him, and he may override the vow, and the Lord will release her. Again, and for the second and last time in Scripture, the word mibta, or rash utterance, is used. She babbled out something unwise, and she is overridden.
What is seen here, and that which will continue to be seen, is that the one designated to be the head of the house is given the discretion to determine the propriety of those things which fall under his authority. He could accept them or reject them. But once accepted through verbal acknowledgment, or through silence, the matters stood and were to be carried through to their fulfillment.
9 “Also any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.
Verse 16 will sum up the entire passage, noting the examples where a woman’s’ vow can be accepted or overturned by whatever authority she was under. These words here still fall under that premise. What is said is in the perfect tense. She has bound herself.
It is, like verse 1, a statement of certainty. When a woman who is widowed or divorced has made any type of vow, it is binding upon her, and it shall stand. This would include a woman who was divorced or widowed who would then return to her father’s house. That is noted elsewhere, such as in Leviticus 22:13.
Because she was freed from her father’s authority to a husband, and because she was freed from her husband’s authority through death or divorce, any vow she has made, even if in her father’s house, remains binding. This includes if it was made while under her husband, it still stands even if her husband dies or he divorces her. This is seen in the next words…
10 “If she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath,
The words are in the perfect tense – “And if in house of her husband she vowed.” This then is explaining the previous verse. Divorce or widowhood does not negate a vow she has made. The husband had the same authority over the woman as the father had over her. If a woman made a vow or bound herself by an agreement with an oath…
11 and her husband heard it, and made no response to her and did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand.
The oath was made while the marriage was in effect. The husband heard, and he did not overrule what she uttered. The verbs are in the perfect tense. These things happened. If so, the vows stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself is binding.
As it says it “shall stand.” What occurred in the past is fixed and firm into the future. The idea here could be something vowed for any reason at all. To give a simple example, a woman may have tired of her husband and thought, “I know how to get away from him for a while.”
And so she says, “Dear husband, I vow to go to church every Thursday for Bible class and every Sunday to listen to Charlie’s prophecy updates and sermons. Unless I’m sick or have some other reason that absolutely keeps me from going, I vow to do this.”
The husband, thoroughly relieved to get some peace on Thursday and Sunday, and wishing Charlie had more classes throughout the week, simply says nothing. Her vow would stand. It has become the law for her. However, when her husband dies or divorces her, she might think, “I really am tired of going to church. There is so much more I can get done now that I have the house all to myself.” It is tough bananas for her. She had made the vow, and despite her new situation, the vow stands. Despite this…
12 But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and the Lord will release her.
v’im haper yaper otam ishah – “and if annulling he annuls them her husband.” A different word is used than of the father overruling the daughter in verse 5. Here, it is a word which means to break, as in a covenant, or to annul it. In this case, it is to annul what is said.
If he takes this action, then whatever she said would not stand. As it says then a third time using the same word, he “has annulled them.” In this annulment of her words, the Lord will release her from them, demonstrating that He has allowed the husband authority over the wife’s words.
The hierarchy which the Lord deems is correct and proper is maintained. She may still wisely choose to come to the Bible classes and weekly sermons, but she is under no obligation to do so, both during the life of her marriage and afterwards.
13 Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void.
Here again, both types of interactions are referred to which are described in this chapter – the vow and the binding oath. Whatever she utters in either case, her husband may confirm it, meaning cause it to stand, or he may parar, or annul it.
This word parar, now used again, is the source of the word par, or bull which is described numerous times as being used in the sacrifices offered to the Lord. In type, that bull consistently looked forward to Christ who would defeat the devil, making void – or annulling his power – over man.
14 Now if her husband makes no response whatever to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her; he confirms them, because he made no response to her on the day that he heard them.
Here, as has been the case several times, it speaks in the plural of kal nedareha and kal esareha, or “all vows and all agreements.” It is a way of saying that the overriding of any vows, or the agreeing to any vows come as individual instances. Any that are annulled are not binding. Any that were not annulled are binding.
The annulling of one vow does not annul any others. And the confirming of one vow does not confirm all. And in all cases of vows, the husband has the authority over the woman to annul, or he cedes his authority to her over whatever matter is concerned when he stays silent or agrees to her vows.
An example of what we have seen in these verses is found in 1 Samuel 1 where Hanna, the wife of Elkanah, made a vow to the Lord to give her child to the Lord for all the days of his life. Elkanah is never seen to have overruled her, and thus the vow is binding. Because of this, we read the following –
“Hannah did not go and explained to her husband, ‘After the child is weaned, I’ll take him to appear in the LORD’s presence and to stay there permanently.’
23 Her husband Elkanah replied, ‘Do what you think is best, and stay here until you’ve weaned him. May the LORD confirm your word.’ So Hannah stayed there and nursed her son until she weaned him.” 1 Samuel 1:22, 23 (Holman CSB)
The word isar, meaning to tie or bind, was introduced in verse 2. This is now its eleventh and last time to be seen in Scripture. The heavy stress upon this word shows that such agreements are binding, meaning there are consequences for making them, and it is the authority of the father or the husband to determine what will be done concerning the matter in order to finalize it.
15 But if he does make them void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.”
v’im haper yaper otam ahare shameo v’nasa eth avonah – “And if annulling he annuls them after he has heard and shall bear her guilt.” Well, doesn’t that just set the whole passage into its proper place. If the husband annuls them, after he has heard, he shall bear her guilt. Here the word parar, or annul, is again used, twice. If there is an annulling after the vow is made, the husband bears the guilt. Of this, Cambridge says –
“If, after tacitly consenting at the time that he heard of the vow, he compels her at a later time to break it, then Jehovah will not (as in the foregoing cases) forgive, but the iniquity will rest upon the husband and not upon the woman.” Cambridge
The premise is correct, but the analysis is flawed. So is true with the Pulpit Commentary which closely mirrors that of Cambridge –
“…if he tacitly allowed the vow in the first instance, and afterwards forbad its fulfillment, the guilt which such breach of promise involved should rest upon him.” Pulpit Commentary
Their analysis is further off. It doesn’t say, “forbad its fulfillment.” Instead, it says “annulled.” Further, it isn’t a single vow that is spoken of. The words refer to the plural – them. It doesn’t say, “And if he annuls a vow after he has heard it.” And it doesn’t say, “And if he annuls each agreement after he has heard it.” Rather, it speaks of them in the plural.
After that, the words say v’nasa eth avonah, “And he shall bear her guilt.” She was the one to receive guilt for not performing the vow, and her performing or not performing the vow isn’t even mentioned. She is completely left out of the equation from this point on. Instead, by hearing the vows of the wife, and by later annulling the vows, the husband bears the guilt of the wife. Sound familiar?
*16 (fin) These are the statutes which the Lord commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, and between a father and his daughter in her youth in her father’s house.
The hierarchy is set, and it gives the right to the father of the daughter to make decisions concerning vows and oaths in regard to his daughter, and it gives the right and responsibility to the husband concerning the same.
There is nothing demeaning in this, and there is every reason to see the marvelous wonder of what God would do in Christ in it. The law is given, and what the law says must be adhered to, including the bearing of guilt by the husband for the annulling of the vows and oaths of the wife.
I am your Husband, and you are My wife
I have chosen you to always be by My side
We are joined together as one in life
And for you I shall always be your life’s guide
When you make a vow that you should not make
Or when you make a vow that I find AOK
The appropriate action, I will take
I will make the decision on that very day
And if a vow that you make I allow to stand
And if I see that you cannot bear up under it
I will take the consequences the Lord does demand
I will bear your iniquity so that you He will acquit
II. Annulling of the Vows
Chapter 30 of Numbers is one of those places in the Bible that modern women certainly hate. To them, the God of the Bible is an ogre who wants to subjugate women, and a male-oriented conspiracy is set in place to perpetuate this concept.
The verses here never mention a son, even when it should apply. The rash vows of a little boy are never mentioned, but the vows of a daughter, and even a wife – a fully developed woman are. And, the vows of a woman that were made binding while she was under her husband’s authority continue to be binding even after his death or divorce. “Ha! I don’t think so” they would say.
What the Lord is teaching us here is a lesson first in authority. God is God and He has established the levels of authority. These are His choices, and it is His sovereign right to define them. He is also teaching us of the necessity of keeping one’s vows, no matter how absurd they are.
If we make a vow to the Lord, nothing here suggests that the vow is not binding, even if it was a nutty one. Although scholars continuously teach this, it is not a precept found in Scripture. One of the reasons for the Lord’s being adamant in this is because He has spoken vows which are recorded in Scripture. His nature demands that they will be upheld, despite the failings of those He has vowed to. In Daniel 9:11 it says –
“Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.” Daniel 9:11
The word there translated as “oath” is one used in this passage, shevuah. The Lord made a covenant with Israel, and Israel agreed to it with their own mouths. Thus, this oath goes two ways. The Lord has made His own promises and guarantees – which include the curses for disobedience – to Israel, and Israel agreed to the Lord’s words.
“So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has said we will do.’” Exodus 24:3
Those words qol asher dibber Yehovah na’aseh v’nishma, are properly translated as “All which the LORD has said we will do, and we will hear.” They agreed, in advance, to do what He would say, even before hearing all that He would say – “We will do, and we will hear.”
The Book of the Covenant that was presented to the people in Exodus 24 is not the entire body of the law. It is what the entire body of the law is based on. From that time on, everything which was explained to them was a part of their oath to the Lord.
The covenant continued to be agreed upon as Moses renewed it in Deuteronomy 29:1. Later, for example at the time of Joshua, the people again agreed that they would serve the Lord. They made an oath and Joshua set up a pillar as a witness to them. As he said –
“Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” Joshua 24:27
At the time of King Josiah, it says –
“Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3
And again, this was repeated after the exile by the people in Nehemiah 9 & 10 when they called out that they were making a sure covenant with the Lord.
These and other such times indicate a wife who made vows to her Husband, the Lord. It is a title used of Him toward Israel several times, either directly, or as an analogy. The Lord was a Father to the people until the time was right.
Eventually, the people, the congregation of Israel, became a wife in a covenant relationship with the Lord. They vowed, He heard the vows, and He allowed them to stand. The words were binding on them, and to not fulfill their words brought avon, or iniquity – meaning guilt – upon them.
However, the Lord would not allow this to continue forever. Eventually, He stepped into the relationship in a new way. He Himself came forward to meet the demands of the oaths and to live the life that Israel is convincingly shown to have failed to measure up to, time and again. One failed vow after another. The power of the law stood over Israel, and as the author of Hebrews says –
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrew 2:14, 15
It is through law that sin is imputed, and it is through sin that the devil has power over the people. But this is where Christ steps in. He is the true High Priest. In Israel, when the High Priest sacrificed for his sins each year on the Day of Atonement, he would offer a, par, or bull for his sin.
That par is derived from the same word, parar, used 7 times today to indicate the annulling of the vow. It is that bull, in type of Christ, who defeated the devil, making void His power of death.
In Christ’s assuming the position within the covenant people, He became a part of the bride. Imagine that. He was of the people. They were under the sentence, they were bound in the prison of the oaths that they had made, and He joined them there.
And in living out those oaths, He also annulled them. The same Lord did both. He fulfilled them and He took the consequence of annulling them. This is why the final verse of the passage says, “And if annulling he annuls them after he has heard, and shall bear her guilt.” He annulled all of the oaths – from Exodus through Nehemiah and on, plural, and He assumed their guilt.
He could be released from the guilt through performance. However, the body of people, His bride, could not be. And so He assumed the penalty that the law said would come upon the husband if the vows she had spoken with her mouth were agreed to. In this, He bore her avon, or iniquity. That is stated explicitly three times in Isaiah 53 –
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5, 6
“He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11
Modern-day feminists are angry for absolutely no reason at all. The Lord placed Himself under the same supposedly oppressive state that they claim they are under in the law, and He did it for them. Those Jews who accepted the premise have become a part of His true Bride, and for those Gentiles who accept this premise, they too are brought into this amazing New Covenant relationship.
Some don’t understand what God is doing in the world. They claim the term “the bride of Christ” is never mentioned in the Bible. It is, just not with those words. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 11:2 –
“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
So much for the idiotic doctrine known as Hyperdispensationalism. We – Jew and Gentile – are the Lord’s betrothed, meaning we stand in exactly the same relationship as the woman who was promised to a husband in verses 6-8 of the passage today. We are betrothed to Christ, and thus we are His bride.
We are being prepared for our presentation to Him, and unlike the Old Covenant relationship, we do not have a humongous and impossible body of laws to observe. Rather, we have one primary responsibility which is to be joined to the Lord.
All other responsibilities after that fall under that which is pleasing to Him, or that which displeases Him, but none fall under the category of incurred guilt. No! The Lord has borne our guilt and freed us from it. Rather, we are His from the moment we join to Him, and so let us be sure that we are – in fact – joined to Him. The gospel tells us how to make that happen.
Closing Verse: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
For He has no pleasure in fools.
Pay what you have vowed—
5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5
Next Week: Numbers 31:1-11 Another of Israel’s warring fights… (Take Vengeance on the Midianites) (59th Numbers Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It may seem at times as if you are lost in a desert, wandering aimlessly. But the Lord is there, carefully leading you to the Land of Promise. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
He Shall Bear Her Guilt
Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes
Concerning the children of Israel, saying,
“This is the thing which the Lord has commanded:
These word to you from Him, I am now relaying
If a man makes a vow to the Lord
Or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement
———-maybe to some sort of deeds
He shall not break his word
He shall do according to all that out of his mouth proceeds
“Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord
And binds herself by some agreement
———-by making that agreement sound
While in her father’s house in her youth
And her father hears her vow and the agreement
———-by which she has herself bound
And her father holds his peace
Then all her vows shall stand
And every agreement with which she has bound herself
So it shall stand; this is what the law does demand
But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears
Then none of her vows nor her agreements
———-by which she has bound herself shall stand
And the Lord will release her
Because her father overruled her; it’s the rule of the land
“If indeed she takes a husband
While bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips
By which she bound herself
And her husband hears it, to his ears the sound drips
And makes no response to her on the day that he hears
Then her vows shall stand
And her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand
Such is the rule of the land
But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it
He shall make void her vow which she took, for sure
And what she uttered with her lips
By which she bound herself, and the Lord will release her
“Also any vow of a widow or a divorced woman
———-be aware of this for sure
By which she has bound herself, shall stand against her
“If she vowed in her husband’s house
Or bound herself with an oath by an agreement
And her husband heard it, and made no response to her
And did not overrule her, after out of her mouth it went
Then all her vows shall stand; it is the rule of the land
And every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand
But if her husband truly made them void
On the day he heard them; yes he voided them for sure
Then whatever proceeded from her lips
Concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her
It shall not stand; her husband has them void made
And the Lord will release her, the vows have been stayed
Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul
———-which she has employed
Her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void
Now if her husband makes no response whatever
———-to her from day to day
Then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her
He confirms them, because he made no response to her
On the day that he heard them, she is bound to them for sure
But if after he has heard them he does make them void
Then he shall bear her guilt, because he has this tactic employed
These are the statutes which the Lord commanded Moses
Between a man and his spouse
And between a father and his daughter in her youth
In her father’s house
Lord God, we are even now in a wilderness
And we are wanting to be led by You
Without You to direct, our lives would be a mess
And so be our guide, O God; You who are faithful and true
We long for the water in this barren land
May it flow forth from the Rock, our souls to satisfy
Give us this refreshing, spiritual hand
And may we take it, and to our lives daily it apply
And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days
Hallelujah and Amen…