Morning: Matthew 5:33-42; Noon: Exodus 26:1-28:30; Evening: Psalm 25
As noted previously, Jesus was not destroying the old law, but rather He was fulfilling it. Jesus was restoring its true form, while also tilling the ground for the ushering in of a New Covenant, a “new pact” if you will between God and man. The old law was very clear about solemn oaths. “You shall not swear falsely by My name,” but “you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth” (Lev. 19:12; Deu. 23:23). It was really that simple. However, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had once again skirted the law and introduced unauthorized loopholes.
One can infer from Jesus’ following statements that the Scribes and Pharisees had introduced certain levels of oaths and vows. If one took an oath by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or even one’s own head, these allegiances appeared to carry a much greater obligation than that of a simple yes or no. Jesus is more explicit in this matter when later He directly addresses the religious leaders saying, “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it’” (Matt. 23:16). Smooth criminals, indeed! These leaders had probably gotten themselves into a bind a time or two and talked their way out of it through fanciful ideas such as these. Ideas that had probably become very enticing for those who were good at talking, but not good at doing.
Oath taking is not wrong, absolutely. It was permitted under the old law, and Jesus Himself responded under oath when He was questioned if indeed He was the Son of God. Jesus said, “It is as you said” (Mat. 26:63-64). It was the corruption and skirting of the law that Jesus condemned, and today it is no different. Promises, oaths, and vows may strengthen our resolve to complete our word. There are sins that I struggle with time to time where I will go to My Father in prayer and promise to abstain from them. Vows have a way of straightening our backs and focusing our commitment to follow through with our word. But whether I take a vow or simply give a person a yes or no, I should be committed to being a man of my word.
Jesus was a man of His word. Are you?