Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Jesus deals with two more illustrations-divorce and vows. These illustrate SECRET #21: The follower of Jesus does not take his vows lightly; he is a man of his word.
Here’s what Jesus taught: “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matthew 5:31-37)
Divorce was allowed by Moses in the Law as an accommodation to the failure of a marriage. The reasons were as loose as they are today-even for being obnoxious! The religious of the day were basically concerned about doing their paperwork and then they could move ahead with divorce. Your marriage is a serious commitment and therefore divorce is a serious offense. God hates divorce. He hates it, because it brings destruction and distortion to the individuals and to His image.
With respect to vows we find another misapplication of their religious teachings and practices-making oaths or vows they did not intend to keep. They made many vows (promises), but found ways to get around them. This was not in legal situations, but in ordinary conversation.
Jesus is referring to: 1-Swearing that something is true when one knows it is false. 2-Failing to do what one has promised under oath. The Pharisaical practice was to trick people (usually the outsiders) by swearing to do something or that something was true “by heaven” or “by God’s creation (earth)” or “by Jerusalem.” The trick might be to swear “by the Holy Temple” that you will do this or that. But, among the Pharisees they knew that you had to swear “by the gold in the Holy Temple”, then it was binding. They were caught up in getting around doing what they said they would do by the technical use of terms.
Four thoughts here: FIRST-God cannot be separated from life’s transactions. Heaven is God’s throne, earth is God’s footstool and Jerusalem is the Messiah’s Capitol. SECOND-Don’t make vows you don’t intend to keep. THIRD-Don’t make vows that depend upon your control as if you are in control. God is still in ultimate control-“if God wills”.
FOURTH-Fulfill your vows to the Lord by being clear with your words-yes means yes and no means no. Here are some practical applications: 1. Always speak the truth and you won’t need to hedge with some sort of oath. 2. When you make an oath, keep it. 3. Do not make someone else responsible for your statements.
God is still on His throne, talk like it!