A Little Time With The 1689: Day 294

Day 294

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 2.

“…yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an Oath is warranted by the word of God;…”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 6:16

2 Corinthians 1:23

Reflection

“Loose lips sink ships.” A phrase used during World War II, it cautioned against giving out too much information that could be used to the enemy’s advantage. The same phrase could be said today of our propensity to sin with our tongue. How many vows have been rashly made and then sinfully broken?

With such warnings given against improper oath-taking, it may seem easier to never take a vow again. But the Bible does not forbid all use of oaths. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul himself calls upon God to witness the veracity of his statement. The writer of Hebrews mentions oath-taking as a common practice among men, and also the God Himself makes an oath: “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath” (Hebrews 6:17). By these examples we see that lawful oath-taking is a reality.

There are times when the gravity of the situation calls for more than a simple “Sure, I’ll do it!” By entering into an oath, you are performing an act of worship that sets the vow apart from the ordinary. Serious, yes. But forbidden? No.

Questions to Consider

  • Are those who forbid to take oaths justified Biblically in their reasoning?
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A Little Time With The 1689: Day 293

Day 293

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 2.

The Name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all Holy Fear and reverence, therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious, and dreadful name; or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred;…

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 5:34,37

James 5:12

Reflection

In the movie The Princess Bride, the mercenary swordsman Inigo Montoya, told to kill the mysterious stranger who pursues his group, attempts to hasten the ascent of the hero onto the top of a cliff. The conversation goes like this:

Inigo Montoya: But, I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top.

Man in Black: That’s VERY comforting, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait.

Inigo Montoya: I hate waiting. I could give you my word as a Spaniard.

Man in Black: No good. I’ve known too many Spaniards.

Inigo Montoya: Isn’t there any way you trust me?

Man in Black: Nothing comes to mind.

Inigo Montoya: I swear on the soul of my father, Domingo Montoya, you will reach the top alive.

Man in Black: Throw me the rope.

 

While the man in black was impressed by Inigo swearing upon the soul of his own father, it was wrong for Inigo to do so. Why? When you swear by something, you are calling upon that thing to witness your vow and to judge you for it. In order for a vow to be truly in earnest, the one called upon must be all-knowing (in order to know your thoughts) and all-powerful (in order to have the authority and ability to judge you). Inigo’s dead father had neither of these abilities. Inigo as well did not have the power to affect the state of his father’s soul by his oath. Such an oath was meaningless.

God alone is the only being that humans ought to swear by. When He is invoked, it is not to be done rashly. Remember, this is the high king of heaven we are asking to witness our vow. The omniscient and omnipotent, most holy Being who created all things. He is most worthy of our adoration and respect, and His very name should not be tossed about glibly.

Inigo Montoya was quite determined to fulfill his vows. However, his vows were sinful and carried no weight. May we be careful to not swear by anything but God alone, and to do so reverently.

Questions to Consider

  • How often do you hear people vow by anything other than God?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 292

Day 292

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 1.

and to judge him according to the Truth or falseness thereof.

Scripture Lookup

2 Chronicles 6:22, 23

Reflection

 

“So help me God.”

Such a phrase is used at the end of several oaths for public office in the United States. In our culture that thinks little of God it has come to mean that the one taking the oath is promising really hard that he or she will do what is said. For those of us who know the true and living God, how should we view those four words? Is it a call for aid to keep the promise, or a plea for mercy is it is not kept?

Taking an oath is not to be done lightly. Solemnly promising to do something, you are calling upon God to witness that you are making this vow. Not only that, you are asking God to judge you concerning the accomplishment of the oath. The phrase we speak today, “So help me God” is not so much a request for aid in fulfilling this promise, but a call to judgment. The phrase originally read thus: “So may God help me at the judgment day if I speak true, but if I speak false, then may He withdraw His help from me.”

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). As Christ’s people we are saved from condemnation and need not fear everlasting punishment. That does not prevent our sins from having consequences in this life, however. Think through the ramifications of the vows you take.

Questions to Consider

  • How often do you agree to something before thinking it through?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 291

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Day 291

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 1.

A lawful Oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in Truth, Righteousness, and Judgment, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth;…”

Scripture Lookup

Exodus 20:7

Deuteronomy 10:20

Jeremiah 4:2

Reflection

A lawful oath is a part of religious worship…

Whoa.

Have you ever thought about that before? That when you make a solemn promise that invokes God you are participating in an act of religious worship? For that is what you are doing. While not praising God or praying to Him, you are asking God to stand as witness to the veracity of what you promise.

When you make an oath, you are stating that what you are promising to do you will do. The oath is a surety against the possibility that you are lying. And you are stating this in front of God Himself. It’s all a rather frightening scenario. Perhaps it should be avoided altogether? The Quakers thought so. They refused to take oaths in court, and due to this were penalized in England through “An Act for preventing the Mischeifs and Dangers that may arise by certaine Persons called Quakers and others refusing to take lawfull Oaths.”, enacted in 1662.

Were Quakers correct in their understanding? Should oaths not be taken? Scripture tells us that the Quakers were misguided. The Bible does not forbid all oath-taking, but rather gives directives for lawful oaths. While  a serious matter, it is not a sin to take an oath before God. On the contrary, it is an act of religious worship.

 

Questions to Consider

  • Have you thought through whether oaths are lawful or not?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 290

Day 290

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 8.

“…but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 12:1-13

Reflection

Hearing about all the activities to be abstained from on the Sabbath, we might be left asking, “So what do we do on that day?” Images come to mind of sitting around, afraid to twiddle our fingers lest it be constituted as work. Yet there is plenty to be done on Sundays! There are three categories of “works” that we are to engage in on the Lord’s Day: works of piety, works of necessity, and works of mercy.

Since the Sabbath is a day set apart for the worship of God, it is a given that we are to engage in worship on that day. Gathering with our local church body to praise our Savior, to partake in the means of grace, and to encourage one another with edifying speech is proper activity for Sundays. Not only do we attend services, but it is also a time for private devotions as well. Have trouble fitting in private worship during the week? The Lord’s Day is a perfect opportunity to have that quiet time to focus on Him.

Works of necessity are also lawful on the Sabbath. While observing the Lord’s Day does involve a measure of self-denial, it is not meant to be done so ascetically: “…God created the Sabbath to be a blessed day for all men, i.e., a day of refreshment and blessing” (Robert Martin, The Christian Sabbath.) Rather than commanding observance of a day that is austere and harsh, our Lord allows works that are indispensable to our daily living. We do not have to starve ourselves that day, or walk uphill in the snow (both ways!) to service. Doing what is needful is allowed.

Mercy is also a work that is assuredly allowed on the Sabbath. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).  To offer prayers and praise unto God, but to disobey His command to love our neighbor is to not honor the Lord of the Sabbath. As those who have been shown mercy by Christ, it is fitting that we perform acts of mercy. Sunday is not an exception in this case. Caring for the sick and poor, healing when we have the ability to do so, sharing the Gospel with those who are perishing – all are acts that are acceptable on that day.

If we strive to keep the Sabbath as a way to honor God, we will find there is much to be done. Rather than being a day of deprivation, it will be a restful realignment with His will. May we pray that through the Spirit we will be enabled to keep the Sabbath holy.

Questions to Consider

  • Is there anything you don’t do on Sundays that you could start doing?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 289

Day 289

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 8.

The Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all day, from their own works, words, and thoughts, about their worldly employment, and recreations,…”

Scripture Lookup

Isaiah 58:13

Nehemiah 13:15-22

Reflection

Vacations take planning. Before we can relax, we have to make sure that things are taken care of: what are we going to eat? Where will we stay? Who will watch the pets while we’re away? Much like planning for a trip away, we also have to plan beforehand in order to observe the Sabbath. To do so, we prepare our hearts and get our affairs in order. Anticipating being away from the everyday cares we possess, we pray that we will not be distracted from keeping the day holy. Any errand that can be done beforehand is taken care of, leaving us free on Sundays to refrain from the things of this world and focus on worshiping our God.

When we observe the Lord’s Day, the ordinary work of the week is put on hold. Paying that bill, buying the week’s groceries, writing that paper – put them all on the waiting list for the next day. Even those things that we can freely enjoy the rest of the week are paused. Time to read that bestselling novel or watch the latest movie? Not happening on the day devoted to God. Sunday is not Saturday redux.

Observing the Christian Sabbath is a hard practice in our modern culture. We seem to live in one of two extremes: either we are wedded to our work, or monogamous to our “me-time.” The Sabbath pushes them off the table altogether and directs us to focus solely on God. Resting from our work, we are demonstrating our reliance on God to provide all of our needs. Ceasing from our own pleasures, we demonstrate the supremacy of God over anything else we do on this earth. Keeping the sabbath holy is not something anyone can do perfectly, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we may strive to keep it nonetheless. As Christians, let us learn to call the sabbath a delight.

Questions to Consider

  • Is there anything you currently do on Sundays that you should cease?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 288

Day 288

Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day.

Chapter 22, Paragraph 7.

“…which from the beginning of the World to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week which is called the Lord’s day; and is to be continued to the end of the World, as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 16:1,2

Acts 20:7

Revelation 1:10

Reflection

 

Until Christ came, the weekly day of rest came at the end of the week. It was a reminder of God’s rest after the work of creation, a time when God called creation “very good.” The entrance of sin broke the peace of that first creation, and humanity experienced the effects of the curse in their toil. Work was burdensome! After working for six days, the Israelites could look forward to a day without labor, a day wholly reserved for the worship of God. The Sabbath pointed toward the future day when they would no longer have to groan under the weight of the ceremonial laws and would be redeemed from their sin.

As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus has the power and authority to determine how His command is to be obeyed. Christ’s resurrection was so momentous that it shifted the order of time itself.  With His resurrection, the benefits of Christ’s mediatorial work were more freely realized. He became the curse and sacrifice for His people, and death no longer held Him. Because His work was finished, Christians no longer looked forward to the end of the week for the day of rest. Instead, the first day of the week was the holy sabbath, commemorating Christ’s finished work of redemption.

As Christians, we have received numerous blessings through Christ. We are forgiven and accepted as righteous before God due to Christ’s obedience imputed to us. We are adopted as sons of God and enabled to call Him “Abba”. The Holy Spirit works in us to do and to will His good pleasure. There is much to be thankful for, and the preeminence of the Lord’s Day in our week demonstrates that. Yet we still have the remaining corruption of sin dwelling in us, and our inheritance of everlasting life will not be fully enjoyed until this life is over. Although our Sabbath is first and foremost in our week, we still work the other six days. Our toil is sweetened, however, by living in light of the rest Christ has procured for us, and looking to the ultimate rest that is to come.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you consider Sunday to be, as the hymn says, the “day of all the week the best”?