248 – Numbers 30 – blaharkitga
Human beings, by design, are relational thinkers. I’ll try to explain what I mean, but I fear I’m headed for a philosophical rabbit hole. What I mean is every thought we think is based on, or related to something else we know. You and I cannot think thoughts that are devoid of at least one other thing we know. Let’s see if I can illustrate what I’m talking about. Let’s say there exists in our universe something called a “blaharkitga”. You and I have no capacity to think about a blaharkitga unless we related it to something else we know. Beyond asking, “what is a blaharkitga?” we can’t even ask questions about it unless we related it to something else we know. We may ask, “is a blaharkitga big or small?” We of course understand the concept of size and we immediately try to relate these concepts to this unknown thing.
Beyond being relational thinkers, we are experiential thinkers. I understand things in the context of what I have previously experienced. For example, if I have never experienced temperature you would not be able to accurately explain the concept of hot to me.
Culturally foreign concepts have elements of both relation and experience for us. When we read about the “vow” in Numbers chapter 30 we immediately think about it in light of other things or concepts we can relate to or have experienced. If we haven’t experienced a particular cultural concept, or have nothing to relate it to we may reach wrong conclusions about it. Additionally, we may marginalize the concept by thinking, “if I can’t relate to it, it must not be important to me”.
Though we have some understanding of a vow, I believe our comprehension is limited because it is not a normal practice in our culture. The vow in Numbers 30 is defined as a person making a promise to give Yahweh something if Yahweh will do something for that individual. That vow (promise) is binding on the individual.
Numbers 30:2 (LEB)
2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
If you read on you’ll notice there is no escape clause for a man that makes a vow.
Numbers 30:3-4 (LEB)
3 “If a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and she binds a pledge on herself in her father’s house in your childhood,
4 but if her father hears her vow or her pledge that she bound on herself….
But as the above verses indicate, this chapter does provide escape clauses for women who are still in their father’s house, married women, and widowed women.
Why the difference between men and women? It’s actually a matter of authority. The woman in her father’s house is under his authority, and the married woman is under the authority of the husband. In today’s culture, we may grant that a woman still in her father’s house is under his authority, but most of our society rejects the notion that a married woman is under her husband’s authority.
We must realize our relationally and experientially different understanding of authority can skew how we understand this passage describing the vow. It is sad to me that we reject Yahweh’s design for our homes and their authority structure based on what is culturally acceptable. I think it’s backward. I think we should allow the word of God to inform our cultural structures.
Ephesians chapter 5 talks about God’s design for each role in a family starting with children, then wives, and finally husbands. The modern-day believer is so busy rejecting the idea that women should be submitting to their husbands that they totally miss the truth God is communicating through the words of the apostle Paul!
Look at Paul’s summary statement in Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:32-33 (LEB)
32 (This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.)
33 Only you also, each one of you, must thus love his own wife as himself, and the wife ⌊must respect⌋ her husband.
God’s design for the family is so it reflects His relationship to His Church.
But back to the vow for a moment. Why is Numbers 30 about the vow even in the Bible? Throughout the scripture, both Old and New Testaments Yahweh instructs us how important and impactful are our words. But again, why? I believe it is because He wants us to relationally and experientially understand how important and impactful is His word!
Titus 1:2 (NKJV)
2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
God has so lovingly and graciously given us His word. Let’s honor Him by allowing His word to work in our lives. Let’s submit to His designs and enjoy the benefits of walking with Him in a pleasing way.