Our Words, Our Witness By Joseph Shulam July 16, 2020
We are reading a double portion of the Torah and the prophets on this next Shabbat! We are reading Matot (Numbers 30:1-32:42) and Masei (Numbers 33:1-36:13). From the prophets we are reading from Jeremiah 1:1-3:4. From the New Testament we read this Shabbat from Philippians 3;12-16, and from James (Jacob) 4:1-12.
The agenda of Numbers 30 is the legal force of promises and vows and binding obligations undertaken under oath. This issue is universal, and has importance for all ages and cultures.
Today the issue has doubled in importance because words are being written and recorded by audio and video and broadcast around the globe in seconds. There are records of what we speak and of what we do of which we are even unaware. Big Brother has us bugged at all times and in any location!
We might not like it but we can’t stop it as long as we continue to use our convenient and accessible devices – our smart phones, iPads, computers… so we must be doubly alert and more careful of what we say especially as disciples of Yeshua. Here is what Yeshua has to say concerning this issue:
“But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:34-37 [NKJV]
It is interesting that James (Jacob) in his letter repeats the teaching of Yeshua:
“Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. 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 5:9-12 [NKJV]
Yeshua and James (Jacob) are instructing us, Yeshua’s disciples, to have a firm word, a promise and an honest intent to keep and do whatever it is that was promised or agreed upon between the parties. It is always one of the hardest thing for me, and for others in Jerusalem to have some merchant in town who knows that we are believers in Yeshua, and he tells us that so and so, a known Jewish believer in Yeshua, has cheated him and made promises without any intention of keeping them.
Even much more serious are cases where some Christian missionary has taken a product from the shop with the promise to return it the next day after he shows it to his wife. Months later the Christian has not returned the product, has not answered his phone, has not kept his promise.
We see that both the Torah and our Lord Yeshua and James his brother all say the same thing – if you make a promise or take a vow or take an oath the Lord Himself obligates you to keep it and if you don’t keep it – it becomes a very serious sin that no one can absolve you of under normal circumstances.
Now here comes that not politically correct part of the Torah and I am happy that the Torah is witnessing against the politically correct cult that is ruling the culture and the streets of our modern Godless towns without pity.
How lucky are our women according to the Torah? Women can make a promise and even take an oath or make a vow, but if they have a father that is living or a husband, they can free their women, daughters and wives, from their vows and oaths and self-imposed binding obligation.
How wonderful and wise is our God who gave us the Torah and the Prophets and sent His only begotten Son to save us and has given our women, the privilege of having their vows and oaths and self-imposed binding obligations annulled. The Lord who designed us and who has provided us with a companion for life, knows our strengths and our weaknesses and makes provision to uncomplicate our lives as much as possible.
I believe in equality and would like to have equality with women if only for this privilege that women have received from the almighty God that their promises and vows and self-imposed obligations can be annulled by their father or their husband.
The last thing that I want to say is that we should all see how serious and what grave consequences our promises and words can have on us personally and upon our families and communities and also reflect upon our communities and our Lord.
The simplest thing is the best for us. Let those in our town and those with whom we do business and commerce know that our “yes” is “yes”, and our “no” is “no!” Let us all who claim to be disciples of Yeshua know that our words are a part of our witness and when our words put us to shame, they put Yeshua our Lord to shame as well.