TEXT: Genesis 28:20-22
INTRODUCTION: Vow - An earnest promise to perform a specified act or behave in a certain manner, especially a solemn promise to live and act in accordance with the rules of a religious order:
Hebrew Defined as a religious undertaking, either positive, to do something, or negative, to abstain from doing a certain thing.
In Genesis 35 we find God telling Jacob to go to Bethel and build an altar because the vow he had made in chapter 28. Jacob had made a vow but he seems to have forgotten about it, and God is now calling him to fulfill it. It was made as he was fleeing the wrath of Esau (for Jacob had stolen Esau's blessing from their father Isaac) Leaving Beersheba, he headed toward Haran On the way, he stopped at what is now called Bethel - Geness 28:10-15 There he had a dream, in which he saw what we commonly call "Jacob's Ladder" (angels ascending and descending on a ladder between heaven and earth) In this dream, God promises to be with him and safely return him to his home. The dream prompted Jacob to make his vow - Genesis 28:20
. To make the LORD his God if God carries out His promise
. To sanctify the stone upon which his head had rested and which he has set up as a pillar
. To give God a tenth of all that God will give him
For the next twenty years, Jacob dwells in Haran As God promised, He was with Jacob Jacob prospered both in family, and in gaining wealth - Genesis 29-30 Upon Jacob's return, God kept him safe...
. From Laban, who was pursuing him - Gen 31
. From Esau, who was coming to meet him - Gen 32-33
It appears that Jacob had forgotten his vow, and for this reason God commands him to return to Bethel - Genesis 35:1
Vow of Jephthah in Judges 11:30-31
I. GOD EXPECTS US TO KEEP THE VOWS WE MAKE
A. He does not take vows lightly, and neither should we -
Ecclessiates. 5:2‑5 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
B. So let's be sure to keep any covenant or vow that we make with God; for example...
1. The "vow" we made when we became Christians
2. To turn from sin, and to follow Christ with all our heart...are we faithfully keeping this "vow"?
II. WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN GOD HAS FULFILLED HIS SIDE OF THEM...
A. We saw where God fulfilled His side, but Jacob had not
B. This "forgetfulness" seems to occur most often when vows are made in times of trouble
1. Like those made in a foxhole
2. Or those made in an airplane during extreme air turbulence or mechanical problems
As the wealthy oil tycoon lay on his deathbed, his pastor talked of God's healing power. “Pastor," he gasped, “if God heals me, I'll give the church a million dollars." Miraculously, the man revived and within a few short weeks was out of the hospital. One day, several months later, he and the pastor chatted on the sidewalk in front of a hardware store. "You know,” the pastor said, "when you were in the hospital dying, you promised to give the church a million dollars if you got well. We haven't got it yet." "Did I say that?” the tycoon asked. "I guess that goes to show how sick I really was!"
3. Or those made in an effort to solve marital problems
C. But such vows are just as binding as those made upon careful reflection!
III. WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WELL...
A. In the case of Jacob...
1. He had a nice family
2. He had become extremely wealthy
3. He had settled down in his home country
B. The same is often true of many Christians...
1. Many obey the gospel at times in their lives when they are troubled
2. But later, especially if they enjoy financial security, they forget their commitment to God and Christ
C. But consider God's warning to Israel against forgetfulness after they entered the "promised land" - Deutronomy 8:11-20
IV. WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN WE HAVE ALLOWED OURSELVES TO BE INFLUENCED BY THE WORLD...
A. Note that Jacob's family had accepted the foreign gods of the people around them - Gen 35:2
B. In similar fashion, many people do not live up to the vow they made when they became Christians
2 Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
1. Many New Christians
a) Zealous at first
b) But when influenced by others...they often lose interest in spiritual matters
(1) Influenced by materialism
(2) TV Programs
(3) Immorality of our society
(1) Popular music
(2) Humanistic teaching in the schools
2. They often lose interest in spiritual matters
3. But again, this is no excuse for "forgotten vows"
V. IF WE HAVE FORGOTTEN OUR VOWS, WE NEED TO GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING...
A. We noticed that Jacob was told to go back to Bethel
B. In a similar way, Jesus told the church at Ephesus to go back to the beginning - Revelation 2:4-5
1. They had left their "first love"
2. They were told to "remember... from where you have fallen"
3. And to "repent and do the first works"
C. For Christians who have left their "first love", they too need to "do the first works" (the fundamentals, such as Bible study, prayer, etc.)
VI. WHEN WE FULFILL OUR FORGOTTEN VOWS, THERE ARE RENEWED BLESSINGS!
A. When Jacob fulfilled his vow, God appeared to him and renewed the promises that had been made to Abraham and Isaac - Genesis 35: 9-15
B. So it can be with us!
1. It may be that we have forgotten the original commitment we made when we first obeyed the gospel of Christ
2. But if we will just return to Christ...
a) In full repentance and confession
b) And fulfill our vow of service and devotion to Him
c) ... all the spiritual blessings that He has to offer can be ours again! –
d) He will forgive and restore us to proper fellowship with Him
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Are you a Christian, but not living the dedicated and committed life that God expects? Do you have any forgotten vows? Then, like Jacob, you have forgotten your vow... you need to come back to the Lord in full repentance. The blessings of heaven await you if you do!
If you are not yet a Christian, these same blessings can be yours if you will only accept the gospel of Jesus Christ -