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When we say “yes” to the Lord’s calling and command, sometimes the Lord requires we keep a vow or promise. This can be for a short season of time or for the rest of our lives. John the Baptist was required by the Lord to keep a series of vows or promises called a Nazarite Vow. The vows are also mentioned in Numbers 6.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:15-17
Many have been required to make and keep the Nazarite Vows… even Christians. Only the Lord can call someone to be a Nazarite from birth. This was John the Baptist’s calling. The same was true for Samson and Samuel.
The Lord may ask or require many different things from us in certain seasons of our life. This is especially true in the areas of prayer, study, preaching, teaching, witnessing, etc. The Lord is not trying to be difficult or overbearing. He knows what we all know… defilement is a very important issue for the man and woman God desires to use. While God’s calling is irrevocable, the anointing which empowers that gift/calling is not. When we defile ourselves, we limit God’s work. If we allow sin to go unchecked, it will not only destroy us personally, but will bring harm to the work of the Lord.
Making vows and promises will not prevent any of us from defiling ourselves. Samson is a great example. He loved many women and it became his downfall. Vows, promises, and convictions do help us to maintain focus and be reminded of our committment to God.
There was an old movie called “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” This movie was about as stupid as stupid can get, but it had a point. It was about a bush tribe that lived in the Kalahari Desert. They had no earthly possessions to speak of and had never seen or heard from anyone outside their community. They were happy, content, and self-sufficient. Life rolled on in their little village, just as it had for hundreds of years.
One day a bush plane flew overhead (which they mistook for a god’s tummy rumbling) and the pilot threw an empty Coca Cola bottle out of the aircraft. It landed in the middle of the village.
Immediately, the bush people thought this must be a gift from the gods. They had never seen anything like the bottle. Sure enough, they found good uses for it. They discovered it could make music, it could effectively help them grind grain, and it pulverized pulp. But this new “possession” brought other things too … envy, anger, covetousness, and violence. They learned to hurt each other by using the bottle. They soon named the bottle “The Evil Thing.” The Evil Thing threatened to destroy their whole way of life. The movie ends with the tribal leader going on a journey to the ends of the earth to get rid of the bottle.
Does all this sound crazy? How could something so ambiguous as a coke bottle practically destroy a whole tribe’s existence? Many times it is not the things you know about and are ready to face which cause you to stumble. It is the things you don’t know about which catch you unaware that cause you the most difficulties in life. In fact, some trials and tribulations will never make sense to any of us. Making vows and keeping promises keeps us grounded in our commitments to God. They are constant reminders and never allow us stray too far off God’s path for our life. Can you imagine never cutting your hair or beard your whole life. Each day you wake up and look in mirror and do not recognize yourself. Allow your convictions to be the road signs and guard rails which keep you moving forward on the path of life.