Matthew 5:33 ESV
Matthew 5:34-37 ESV
Exodus 20:7 ESV
Leviticus 19:12 ESV
Revelation 22:13 ESV
Dancing around the truth by making excuses at my house was not acceptable. Ever.
I’m not sure why, but I feel like I hit the jackpot with my kids. One of my kids (who shall remain nameless) took telling the whole truth as a challenge. Short and sweet always “yes” or “no”. Truth.
Even at three years old my child would look me square in the eye and say, “Yes, I did it.”
He cut to the chase.
It’s really like it was a challenge.
As an adult that child exponentially owned it and that was a very good thing because of the career choice that child made.
What I’m not sure about is if that attitude set the stage for my other children or if they came to the same conclusion on their own. I do know that in their own way each child owned it. Not all of them considered telling the truth to be a challenge, but they did clearly say yes or no regardless of the consequences.
I consider that to be a huge blessing.
In Matthew 5:33 Jesus taught, “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’”
Jesus was telling his audience on the mount to let their yes be yes and their no be no.
In Matthew 5:34-37 we are also told, “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
The statements Jesus made at that time were focused on the Pharisees who were famous for taking an oath using flowery sounding big words. The Pharisees were certainly highly educated and they had learned how to use their big words to make them sound like they were highly educated.
They didn’t expect Jesus to show up and burst their bubble.
When Jesus told the crowd that day they were not to swear falsely using the name of God when giving a long speech that basically said nothing and went no where, I would imagine the common people in the crowd knew exactly who Jesus was describing.
Word of His critical comments would have spread pretty fast.
Jesus knew that Moses spoke similar words in Exodus 20:7 when he wrote, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Moses knew making a promise you don’t intend to keep while you use God’s name was unacceptable.
Moses told the children of Israel to speak clearly and make yes a yes. He told them not to use God’s name with their words.
A very similar subject was written about by Moses in Leviticus.
Leviticus is a unique book written for the priests from the tribe of Levi. Because of the corruption of the tribes of Israel God made a covenant with them and the priesthood was established (Tribe of Levi) by God. Through sacrifices God paved the way to forgiveness.
“The overall message of Leviticus is sanctification. The book communicates that receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance should be followed by holy living and spiritual growth. Now that Israel had been redeemed by God, they were to be purified into a people worthy of their God.” (https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-pentateuch/leviticus)
Moses wrote in Leviticus 19:12, “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”
Moses was giving them a guide to live by. Don’t swear by God’s name. I am the Lord God.
Somewhere along the line for some reason, the Pharisees missed that memo in Leviticus. Or, they skipped class that day. The message in Leviticus was clear.
According to J.J. Packer on the subject in Matthew 5:33-37, “Jesus is referring to the ceremonious way in which Jews, particularly the Pharisaic types, took oaths. It was one of the things in the culture of the time. Jesus was nailing it as an undesirable procedure because it was all about pulling the wool over other people's eyes. That is, people swore these impressive sounding oaths, and the whole situation they were creating thereby was phony. What were the oaths anyway? They were forms of words designed to impress.” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/bible-answers/theology/oaths.html)
In other words, Jesus wasn’t impressed with their flowery words.
Jesus knew a hypocrite when He heard a hypocrite and He called them out.
Since the sermon on the Mount has been referred to as Jesus’ first sermon. That means right out of the gate He had his spotlight on the Pharisees. I’m not sure how long it took for the Pharisees to hear about their ‘group’ being criticized by this man Jesus but I’m sure they were outraged.
For one thing, how dare he because he wasn’t educated like they were educated. I mean seriously, who DOES He think He is?
Well, actually He IS “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)
Spiritual Practice: Yes and No
Practice making your yes a yes and your no a no…no flowery words are needed.
In God, Deborah