Numbers 30 - Vows
A vow was a promise not to DO something. A pledge/oath was a promise to NOT DO something. This chapter covers the importance of making personal vows and when women can be released from them.
Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words. When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6)
The Midianites had led Israel into sin (25:16-18). You might recall that the Israelite men engaged in sexual relations with Moabite women as this was part of Canaanite fertility rites (Deuteronomy 23:17-18; 1 Kings 14:22-24; Numbers 25:2) that eventually led the Israelites into the worship of Baal and a man bringing a Midianite woman into his family and before Moses. The Midianites were closely associated with the Moabites, but the Moabites were kinsman to the Israelites through Lot. Midianites were related to Moses through marriage to Zipporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian, not kinsman.
There is no mention of an attack on the Moabites here even though they were involved with the worship of Baal Peor too. They were not allowed to wage war against their kinsman. The incident of Baal Peor is mentioned in Deuteronomy 4:3-4; Psalm 106:26-29; Hosea 9:10, and 1 Corinthians 10:8.
This "holy war" was led by the LORD Himself with the goal of total annihilation and taking of materials for Him. The total annihilation included every Midianite soldier, the five kings, and Balaam the prophet (Numbers 22-24), but it did not include the women, children, and animals (31:9) until Moses reasoned that the women were just as responsible for the sin at Baal Peor. So, the non-virgin women and boys were killed.
I made a silly vow when I was 21 years old that I struggled with fulfilling because it was a very impulsive vow! It kept me bound up in legalism for a long time. I should have heeded these words of Jesus:
Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, "You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord." But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, "Yes," yes or "No," no; anything beyond these is of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)
Lord, let our yes be yes and our no be no. Amen.