There are some considerable numbers of vows in the Bible that can be classified as dedicational vows. Dedicational vow generally is an unforced and unwritten spiritual commitment to separate oneself unto God and deliberate implementation of some specific self-denial activities from the widely acceptable normal spectrum of worldly lifestyle before God for the purpose consecration unto holiness. Some believers vow before God for the purpose of separating of self unto God in holiness. An example of this type of vow was the decision of Daniel and his brethren in the service of the Babylonian king. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank …” (Daniel 1:8) Before this particular vow was mentioned in the Scripture, there was an established Nazarite vow that God commanded Moses to be established and administered among the Israelites in a specific manner in the process of separating self unto the Lord.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no rasor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.” (Numbers 6:1-8)
The prominent key word in the scripture passage above is ‘separation.’ This is suggesting a deliberate process of purposeful self-denial and setting oneself apart from the normal processes of living, principally to become a vessel unto honor in the hand of God in order that we may attain a higher level of spiritual calling. The idea of separating oneself unto the Lord simply means that we should walk consistently in holiness and righteousness in the course of our Christian walking with the Lord. The practical example of this experience is the metamorphosis changes of a butterfly insect. At a developmental stage of this insect, the crawling caterpillar attached itself at the back of leaf one day, stopped eating leaves and separated itself for some days in the cocoon. While in the cocoon, the insect became transformed from crawling leaf-eating caterpillar to a mature nectar sucking flying butterfly. If a believer do not separate himself from the world of flesh and spiritually consecrate self unto the Lord, it is certain that he cannot fully attain the maturity purposes of his salvation. Jesus Christ attested in His prayer for the disciples that “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:16-17)
The scary part of the Nazarite vows is that, if this dedicated vow is broken, it is not repairable. You have to start a brand-new vow process all over. First, failure to complete a vow as a result of defilement is a sin, secondly, the precious period of sacrificial separation and the accompanied self-denial procedures and processes is wasted. Before the beginning of the new processes, you have to atone for the sin you have committed. “And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day. And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled. (Numbers 6:11-12) You may be wondering why there is no repair to the defiled vows and no recovery of the numbers of days of separation a vow is defiled vows. This is what the Lord said, “If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but he then trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteous works will be remembered; he will die because of the iniquity he has committed.” (Ezekiel 33:13)
Other form of vow in the Bible is transactional in nature. The idea of transaction here is suggesting that the person involved separated himself/herself in prayer unto God with the heart of expectation to receive an answer to their prayerful heart desires, after which the person will make offering unto God in appreciation of the fulfilled heart desires. The common denominator in every vow is ‘separation.’ There was a period of separation of oneself unto the Lord in prayer during the vow of Jephthah and Hannah. With their hearts of integrity, they made an unwritten spiritual commitment to the Lord in their vows. The mercy of God prevailed, and their prayerful heart desires were met. God did His own divine part, the party to the vow upon whom the graciousness of God was manifested must do their own. The vow is only completed when the committed object of the vow is honored in terms of the fulfilment of special promise, service or offering. “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. (Judge 11:30-31) When Jephthah returned from the victorious war campaign against the Ammonites, his only daughter came out of his door to meet him. Painfully he fulfilled his vow and offered her up as a burnt offering according to his vow. He said, “… I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.” (Judge 11:35) Jephthah, a man of integrity, honored his vow. He did not go back from it. He offered his only daughter according to the terms of the vow.
Hannah separated herself unto the Lord with fast and prayer in Shiloh, “and she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.” (I Samuel 1:11) The Lord answered the prayer of Hannah. She came back to Shiloh with heart of thanksgiving, and she fulfilled her vows and she said, “Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.” (1 Samuel 1:26-28) Think of the high cost of the fulfillment of this vow. Think of the bond between a woman and her child, especially, a woman who had been trusting God for a child, she now had the child, but she parted the child unto the Lord God in the Temple in fulfillment of her vow.
Jephthah who was a son of a harlot (Judges 11:1) made a vow before God and He honored his vow and fulfilled it. Hannah made a vow and also fulfilled it. The two characters above fulfilled and completed their vows with the priceless cost of what is very dear and precious to them. In any place you find yourself and in any capacity you are serving in the vineyard of God, it did not happen by accident. Whether you are member of choir or usher, your vow unto the Lord God established your service and the vow unto the Lord is upon your head for your services in God’s temple. Whether you are part of the prayer warrior ministry or housekeepers in the house of the Lord, you belong to God through your unwritten vow. Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded us and say, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.” (John 15:16 AMP) Perhaps you had forgotten that you made an unforced commitment with your heart of integrity before God to be faithful and loyal to the course of the gospel in your evangelism ministry vow. Your commitment to be a shepherd to the flocks of God under your watch and minister to them is a vow. You are ordained in the name of God, and by the virtue of your vows, you are separated from the ideologies of this defiling world. Samson and Samuel had the Nazarite vows on their heads. Samson failed woefully in his ministry, but Samuel excelled in his. The reason for the ruinous ministry of Samson was the defilement of his vow. He did not totally separate himself unto the Lord according to the tenet of his vow because of his lust for women. (Judges 13 and 14) The secret of the successful ministry of Samuel was his consistency and completion of his vow in the way he totally dedicated himself to the course of the ministry. If you want to be successful in your ministry, you must consistently separate yourself unto God in righteousness and holiness. You must not incorporate any worldly ideologies into the spiritual activities of the household of faith. You must not allow an unforgiving spirit and an unquenchable anger to defile your ministry. The Scripture asked, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3-5) We all need to examine our heart of integrity and reevaluate the virtuousness of our vows before God. “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5) Remember that anointing of the Holy Spirit always come upon people with pure hearts to fulfill their purposeful spiritual heart desires in their vows.
Prayer: Oh Lord, I plead for Your divine empowerment and a heart of integrity to faithfully commit and separate myself unto You in righteousness and holiness in the course of my journey with you in my Christian life in Jesus name, Amen.