Every one of us have, at some point, made a promise or some commitment we have signed a contract or entered into an agreement to identify our willingness to do what we said we will do. Marriage, Rental agreement, Cellphone contract, even as simple as signing up to bring the cookies for the Valentines luncheon. We are constantly entering into agreements, it’s a part of being a member of society but how good are we in keeping them, and what does God have to say on the matter?
The book of Numbers relates the events of the nation of Israel as they are about to take possession of Canaan, the Promised land. Just before they crossed the Jordon River two and a half tribes out of the twelve decide they want to claim the land where the nation is encamped. Now this is a big problem – without their numbers the conquest of Canaan would be virtually impossible. So an agreement is made between them that they will settle the land there, get their families situated and then go with the rest of the nation to conquer the rest of the land. In addition they promised to not return to their own land until after the everyone is also able to have land of their own.
Moses, God’s spokesman, agreed to the plan and said,
If you will do this, … then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession. But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:20-23
This is a warning of expected consequences in the case of broken promises. Should the contract be broken, then they would be declared sinners against not only the people of God but God himself. And their sin would “find them out”, that is to say that it would follow them and be a curse to them.
Is sin any less evil today? Can we ignore commitments just because we do not like to carry out our promised agreements, because it is to difficult to do so, or because it would be too big of an inconvenience? The Prophet Samuel answers this way – “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen is better than the fat of rams.”- 1 Samuel 15:22.
As we enter into the month that is ahead I invite you to consider your commitments to your family, friends, place of work, country of residence and to your God. Meditate on the words of the Psalmist who prayed in Psalm 19:13 – Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.