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The Apostle James in James 1:8 speaks of the double minded man being unstable in all his ways. The Didache translated as “Teaching,” a reference to the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, which is dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The Didache 2:4-5 states “You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed.” Both James and the author of the Didache speak of our not being unstable in all our ways, but to be single minded having the motivation to do (to live) what we claim to believe by faith. This why it is said, our speech should not be false nor empty but filled with deed. In this week’s Torah portion, Bilam acted contrary to God’s Word, and sought riches over remaining in God’s truth. He seemed to follow in this way of double mindedness and chose to curse Israel. Balak was pleading with Bilam to curse these people that came out of Egypt. These Hebrews of ancient times, as we see here in the Torah, were no different than we are today. Often in moments of crisis we will plead with God to make a vow with Him, often unthinkingly and rashly saying “Oh, Lord, I will go to church (or synagogue) every week,” or “I promise never to use swear words again,” or “I’ll never ask you for anything ever again.” We have all done this and you can probably recall some big ones that you’ve either heard or actually uttered yourself. The problem is if we are going against God’s will, all the pleading in our lives will not change the situation. The point of a vow is according to Bamidbar / Numbers 30:2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (NASB) According to these Scriptures, the making of an oath or a vow in the name of the Lord is a risky business. The Lord warns us not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God” (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:12). This is also the meaning of the commandment “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Shemot / Exodus 20:7). The Lord God of Israel states if a person takes His name in vain, He will not leave that person unpunished. This is also why Yeshua warned His disciples against needlessly taking oaths (Matthew 5:33-7 and 23:16–22). In ancient times, when the nations would make oaths or vows, they were done so in the names of the gods. The idea was that if the person taking the oath proved false, the gods would deal with him. The Scriptures warn us not to make oaths in the names of other gods (see Shemot / Exodus 20:13). Instead, if one must make a vow or an oath, he should “fear only the LORD … and swear by His name” (see Bamidbar / Numbers 5:21). We read according to the Scriptures when a person in ancient days wanted to make a vow or an oath, he would say something like, “May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not do such and such.” Or he might say, “As surely as the LORD lives, I will do such and such.” These things illustrated for us the significance of having conversations with the Lord in heaven…

 

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