Have you ever read numbers chapter 30. I’m sure I’ve read it more than once, but today it really jumped out at me, in part because I recently talked with a friend on this subject. It puts a lot of responsibility on a man.
A man is always bound by his oath/vow/word. Whatever he says he must do. On more than one occassion in scripture we see rash promises, made by God’s people, that He requires them to fulfill. (The Israelites covenant with a people group in the Promised Land that they were supposed to destroy. Jephtah made a vow to sacrifice the first thing he saw upon returning home if God would give him victory in battle. The first thing he saw was his daughter. He fulfilled his vow.)
If a vow is not fulfilled, it is sin. A woman is bound by her word as well, but with a couple of exceptions. If the woman’s father or husband, which ever she is under the authority of, hears about her vow and forbids it, then she is no longer bound by it. But, if he hears and remains silent then she is still bound to her word. If he hears and remains silent at the time, but later forbids it, then he is the one held guilty. But if he does not forbid it and she does not fulfill her word then she is the one who is guilty. A single female who is under no mans authority is held to the same standard as a man. A man is responsible for his family, to the point of being able to retract the rash or emotional declarations made by his wife and children. He can also take their guilt on himself if he does not override their promises right away, but waits until later. He is responsible to govern both himself and his family.
That is a lot of responsibility. As a husband and a father, it places a lot on me to be aware and active as the head of my household. It is also a picture for us of the relationship that we have with God.
God is pictured both as a father and as a bridegroom to Israel and the Church. What Christ did on the cross is what is pictured here. He took upon Himself the guilt that we should have had to carry and He paid the price for that guilt.