A Sworn Oath

by Lester Young

It’s a shame to say it, but most of us don’t have much of a clue just what a “sworn oath” is really all about. Oh, we could ‘clinically’ define it well enough, but what it really means at the deepest levels has largely been lost to our society today. I honestly don’t think we’re any more than three generations removed from this saying still having real relevance: “A man’s word is his bond.” Yet, today, the average ‘contract’ is esteemed to be about as worthless as the paper it’s printed on – and is it any wonder, when the first page of ‘covenants’ (promises) is quickly followed by eight- to ten pages of why and under what circumstances “we won’t do what we just promised you we would” on Page 1.

Of course, that’s not to imply that there were never any instances of contract-breaking back in the day – even waaayyy back in the day. We can get a sense of this by pondering Abram’s question after God told him that he was going to see to it that Abram inherited a bunch of land. Abram asked God (Genesis 15:8, NLT), “Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I’ll actually possess it (i.e., how can I know You’ll really give it to me)?”

Now, this was God that Abram was questioning, mind you – God, Who had already appeared to him once! (Genesis 12:7) But, appearances or not, it’s obvious that Abram still wasn’t fully convinced of God’s veracity, even though he had already committed to following Him around the countryside (Genesis 12:1, 4). Why? Probably because in his day he was used to dealing with untrustworthy people whose promises were no better than many of those today.

I’m really glad God wasn’t insulted. He’s bigger than that. Given the magnitude of the promise, God understood the tussle Abram’s mind would put up – especially in light of the circumstances into which that promise was made: that is, no natural reason to believe or even hope that any such thing could ever happen. So, in deference to that fact, God put things in a perspective that would be easy for Abram to firmly grasp hold of. He cut a blood covenant with him.

Now, as far as God being God and his Word being Truth, the LORD’s swearing by a covenant added no additional weight to anything at all (Numbers 23:19; John 17:17, Hebrews 6:18). In other words, as soon as God initially said it, it was as true and trustworthy as it was ever going to be. The added oath was for Abram’s benefit, so that he could anchor his mind on something he fully understood the implications of: the blood covenant (Hebrews 6:16-19).

You see, Abram was well aware what a blood covenant meant. He knew it was something that, once performed, could not be annulled, run away from or disregarded. The blood covenant signified that the parties thereto were giving themselves fully to each other in the promises they were making, under penalty of death. In essence, they were saying, “May my life be accursed as this animal’s, whose shed blood I’m walking through, if I don’t do what I’ve promised I’ll do” (Jeremiah 34:18-20). And, they did so while calling upon a higher authority both as a witness and to ensure the performance of those promises, or to administer the penalty if they didn’t (Hebrews 6:16).

Abram knew that God wasn’t playing around – that He was putting Himself on the hook where His Word was concerned, and there was no turning back. And God put Himself on the hook for Abram’s benefit, so that the man’s mind could be firmly anchored in the expectation of the promise made to him – so that he could be “fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was [not only willing, by the sheer fact of His making the promise in the first place, but] also able to perform” (Romans 4:21; Hebrews 6:19).

God wants us to be just as ‘convinced’ as Abraham was. As a matter of fact, He was so serious about His promises to us – promises of salvation in every area of our lives, from now throughout eternity – that He swore them not in the blood of an animal, but in the precious shed blood of His own Son (Hebrews 6:17-18; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 5:6-8). God gave Jesus as a gift – not only for us, but to us. He’s sworn to us by an unbreakable oath that He loves us just as much as He loves Jesus, and that He’ll treat us just as He treats Jesus (John 17:21-24; Ephesians 2:5-6). What does that mean? Well, it means sitting down right beside Him, on His Throne (Ephesians 2:6). He’s promised it, even sworn it – and He’s a God of integrity.

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5 Comments to “A Sworn Oath”

  1. I didn’t know what a sworn oath was, admittedly, but I don’t know a lotta stuff. On the other hand, I know a whole lot about what I do know. Not that that’s enough but it’s better than nothing. 🙂

    • Hi Tots, thanks for stopping by…

      Hey, all of us don’t know a lotta stuff…and most of also probably know a lot less about the stuff we know a lot about than we thought we did 🙂


      • Trust me. I know a lot about what I know. It doesn’t leave a whole lotta room for what I don’t know, which is why I know a lot about what I do know. In my case, there are no probablies about it. Lester. 🙂

  2. The New Covenant is truly mind-boggling, in that God instituted this by way of the blood of His very own Son. It is an amazing love, that the Father has towards us. Thank you, Lester, for this. Blessed Sunday. Dee

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