Closely examining Jacobís vow as found in Genesis 28 is one of the most intriguing studies ever undertaken by this author. The simple truth as found in Jacobís words is stunningly different than what most of us have been taught.† Using Jacob as an example, one prominent writer from a Corporate group, in an effort to try and prove a point about tithing, makes the bold statement that Jacob was saying that he would ďtithe from this day forwardĒ, or from the day he made his vow.
Okay, so letís see exactly how this vow went down, so we can get to the real truth. First we read that God made an unconditional vow to Jacob. God first offers to bless Jacob with the posterity that was promised to his grandfather, Abraham. Then God adds the following.† He specifically vows to be with Jacob and bless him everywhere he goes until He brings him back home again. That is quite a vow, and Jacob did not have to do anything to attain what God vowed.
Then Jacob decides to reciprocate with a conditional vow to God.† It is very direct and exact in detail, and also mostly a self serving vow! Since I usually refrain from directly quoting scripture, I will take literary license to paraphrase this vow in a form that more accurately reflects todayís use of English.
Perhaps it would read something like this: Jacob declares that if God will be with him, and if God will keep him in the way he goes, and if God will give him food to eat, and if God will give him clothing to wear, and if God will bring him back to his fatherís house in peace, then and only then would Jacob declare this God to be Jacobís God. After that, then Jacob would also pay tribute to this God. Please note carefully this is a very conditional vow where Jacob promises nothing unless God fulfills all Jacobís requests first.
We are assured that this is exactly what happened when we read that Jacobís family finally put away all strange gods and allowed God to be their God in Genesis 35. God then changes Jacobís name to Israel, and goes away. It would be at this point that Jacob would begin to fulfill his vow, to pay God tribute, exactly as his vow was conditioned! This would have been at least 20 years after the initial vow!
Now here is a teaser for contemplation. Most people are not even aware that the ďtenthĒ that Jacob promised to finally pay, was not the one that usually comes to mind, that of being a tenth of oneís personal income. For the moment I will leave the reader to ponder this, with a vital clue, ďthe Priestly portionĒ. There is much more to come, when we also look at Nehemiah 10 in a future article! A proper understanding of Jacobís vow will open the door to new and dynamic wisdom regarding tithing and offerings. Stay tuned!