Vows are important and renewing vows calls us back to that early importance.
“Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day,” (Nehemiah 9:32, English Standard Version).
“Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests,” (Nehemiah 9:38, ESV).
“We will not neglect the house of our God,” (Nehemiah 10:39b, ESV)
Renewing Vows: A Deep Covenant
Renewal of vows was the focus of Weddings for Warriors. The nonprofit organization, founded in Savannah by Becky and James Byous, sought to celebrate military marriages that remain firm despite the challenges. Each year, hundreds of volunteers provided their services and supplies to help military couples remember the priority of their marriage.1 I have never attended a renewal of marriage vows, but I can imagine it is a meaningful and moving event. Spouses publicly vowing to love and value one another is powerful.
Chapter 10 of Nehemiah reads almost like a renewal of vows. As a nation, the Jewish people looked back to previous spiritual journeys. Together, they vowed total allegiance to what God said to them through the covenant made with Moses, “to follow the Law of God … and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the LORD our God.”2 The covenant was both a personal and corporate commitment that people signed, sealed, and recorded. They publicly testified to their neighbors that they were presenting themselves afresh to God. This covenant held specific and precise promises because true renewal cannot succeed on sweeping statements and vague declarations.3 This covenant got to the nitty-gritty details of marriage, money, and worship.
Should We Mark a Time for Renewing Vows?
The people of God purposed to make their commitment more than just a new desire; they purposed to show their commitment through renewed action.4 This was an opportunity to start fresh and get it right—to make changes and adjustments.
A renewal of vows can be lovely and meaningful, but it is not necessary to renew the commitment you and your family have for God and for each other. Indeed, there are many challenges that weaken and strategies that strengthen military marriages. In what ways do you desire to start fresh in your commitment to one another?
Consider writing and signing a family covenant. Affixing a name to an agreement can be a public declaration of intent and can serve as a means for accountability.
Prayer for the Journey
Thank you, Lord, for the hope that comes from knowing and serving you. Help my family to be committed to loving, honoring, and serving you. Make our commitment to you and one another strong and sure. Amen.
1 Military couples wed, renew vows in Savannah through Weddings for Warriors Posted: January 14, 2015 - 10:56pm, http://savannahnow.com/news/2015–01–14/military-couples-wed-renew-vows-savannah-through-weddings-warriors
2 Raymond Brown, The Message of Nehemiah (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 173.
3 Ralph Davis, “Ezra-Nehemiah: Part 17,” IIIM Magazine Online 3, No. 25 (June 2001), 4, https://thirdmill.org/magazine/article.asp?link=http:%5E%5Ethirdmill.org%5Earticles%5Eral_davis%5EOT.Davis.Neh.3.html&at=Ezra-Nehemiah,%20part%2011 (accessed March 7, 2015)
4 Dahlen and Larson, Holman OT Commentary, 247.