4 or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt—
Leviticus 5:1 - 19
ESV - 1 If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity. 2 Or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt.
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In my opinion, the verse is speaking of taking an oath or making a vow without realizing its full implications, consequences, or requirements. (The New Living Translation of the verse expresses it as, "Or suppose you make a foolish vow of any kind, whether its purpose is for good or for bad. When you realize its foolishness, you must admit your guilt.") (https://biblehub.com/leviticus/5-4.htm) (Multiple translations of every verse in the Bible can be found on the biblehub.com website.)
In modern times, we actually do this constantly without realizing it and still suffer the consequences because GOD still takes oaths very seriously. That is why Jesus commands us directly and explicitly NEVER to take oaths of any kind for any reason, even giving us various categories of example so that we will not be deceived into believing that our oath-taking is something else, (Matthew 5:33-37). He states directly that 'only evil' comes from it. The Holy Spirit repeats this explicit warning through James: "But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your yes be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment." (James 5:12). The fact is, we are surrounded with 'nothing but evil' constantly because literally EVERYONE in our society is either bound by oaths or is actively violating them after unwittingly taking them. Think about it for a moment. From criminal gang members swearing allegiance or loyalty to their members up to the President of the United States swearing on the Holy Bible to defend the Constitution, we see 'oaths' being administered and taken. There is not a single position in society in between these two extremes on both sides of the law that does not require oaths to be taken before any expression of authority or power is 'permitted.' Whether a person serves in the military or law enforcement, acts as a member of a jury, a testifying courtroom witness or a judge, becomes a 'naturalized' citizen, joins a labor union, news organization, medical profession, or other 'legally sanctioned' activities or even criminal organizations, they all either directly take 'oaths' or serve those who do with the same oath being 'implied' upon them when they sign up, sign on or otherwise 'accept' their position. This is no coincidence. By making 'oaths' practically universal, Satan has effectively made everyone either openly defiant against Christ, or unwittingly disobedient to Him. This 'only results in evil' as the Lord told us. As Christians, when we see phrases like 'above all else' in holy scripture, we should pay special attention. In the Presidential 'oath of office' and others like it, we still see Christian influence whenever the phrase 'swear or affirm' remains intact. Early American Christians insisted upon this 'affirmation' being included as an alternative, meaning simply 'yes' instead of an actual oath being taken. However, over time this distinction has either been removed or lost. Thanks to oaths, we now live in a world of 'maybes' rather than just 'yes' or 'no.' Certainties and absolutes are mocked as 'childish,' 'backward' or even 'untruthful.' Yet, we learn nothing from 'maybes.' GOD wants us to passionately stand for 'yes' or 'no' and accept the consequences so EVERYONE can learn from our example. This is the basis of Christ's new 'law of burden-bearing' (Galatians 6:2). The 'burden' involves letting ourselves be embarrassed, caught in a sin or weakness and 'confessing,' admitting to being 'wrong' about things, admitting that we sometimes trust GOD to do things He never actually promised us, led by a 'lust' that tricked us into believing that He would give us what we shouldn't have, then choosing to accept responsibility rather than blaming Him for 'failing to answer us,' (James 4:1-4). The 'oaths' represent the alternative to this personal 'embarrassment.' It isn't MY fault, it is the 'system.' 'Maybe' if things change, we will all be better off. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Modern people mock 'demon possession' as a superstition confusing diseases of mind or body with the supernatural, but if you look at the word 'exorcise' in the Bible, it is a compound of the Greek words 'horkos' meaning 'oath' and the prefix 'ex-' meaning, 'out or away.' To 'cast out' a demon is to 'remove an oath' binding someone to the 'rules' set by that evil intelligence, casting out 'maybes' and uncertainty and restoring them back to only 'yes' and 'no.'
I like what Gill's Exposition of the Bible says: And when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these; when he is told of it, and it is made clearly to appear to him, that he did at such a time, and in such a place, deliver out a rash oath concerning this, or the other thing, then he shall be chargeable with guilt in one of these; either in rashly swearing to do good when it was not in his power, or to do evil, which would have been unlawful. The Targum of Jonathan is, "If he knows that he has falsified, and repents not, he is guilty.'' I think the CEV (Contemporary English Version) sums it up succinctly: CEV "You are guilty the moment you realize that you have made a hasty promise to do something good or bad."
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