Tag: repentance and return

Covenant Breakers Reward

Scripture reading for August 13th: Jeremiah 34-36

Jeremiah had an interesting life and a difficult message.  He was sent by God to God’s people with a message of judgment and rebuke.  He was told up front that they would not listen. (Jeremiah 1:19)  In today’s reading, Jeremiah gives a final warning to the last king of Judah before the fall of Jerusalem and captivity.  He urged King Zedekiah to go peaceably into captivity and told him that God would take care of him there. (Jeremiah 34:2-5)

Zedekiah was desperate when he received this message from Jeremiah.  Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonian army and only two other cities of Judah were holding on.  Zedekiah made a vow and covenant before the Lord to free all the Hebrew slaves in the city.  The law of God commanded them to do this every seven years so they were only doing the will of the Lord.  They initially obeyed, but then changed their minds and took back all the slaves.  (Jeremiah 34:10)

God doesn’t look favorably on covenant breakers.  He sent Jeremiah with another word for Zedekiah.  “Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight:  Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen.  You even made a covenant before Me in the house that bears my Name.  But now you have turned around and profaned My Name; each of you has taken back his male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished.  You have forced them to become slaves again.” (Jeremiah 34:15-16)  Repentance is choosing to do what is right in God’s sight.   Turning back to the old way when you promised to go another is profaning God’s Name!

The Lord carefully marks vows we make before Him.  (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7)  When we make a covenant with God and others, God expects us to keep that agreement.  In that day, the agreement was made by killing an animal and splitting it in half.  The covenant makers would walk between the pieces and swear that God could do to them what was done to the animal if they broke the covenant.  (Jeremiah 34:18-19)  It was a visual reminder of the cost of keeping a covenant.  God’s decree over these covenant breakers was strong: ” The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, . . .I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air.. .” (Jeremiah 34:20)

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