Jeremiah 34:17

Jeremiah 34:17

to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *

September 10, 2019 – Tuesday

Jeremiah 34:17   NIV

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed Me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.

Comments

Before we get to the verse above lets provide some context. The prior chapter has a title of The Promise of Restoration (NIV) or The Lord Promises Peace (ESV) even though the palaces of Judah will be filled with dead bodies. Why? Because God then says through Jeremiah

“‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal My people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.

And later

12 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.

With this in mind it is natural to ask what happened in the interim so that we now have in our verse today God giving Judah the freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine? Turns out it has to do with the word freedom after in our chapter thirty-four God made a promise to Zedekiah

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas, master!” I myself make this promise, declares the Lord.’”

This happened while the armies of Judah and Babylon were engaged in battle. Seemingly as a result of Jeremiah’s prophesy about the fate of Zedekiah, the king made a covenant concerning the slaves in Judah.

The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves. Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage. 10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free.

This would have greatly pleased the Lord as Judah had not been following the directions given for the release of Hebrew servants or slaves and they had remained in bondage well past the seventh year.

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.   Exodus 21

So finally those who had Hebrew servants and slaves were doing the right thing and releasing them from their servitude and then (from the commentaries) we learn news arrived that an Egyptian army was marching to relieve Jerusalem, and these tidings caused the Babylonians to lift the siege temporarily so as to regroup and attack the advancing Egyptians. (Harrison) As a result thinking they had been saved from the destruction of the Babylonians they repented of their repentance concerning granting freedom to their fellow Hebrews.

11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.

This greatly displeased the Lord their God

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14 ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’ Your ancestors, however, did not listen to Me or pay attention to Me. 15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before Me in the house that bears My Name. 16 But now you have turned around and profaned My name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.

Which brings us to our verse of the day where God is going to grant them a ‘freedom’ unlike any they had ever had before – the ‘freedom’ to experience the wrath of God.

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed Me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.

We should be ever careful about covenants we make with God and especially careful about breaking the same covenant with Him. Perhaps above all when it is a covenant about following an instruction He has laid out for us. I am not suggesting ‘do not make a covenant with Him’ but I am suggesting only make those you surely intend to keep.

RileyD, nwJ
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)

* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.   (1 Samuel 15:22)