In The Word
Read: Jeremiah 34
A Prophecy against Zedekiah
34 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his control and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and all its cities, saying, 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Behold, I am handing this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire. 3 And as for you, you will not escape from his hand, for you will assuredly be caught and handed over to him; and you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face, and you will go to Babylon.’”’ 4 Yet hear the word of the Lord, Zedekiah king of Judah! This is what the Lordsays concerning you: ‘You will not die by the sword. 5 You will die in peace; and as spices were burned for your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they will burn spices for you; and they will mourn for you, crying, “Oh, my lord!”’ For I have spoken the word,” declares the Lord.
6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and all the remaining cities of Judah, that is, Lachish and Azekah, for they alone remained as fortified cities among the cities of Judah.
8 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem, to proclaim release to them: 9 that each person was to set his male servant free and each his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, so that no one would keep them, his Jewish brother or sister, in bondage. 10 And all the officials and all the people obeyed who had entered into the covenant that each person was to set his male servant free and each his female servant, so that no one would keep them in bondage any longer; they obeyed, and set them free.11 But afterward they turned around and took back the male servants and the female servants whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male servants and as female servants.
12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘I made a covenant with your forefathers on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, 14 “At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has been sold to you and has served you for six years, and you shall send him out free from you.” But your forefathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear to Me.15 Although recently you had turned and done what is right in My sight, each one proclaiming release to his neighbor, and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. 16 Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each person took back his male servant and each his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male and female servants.’
17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release, each one to his brother and each to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to the sword, to the plague, and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 I will give the people who have violated My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, whenthey cut the calf in two and passed between its parts—19 the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the high officials and the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20 I will hand them over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the animals of the earth. 21 Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will also hand over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives, and to the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. 22 Behold, I am going to give a command,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring them back to this city, and they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.’”
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Walking In The Word
God proclaimed through Jeremiah that King Zedekiah would not die from the Babylonian siege but from natural causes. God’s promise came after the king and the people made a covenant with Him to set free all of their Jewish servants. But when the Babylonian army postponed their siege against Judah to fight Egypt, the people broke their covenant and forced their servants back into servitude. Since the people failed to permanently release their servants, God removed His divine protection and handed them over to the sword, plague, and famine. Once again, the Israelites proved to be covenant breakers. Previously, God had freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and had made a covenant with them to be their God, but they broke the covenant and returned to idolatry.
God teaches that our words matter. As His children, God expects us to choose our words carefully and to keep every promise we make. We will give an account to God for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). We live in a world where people make commitments and promises, but often fail to keep them. People even make promises to the Lord when they are in tough times, only to break their promise when things get better.
How good have you been at keeping your word to God and to others? If you have not done well, repent to God today and make a decision to choose your words carefully. As God’s ambassador to the world, you are to be trustworthy by keeping your word.