About cfcm

cfcm has been a member since June 6th 2011, and has created 2186 posts from scratch.

cfcm's Bio

cfcm's Websites

This Author's Website is

cfcm's Recent Articles

Jeremiah 34:1-22: May God Soften Our Hardened Hearts

May God Soften Our Hardened Hearts

Jeremiah 34:1-22                                   Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 34:15                                    3-16-18

“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”

Part 1. God’s Undeserved Grace (1-7)

Verses 1-7, “While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

4 “‘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; 5 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.’”

6 Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.”

God  still cared enough about King Zedekiah to send some communication to him. Maybe God hoped that Zedekiah would come to his senses and repent. Why else would God even bother communicating with him anymore? Everything had been said, over and over again many times. Maybe, God wanted future generations to know that he is a God who keeps on communicating with sinners and tries his best to help them to repent of their sins, right up to the last moment. Thank you Lord, for not giving up on anyone.

It was a loosing battle. There were two “hold out” cities outside of Jerusalem. Maybe they thought that some allies would come to their rescue. Maybe they thought that God would miraculously  swoop in and smite all of their enemies. But this was fanciful thinking. God was allowing his people to be taken into exile into Babylon in order to help them to repent and be restored. It was all part of his painful, but effective, restoration plan.

People sure like to hang on to the very last moment, without repentance. I know some seniors, whose bodies and minds are completely failing them and yet they still refuse to repent and cry out to the Lord. There are people who are torn apart on the inside and are going through terrible stress. Their coping mechanisms are failing them. They need to cry out to Jesus. There are people fighting in wars, where they are completely defeated and yet they continue to hold out, even when there is absolutely no hope left. (Some causes are just and deserve to be fought for.) But all fighters in desperate situations need to cry out Jesus.

There was some good news for Zedekiah. The city would be destroyed and King Zedekiah captured. But God promised him that he would die in peace and be buried in honor. This would be grace on his life. The king did not deserve to die in peace. He was rejecting God over and over again. But God would be gracious to him and allow him to die in peace and honor. The grace of God is deep and wide.

Part 2: Sin That Was So Entrenched (8-11)

Verses 8-11, “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. 9 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. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.”

The king and some of his people made a covenant to free all the Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. According to God’s law, slaves should be set free. But rich, lazy people depended on slave labor. This time, however, with God’s sword of judgment hanging over the city, they set all slaves free. But as soon as they had done so, they changed their minds and enslaved them again.

This shows me how entrenched sin was in their hearts. They were about to be defeated. They were all going to be forced to go into exile. What is the point in keeping their slaves? They should let them go free. Maybe, they initially let their slaves go free as an attempt to appease God and maybe, just maybe, he would strike down the besieging army. This is not true repentance and submission to God. These people were far from God. One can see how hopeless they were. But God was still trying to help them.

The treatment for their entrenched sin would be their defeat and their exile to Babylon. Why did it have to go that far? We make it go that far, with our unrepentant hearts. God will attempt to till our heart’s soil so the seed of his word can grow. Lord, please grant us repentant hearts that respond to you, especially  in times of great suffering and sorrow.

Part 3: Freely Disobeying God Leads To Greater Bondage  (12-22)

Verses 12-22, “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.

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. 18 Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.

21 “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 22 I am going to give the order, declares the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

What the slave owners were doing was so unjust. Hebrews were selling themselves into slavery. They did so to pay off debts or to have a place to live and eat. But after six years they were to be set free. This is what the Law of God stipulated. But for the sake of their own selfishness, slave owners ignored the just laws of God and forced the slaves to remain even after six years. They did so even when their own world was falling apart. It was like two drowning people, sinking into the abyss and one holding the leg of  the next one and saying, “Hey, you owe me $10.” This is horrible.

The people even reneged on their promise to free the slaves. They knew that it was a religious requirement and they made the declaration. But they went back on it. It shows that they did not have a  moral backbone and cared nothing about the word of God. What was God to do with these people?

I believe this was included in the passage to demonstrate how far their hearts had gone and the attitudes that God had to deal with for so long. He bore with this for centuries. But now it was time for them to face the consequences of their unrepentant hearts. If they were wise, they would cry out to God and throw themselves at his feet and plead for mercy and forgiveness.

The people wanted to be free, free to disobey God and ignore his law and freedom from the oppressive Babylonian army. But for them there would be no freedom. God gave the disobedient king and his people the only freedom afforded them–freedom to fall by the sword, by plague and by famine.

Prayer: Lord, help me not to be so stubborn and hard hearted that I willfully disobey you and even rob my own people of justice for my own selfishness. Please, soften my heart and draw me near to you, my Lord and my Savior.

One Word:  Don’t wait until the bitter end, come to Jesus now.