Keep Your Word

Posted: August 11, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 33-34, “Keep Your Word”

People sometimes say that promises are meant to be broken – but obviously they are not.  Sometimes people make promises that are easily broken (pie-crust promises), but ultimately promises are meant to be kept.  What would be the point in making it, otherwise?

We make promises to our spouse (“I, ____ take you ___ to be my lawfully wedded wife, and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses, to be your loving faithful husband for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health according to God’s plan as long as we both shall live”) – to our country (“I pledge allegiance to the flag…”) – to our peers in courts of law (“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…”).  Sometimes we even make promises to God, though those are often the most difficult for us to keep.  Yet we are not the only ones who make promises – God does, as well.  The Bible is full of the promises of God, and every promise God makes, God keeps.  He is faithful to do everything He says He will do…and we can be thankful that He is!  And of course how God acts in His faithfulness is how God expects His people to act as well.  God keeps His word, and so should the worshippers of God.

In regards to the Jewish nation, in Ch 33 God would reveal once more to Jeremiah that He would be faithful to keep His word.  He had promised Babylonian conquest, and the Babylonians would come.  He had promised Jewish restoration, and the restoration would come.  He promised revival and a glorious kingdom, and that would come as well.  Not a single promise of God would fall to the ground, to the praise of His glory.

Yet the same could not be said of the nation of Judah.  Facing the Babylonians and the end of their nation, Ch. 34 shows the Jews making a wonderful promise, but then turning their back on it, breaking the covenant they had made.  God could not & would not let that go unanswered.  God kept His promise, and the Jews were to keep theirs as well.

Jeremiah 33

  • God promises to restore King and Kingdom (vss. 1-18)

1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

  • The fact that God sent a word to Jeremiah “a second time” ought to beg the question: when was the first time?  Glad you asked. J  This seems to be a plain reference to Ch 32.  In 32:1-2, we’re told that the word of God came to Jeremiah in the 10th year of Zedekiah, the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar, while the armies of Babylon were besieging Jerusalem.  During that time, Jeremiah had been locked in prison, falsely accused of wanting to defect to the Babylonians.  The prophecies that Jeremiah proclaimed were so pro-Babylonian that the moment Jeremiah tried to go north to other Jewish cities, false accusations were made against him, claiming he was a traitor.  He was in pretty desperate straits (about to die of hunger) until Zedekiah showed a bit of mercy towards him, and allowed him to be locked up in the court of the prison, rather than the dungeon itself.  It was after all of this took place that God brought one of Jeremiah’s relatives to him, and told Jeremiah to exercise his right of redemption to purchase land in Judea.  Buying real estate during a time of Babylonian conquest would have seemed pretty foolish, but it was a way for God to illustrate that eventually the people would return to the land.  God had not given up on His people; Jews would once again inhabit the land of their promise and heritage – thus even the prophet could buy land for future generations.
  • In any case, once that word had been given to Jeremiah, there was another word that came to the prophet.  We’re not told how much time passed, but apparently Jeremiah was still in prison when this word came to him from God.
    • What does this tell us about the Lord?  Simple: He wasn’t done with Jeremiah.  He had not forgotten the prophet, and He wasn’t done using Jeremiah for His purposes.  It would have been easy for Jeremiah to think, “OK, I’m in prison – I guess my ministry is over.”  Not so…God had much more for Jeremiah to do!  The circumstances may not have been desirable, but that did not mean that God’s blessing was removed from Jeremiah.  God still had a desire to use the prophet, and that’s exactly what God did…while Jeremiah was still in prison.
    • We can have a tendency of thinking that our external circumstances are a sign of God’s blessing or God’s displeasure upon our lives.  If things are well, that must mean God is pleased with us.  If things are tough, then perhaps God is disciplining us.  Be careful!  Jeremiah was the faithful one, and he was in prison; King Zedekiah was continually in rebellion, and he was the one in comfort in the palace.  Their external circumstances meant nothing in how God viewed them or used them.  Jeremiah was right where God allowed him to be, in order to be used for God’s purposes and plans.  The key is not to necessarily seek for our circumstances to change, but to seek God in how He would desire to use us within our circumstances.

2 “Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): 3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

  • What was the kind of word that God gave Jeremiah?  First of all, it was a word based in all the power and authority of the Creator God.  God “formed” the universe – it was the Ever-existent I AM (Yahweh) who brought the physical universe into being, and “established” it.  This is the One True God (the ONLY true God), and this is a God of infinite power.  If the all-powerful God proclaims something to come to pass, there ought to be no doubt that He is able to MAKE it come to pass.  As God said to Jeremiah earlier: Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" []  The obvious answer is: no – there is nothing that is too difficult for the Omnipotent God.
  • Second of all, it was a word based in the all-encompassing knowledge of the Omniscient God.  It is God who is able to show Jeremiah “great and mighty things” – it is God who is able to reveal the future and show the prophet the things “which you do not know.”  The things that were difficult for Jeremiah to fathom are the things that are child’s-play to the all-knowing God.  He is able to reveal the past, present, and future.  God is beyond time, and He knows every outcome that will eventually come to pass, and God is able to make it known to whomever He so desires.
  • Keep in mind that Jeremiah’s God is OUR God.  OUR God is all-powerful.  OUR God is all-knowing.  There is nothing we can take to Him in prayer that He is either incapable of handling, or uninformed of how to handle.  Just as God invited the prophet, we can “call” upon Him, and trust Him to “answer” us.  We have questions – take them to God.  We have troubles – take them to the Lord.  We have cares & issues?  Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

4 “For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah, which have been pulled down to fortify against the siege mounds and the sword: 5 ‘They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but only to fill their places with the dead bodies of men whom I will slay in My anger and My fury, all for whose wickedness I have hidden My face from this city.

  • God brought the Babylonian.  God give a word to a defeated people in the midst of their defeat.  The Babylonians had come, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.  Even pulling down homes to block the siege mounds wouldn’t work.  The Babylonians would just trample over those things and fill the spots with “dead bodies.
  • God brought His anger.  Remember this was God’s work: “I will slay in My anger and My fury…”  They had been wicked, and this was God’s righteous wrath.
    • Thank the Lord that this is exactly what we have shelter from in Jesus!  Jesus serves as our propitiation – bearing the wrath of God that we deserved in our sin.
  • Thankfully, this wasn’t all that God promised to bring…

6 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. 7 And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first.

  • God will bring His healing.  As awful as the destruction would be, so great would be the healing!  There would be physical and spiritual healing.  Not only would the destruction cease, but God promised to bring an “abundance of peace and truth.
  • God will restore.  People would be taken out of the land, but the people would be brought back into the land.

8 I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me.

  • God will cleanse.
  • God will pardon.

9 Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.’

  • After God’s cleansing work, what is the result?  “Then” it shall be of joy to God.
  • Not just to God; the nation’s restoration will be a witness to the nations.

10 “Thus says the LORD: ‘Again there shall be heard in this place—of which you say, “It is desolate, without man and without beast”—in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, 11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: “Praise the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His mercy endures forever”— and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,’ says the LORD.

  • There is coming a soon time when things will be desolate & silent.
  • But the silence is temporary.  The sound of joy is coming
  • The sound of revival is coming
  • The act of sacrifice is returning to the temple
  • Note the immediacy of this promise.  There is much in God’s prophecies to Jeremiah regarding the future Millennial Kingdom (and more will be seen here in a moment), but this particular prophecy is for the more immediate future to Jeremiah.  This is concerning those who are “captives of the land.”  Those people will be restored, as will sacrifice and the rest.  And historically speaking, this proved to be accurate.  When the Persians sent the Jews back to the land, the temple was rebuilt, sacrifices again took place, and life proceeded on much as it had done in the past.
    • Yet even in this, there is the promise of something better.  Once restored to the land, the Jews worshipped God in part, but there is coming a day when the Jews will worship God as He is meant to be worshipped: in spirit and in truth through faith in the Lord Jesus.

12 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In this place which is desolate, without man and without beast, and in all its cities, there shall again be a dwelling place of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. 13 In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the South, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, the flocks shall again pass under the hands of him who counts them,’ says the LORD.

  • God gives another illustration of the Jews’ restoration to the land.  Not only will the sound of joy & revival be heard, but the land will be a land of peace.  The fields that were (then) currently war-torn by the Babylonians would one day be at rest.  The shepherds would have the freedom to allow their herds to graze in peace once more.
  • Specifically, this is a promise to the southern kingdom of Judea.  The regions that are listed are all in the south, and those are exactly the people who were returned to the land.  The northern kingdom morphed into the Samaritans; it was the southern kingdom that retained their Hebrew identity.
    • And again, one day ALL of Israel will be saved.  North & south will be gathered together again as one people…which is exactly what God is going to go on to promise.

14 ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:

  • God promised it; God would perform it.
  • What exactly will God perform?  “That good thing.”  What’s the good thing?  Jesus!  Vs. 15…

15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’

  • Jesus is the Branch
  • This is a promise of the Davidic Kingdom
  • If this prophecy sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen it once before.  Jeremiah 23:5–6, "(5) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. (6) In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" []  Yet notice a very specific change between 23:6 & 33:16.  In Ch 23, it is the Lord Jesus who will be called “The Lord our Righteousness.”  In Ch 33, it is the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem.  Is this a contradiction?  No – it’s a glorious show of grace.  This shows the extent of the revival that takes place in the land.  The people are so restored to God that they are known by the very name and character of God.
    • God’s people should always be known by His name and character

17 “For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ”

  • God’s kingdom will endure.  For how long?  Forever!
  • Q: Did this promise of God fail?  After all, Zedekiah was the last king of the line of David to “sit on the throne of the house of Israel,” and apart from the Babylonian captivity, from 70AD to this day, there have been no priests or Levites offering burnt offerings, etc.  Was God wrong?  Did God lie?  Heaven forbid!  What God spoke to Jeremiah was absolutely and literally true…we just need to look at the correct kingdom.  Did David lack an heir?  Absolutely not.  The true heir of David is the Lord Jesus Christ, and although He does not yet sit on the throne in Jerusalem, one day He will.  And when Jesus takes up His throne, He will be there forever.  Are Levitical priests in service now?  No – but in the context of the day in which God restores the kingdom, there is no doubt that there WILL be priests performing their priestly duty.  The prophet Ezekiel actually goes into great detail describing a temple that has never been historically built, but showing priests performing sacrifices there.  It would seem that during the Millennial Kingdom, as all of the promises to the (reunited) nation of Israel are fulfilled, priests will once again offer burnt offerings and more.  They will not do so in a vain attempt to cover over sin, but in memorial of their sins being covered by the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus (not unlike our current practice of the Lord’s Supper).  So no…God’s promises do not fail.  They never have, and they never will.
  • God’s promises are sure (vss. 19-26)

19 And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’ ”

  • God’s promises cannot be broken.  We might as well try to upset the natural division between day and night.  We might as well try to stop the earth from turning on its axis.  It is just as impossible for creation to cease its order as it is for God to break His word.
    • EVERY word of God is true!
  • Specifically, God says that David WILL have a kingdom.  David WILL have descendants, and Levites WILL minister, exactly according to all of God’s promises.  These things are certain and sure.
    • This ought to do away with all thoughts of so-called “replacement theology,” in which the Church spiritually replaces all of the promises to Israel.  In that line of thought, every promise made to Israel is not fulfilled to Israel, but fulfilled in the Church.  Scriptures are spiritualized and stretched to accommodate the Church, rather than the plain reading of the text which applies to Israel.  Yet what does God affirm here?  There will NEVER be a time that His covenant promises to Israel are null and void.  Day and night would cease before God would revoke His promises to David.  God could not be more clear that His promises to Israel stand as promises to Israel, and every word He has spoken will be fulfilled.

23 Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 24 “Have you not considered what these people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD has chosen, He has also cast them off’? Thus they have despised My people, as if they should no more be a nation before them.

  • It is not only certain theologians today that believe that God has forever cast off Israel.  There were people at the time who believed that God had forever cast off the “two familes” (two kingdoms) of Israel and Judah.  And yes, God had cast them off for a time in His righteous judgment.  But that does not mean that God was forever done with them.  Not only would God bring Judah back in the short term, He has a plan to bring ALL of them back in the long-term.  His ultimate plan for them is for ALL Israel come to faith in Jesus and be saved (Rom 11:26).

25 “Thus says the LORD: ‘If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.’ ”

  • Just in case the point wasn’t clear enough before, God repeats it here – only from the negative point of view.  The only way the physical nation of Israel would be forever cast away by God is if God forever broke His covenant promise with day & night and the rest of natural creation.
  • No, God had a far better plan: He would cause their return, and He would shower them with mercy.
    • What incredible promises from God!  Obviously, these promises are specifically for Israel, but the same God who made promises to Israel made promises to us.  The same God who gave His covenant word to Israel chose to include us in that same covenant.  As faithful as God is with David, so will God be faithful to each of us as His children.  We can trust the word of God!

Jeremiah 34

  • God promises to defeat Zedekiah (vss. 1-7)

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem and all its cities, saying,

  • The scene changes (a bit).  This is no longer a word specifically given for Jeremiah while Jeremiah was in prison.  The prophet is likely still in prison, but this is a word specifically given for King Zedekiah.  We’re not told the exact timeframe, but it was likely very close to the timeframe of the previous chapters, if not just prior to it.  In the grand scheme of things, the kingdom years of Judah were almost at an end, as Nebuchadnezzar had come out in force to besiege Jerusalem and finally crush all Jewish rebellion.
  • BTW – note that God never debates the fact that Nebuchadnezzar had dominion over the nations of the earth.  Obviously Babylon didn’t stretch over the entire planet; this would have been a title Nebuchadnezzar took for himself, but God doesn’t argue this with him.  In essence, the king of Babylon DID control the nations of the Middle East that he could reach – it was the largest empire in history at the time.  How did Nebuchadnezzar rise to such a position of power?  He was allowed there by God.  God is the one who raises up kings and puts them down again.  This was the king allowed by God to accomplish God’s purposes.  When Babylon came out against Judah, it wasn’t solely due to the ego and arrogance of Nebuchadnezzar; it was due to the righteous judgment of God.  The Jews (and specifically the Jewish king) had a need to humble themselves and submit themselves to the judgment of God – but this is exactly what they refused to do.  Thus God continued to appeal to Zedekiah to surrender…

2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. 3 And you shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.’ ” ’

  • The Jews could fight with all their might, but they would not win.  In generations past, the small Hebrew army could turn aside mighty empires and kingdoms far greater than their own – but those days are gone.  God had given the land of Canaan into the hand of the Hebrews as His gracious gift, but now God had given the land into the hand of Babylon as His righteous judgment.  For Zedekiah to resist this would be a losing battle…there was no way that the Hebrews could defeat the judgment of God, no matter how hard they resisted.
    • How foolish it is to fight against God!  We might as well push against a brick wall. It’s not going anywhere!  When God has revealed His will to us (specifically through His written word) the thing to do is not resist, but surrender.  It may not be the news we like – it may not be our preferred outcome – but no doubt it is far better than the consequences that come as a result of rebelling against God!
  • As for Zedekiah, he was given good news & bad news.  The bad news came first: Jerusalem would fall, and Zedekiah would be defeated.  There was no way around this.  The king of Judah would indeed see the king of Babylon face-to-face, and their meeting would be one of utter defeat.  (Thus the thing to do now would be surrender!  Stop resisting the outcome promised by God.)

4 Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: ‘You shall not die by the sword. 5 You shall die in peace; as in the ceremonies of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they shall burn incense for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!” For I have pronounced the word, says the LORD.’ ”

  • The good news?  Zedekiah would not be killed in battle.  He would “die in peace.”  That’s not to say that things would go easy for Zedekiah (though they may have gone easier for him if he had surrendered when given the chance).  As soon as Zedekiah saw the king of Babylon, he witnessed his sons being executed, and then had his own eyes put out (2 Kings 25:7).  He didn’t die in battle, but he was blinded & carried off in chains.  That said, apparently he died in peace, and was lamented by his exiled people when news got out of his death.
  • And again, this was the word of God, firmly “pronounced” by Him.  It would not change.

6 Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, 7 when the king of Babylon’s army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah.

  • Why the epilogue?  This isn’t simply an afterthought; it’s a statement that Zedekiah had been given plenty of time to humble himself in response to the word of God.  Babylon had come out, but he still had time to respond.  Babylon had other cities to put down before they concentrated their full efforts upon Jerusalem.  At any time during those battles, Zedekiah could have given himself into the hand of God and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, but he chose not to do so.  He knew the truth of what God had said; he simply chose to resist until the very end.
  • When is the time to stop resisting the Lord?  The very moment we discover we’re doing so!  When God reveals His judgment to us through His word, we shouldn’t need to “pray” over it to see whether or not we want to respond.  That’s not true prayer, anyway!  The ONLY response we ought to have at that point is simple obedience.
  • God promises judgment for broken promises (vss. 8-22)

8 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them: 9 that every man should set free his male and female slave—a Hebrew man or woman—that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage.

  • Again, the scene changes a bit.  Jeremiah is still taking a word of God to Zedekiah, but this is going to be addressed to more than only Zedekiah, but the entire nation.  During the initial Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, it seems that the king led the people in what seemed to have been a noble act of repentance.  Seeing the approach of Babylon, they made a corporate vow to free all of their slaves.  The fact that they had slaves to begin with wasn’t good – apparently they had kept their slaves in perpetuity, in opposition to the law of Moses which commanded that Hebrew slaves be set free every seven years.  Regardless of what happened in the past, Zedekiah and the rest decided to set their slaves free at the time, probably as a sign of visible repentance before the Lord.  This was great!  Yet what happened afterwards was not…

10 Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.

  • No sooner had they set the slaves free did they round them back up again and force them back into slavery.  Why did they do it?  Ch 34 seems to indicate that there was a brief time that Babylon had backed off from the siege of the city.  One of Judah’s allies (Egypt) had experienced a brief victory against Babylon, and apparently the Jews believed that they were out of the woods.  Once Babylon started retreating, they figured they could go back to their old ways and thus they broke their covenant promise of freedom.
  • God wasn’t going to stand for it…

12 Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 13 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying,

  • God had freed them ALL out of slavery at one time.
  • All of US were slaves as well…  All of us needed to be set free.
    • Some of us also need to SET some people free.  Perhaps you’ve been holding onto a grudge.  You need to release it – forgive the debt.  We have been set free; we ought to set others free as well.

14 “At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.” But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear.

  • God had given them laws and regulations regarding slavery.
  • Yet the people never obeyed these laws in the past.
  • That history was bad enough, but what they did in the present was even worse…

15 Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight—every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. 16 Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom he had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.’

  • Notice what their unfaithfulness did: profane the name of the Lord.
  • BTW – did you notice what God said was the right thing to do?  “Proclaiming liberty to his neighbor.”  This was true of the slaveholders in Judah, but spiritually speaking, this is the task given to EVERY NT believer in Jesus Christ.  Part of the gospel is proclaiming liberty to the captives.  We are supposed to preach liberty to those who are enslaved to sin…  We are supposed to proclaim liberty to those who are trapped to legalism…  We are to preach liberty, and we are to stay in the liberty given us by Jesus…

17 “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the LORD ‘to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth.

  • Because the Jews broke their word, God would bring His judgment.  Remember that they had made a covenant in the presence of God in the house of God.  They brought God into their promise, saying that God would judge their promise.  That was no superficial act to God; He took that seriously!  Therefore, God would act in judgment.
  • The Jewish slaveholders would not proclaim liberty, so God would grant them liberty – liberty away from His protection.  They would be free to experience the sword and other trials.  They were free to be killed.

18 And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it— 19 the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— 20 I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth.

  • These were the consequences for violating their covenant promises.
  • God went through similar actions when making a covenant with Abraham.  [Genesis 15:9-21]  Notice who went through the halves of the animals: only God.  This was a one-sided covenant.  All of God’s promises are based upon God’s actions; not Abraham’s.  That’s true with Abraham, and that’s true with us and Christ Jesus.  Our covenant relationship with God is founded in the shedding of much blood, but it is not our blood; it is the Lord Jesus’.

21 And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army which has gone back from you. 22 Behold, I will command,’ says the LORD, ‘and cause them to return to this city. 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.’ ”

  • Here’s the background for why the slaveholders changed their mind.  Babylon had backed off, but God promises that Babylon would be back.  This time, God would cause them to return, and the destruction would be total.

Conclusion:
When God makes a promise, His promise is unbreakable.  Ours ought to be no different.  God values covenant promises – both His own, and those that His people make in His name.

When we think upon the promises of God, we can thank God that they are certain!  There is not a single promise that will go unfulfilled – not a single Scripture that God does not bring to pass.  Our very salvation rests upon the covenant promises of God…if God was unfaithful, we would have no hope!  But God IS faithful, and our hope is solid in the promise of Jesus!

That’s how God works with us, and that’s how we ought to work with one another.  When we make a promise, God expects us to keep it.  Whether that is a simple “yes/no” or whether it is a more serious covenant commitment. 

Perhaps there is a promise of God that you need to cling to tonight.  Cling to it with all hope, knowing and believing God is faithful!
Perhaps there is an area in your life that needs correction.  A promise has not been kept, or forgiveness has been extended but then withdrawn again.  May our lives reflect the covenant grace that we ourselves have been shown.

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