Freedom to Fall

African Americans who want to learn more about their ancestry have, as of 2016, a new database they can consult. The Freedman’s Bureau Project digitized post-Civil War historical records in order to create a searchable database of nearly 1.8 million emancipated slaves.

When Jerusalem was under siege, the people had vowed to the Lord that they would free all their Hebrew slaves (vv. 8–10). This was a formal covenant agreed to by King Zedekiah and all the people. Why? It started out as an act of repentance and returning to the Lord (v. 15). The Law banned holding fellow Hebrews as slaves for longer than six years. They were to be freed in the seventh year (v. 14; Deut. 15:12). At that time, slavery as an economic practice…was a way for the poor to survive, so God allowed it, which did not mean He approved of it.

They kept their promise and freed the slaves, temporarily. When the Egyptians came on the scene in 588 B.C., the Babylonians temporarily lifted the siege to attack them. At that point, King Zedekiah and the people broke their vow and enslaved the people they had just freed (v. 11). So much for repentance—they went straight back to their rebellious ways! (v. 17).

Through Jeremiah, God condemned them for their faithlessness. He pointedly reminded them that He’d freed their entire nation from slavery (v. 13), so why were their hearts so hard? By breaking their promise, they’d profaned God’s name, the opposite of bringing Him glory (v. 16). As a result, they received from the Lord a sentence of ironic justice—the same “freedom” they’d given their slaves. They were now free to die “by the sword, plague and famine” when the Babylonians returned (v. 17).

As we’ve seen, God hates sin, but He loves us. In order to receive His forgiveness, we need to be in the daily habit of confessing our sins to Him (1 John 1:9).

Extended reading: Jeremiah 34–35

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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