The book of Jeremiah could be outlined this way:
- 2-29: Declaration of Judah’s current sins
- 30-33: Future renewal
- 34-45: Judah’s final days
Let’s prepare for some sobering bit of reading.
In chapter 34, God has the prophet Jeremiah go to King Zedekiah to give him more unfortunate news: he is to die and Judah will burn. Scary. Depressing. Heartbreaking. God reveals to King Z all that will happen, how he will not be able to escape, how he will meet the King of Babylon eye to eye, and will die — not by sword, but in peace.
Why is the question? What has Judah done to deserve this?
You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves. (Jeremiah 34:15-16 ESV)
And some of the most sobering words in all of Jeremiah:
“Therefore, thus says the LORD: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the LORD. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. (Jeremiah 34:17 ESV)
And His final edict:
Behold, I will command, declares the LORD, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 34:22 ESV)
God holds the character of integrity in high regard. The Israelites went against their word. They made a covenant, a promise, they gave their word to set the slaves free in the Temple. They “swore to God.” And then they went back on their word. How many times have I told someone a promise and actually say the words, “I swear to God”? From the courtroom to the playground this phrase is thrown around seriously, and also, flippantly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only sin Judah committed as the remainder of the book will discuss their sins.
God, help me to be a woman of integrity. Let me keep my word. Let me honor you in everything that I do.