Promise Breaker

But those slave owners changed their minds and forced their former slaves back into slavery.

That’s when the LORD told me to say to the people:

I am the LORD God of Israel, and I made an agreement with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, where they had been slaves. As part of this agreement, you must let a Hebrew slave go free after six years of service.

Your ancestors did not obey me, but you decided to obey me and do the right thing by setting your Hebrew slaves completely free. You even went to my temple, and in my name you made an agreement to set them free. But you have abused my name, because you broke your agreement and forced your former slaves back into slavery.

You have disobeyed me by not giving your slaves their freedom. So I will give you freedom—the freedom to die in battle or from disease or hunger. I will make you disgusting to all other nations on earth.
You asked me to be a witness when you made the agreement to set your slaves free. And as part of the ceremony you cut a calf into two parts, then walked between the parts. But you people of Jerusalem have broken that agreement as well as my agreement with Israel. So I will do to you what you did to that calf. (Jeremiah 34:12-18)

What part of loving each other didn’t they get? Although God did not forbid slavery, he did regulate it heavily. The only reason people became slaves in Israel was because of economic hardship. Such slavery was supposed to be temporary. After seven years, slaves were supposed to be set free. Unfortunately, the Israelites never abided by that agreed to limitation. Instead, they kept their fellow Israelites in permanent bondage. So God sent Jeremiah to warn the Israelites to repent or else.

One day the rich slave-owners finally decided to obey God and release their slaves in a grand public ceremony. They even made a formal promise to God about it. Such formal promises were confirmed, not by signing on the dotted line, but by sacrificing animals and walking between their cut up pieces. But almost at once, the slave-owners re-enslaved their slaves. So, not only had the violated the original promise their ancestors made to God in the time of Moses, they had violated the agreement they themselves had just made! God told them they were in big trouble.

Harming others, especially harming the disadvantaged and powerless, is one of the surest way to upset God. God doesn’t like bullies.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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