Kittredge Community Bible Church
10 AM - January 9
      • 2 Timothy 2:2CSB

  • Psalm 29:1-2
  • Rock of Ages
  • Wonderful Words of Life
  • Doxology
      • Jeremiah 34:2CSB

      • Jeremiah 34:9–10CSB

      • Leviticus 25:39–42CSB

      • Jeremiah 34:15CSB

      • Jeremiah 34:16CSB

      • Ezekiel 17:12–15CSB

      • Ezekiel 17:16–18CSB

      • Jeremiah 34:17CSB

      • Jeremiah 34:18CSB

      • Hebrews 6:13CSB

      • Luke 4:16–21CSB

      • Galatians 5:1CSB

      • John 8:34–36CSB

  • Amazing Grace
  • 2 Corinthians 13:13
  • Song
  • (Jeremiah 34:1-22)
    Martin Luther Kings’ I Have a Dream speech is remembered for highlighting the injustices endured for centuries by African Americans but it is most remembered for the hopeful refrain at the end when someday all people will be able to say “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
    No matter what you think about Martin Luther King as a person, I think we can should all look forward to that day when everyone will be free.
    People have been longing for freedom since time began. Thousands of years ago the people of Israel were longing to be free at last.
    The 34th chapter of Jeremiah is about people who longed to be free, recieved their freedom and then lost it. The chapter is a record of Jeremiah’s experiences during the siege of Jerusalem just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
    It begins with a warning to Zedekiah about losing freedom.
    The Warning to Zedekiah (1-7)
    Jeremiah 34:2 CSB
    “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go, speak to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it.
    The situation seems hopeless to Zedekiah but he’s determined not to give up without a fight. He was running out of time, though, as verses 6-7 illustrate—one by one all of Judah’s cities had fallen until all that was left was Lachish, Azekah, and Jerusalem.
    Treachery Against the Slaves
    So in one last ditch effort to save himself, and his people, Zedekiah along with everyone else made a covenant with God to set the Hebrew slaves free.
    Jeremiah 34:9–10 CSB
    As a result, each was to let his male and female Hebrew slaves go free, and no one was to enslave his fellow Judean. All the officials and people who entered into covenant to let their male and female slaves go free—in order not to enslave them any longer—obeyed and let them go free.
    Maybe Zedekiah made this last ditch effort to get God to relent before Jerusalem was completely taken over. Or maybe he let them go free so that they could help defend the city.
    Either way, this was a great thing for Zedekiah to do because no Israelite was supposed to be in servitude longer than 6 years. To let them be free is an example of biblical justice.
    In the Leviticus, one of the books of the law, it says:
    Leviticus 25:39–42 CSB
    “If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor. Let him stay with you as a hired worker or temporary resident; he may work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released from you, and he may return to his clan and his ancestral property. They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are my servants that I brought out of the land of Egypt.
    God was and is clearly against slavery. The Israelites were allowed to hire workers to work off their debts but they were not to possess slaves. Slavery is an abomination to God because all people are made in his image—we are all his servants.
    So, even if they did take on a hired worker, after six years the worker was to be set free without paying anything (Ex 21:2). This release was called the Year of Jubilee but they hadn’t been practicing it. History shows that they were keeping and selling slaves. For example, think of Joseph who was sold into slavery.
    Perhaps if they had obeying God and allowing the slaves, which they weren’t supposed to have, to go free every 7 years God wouldn’t have sent them into captivity in the first place.
    God loves to set captives free. He loves it when the disadvantaged and poor are shown mercy. He loves is so much that he set up a government to encourage it.
    Jeremiah 34:15 CSB
    Today you repented and did what pleased me, each of you proclaiming freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before me at the house that bears my name.
    For one brief moment the Israelites seemed to do what God loves: they did justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with their God.
    But they didn’t do so sincerely and their renewed effort to do right and give the slaves freedom was short-lived.
    What this shows is that the covenant they made for the slaves wasn’t motivated by compassion, justice, or obedience but by something else. We’ve seen this kind of thing before.
    At the end of the Civil War a similar thing happened. After the Emancipation Proclamation was made my President Lincoln on January 1, 1863 slavery became illegal but the spirit of slavery—racism remained alive and well.
    Slavery turned into lynching. Lynching turned into segregation. Segregation turned into prejudice. And now 159 years later, things are better for sure but there are still many ways black people in American aren’t yet free at last.
    Now, I’ll admit that I’m being political but I am not being partisan. What’s the difference? Politics effects every part of life. It effects how we treat people. It effects what laws we obey. It effects everything and so it’s impossible to not be political.
    But I’m not being partisan, in other words I am not trying to promote or persuade you to follow a particular liberal or conservative view of politics. I’m simply trying to be factual about the prejudice that still persists to this day and to remind us of the Bible’s non-partisan view of it.
    One of the main reasons for all the polarization among Christians about the subject of racism is because we have chosen to listen more to the voices from partisan politics than to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    The Sin of the Nation
    Anyway, the sin commited by the nation of Judah was reprehensible to God. They said the slaves could go free and then they reneged on their promise.
    Jeremiah 34:16 CSB
    But you have changed your minds and profaned my name. Each has taken back his male and female slaves who had been let go free to go wherever they wanted, and you have again forced them to be your slaves.
    According to Jer 37:5 it seems that when the Egyptians arrived to lend a hand against the Babylonians, Zedekiah and the people had a change of heart toward the slaves.
    Likely, what happened was once the immediate danger was passed, then the domestic work started to accumulate and the people wanted their slaves back. So broke their promise and went right back into the sin of slavery.
    Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time Zedekiah had broken his promise. In fact the main reason Nebuchadnezzar was marching on Jerusalem was because Zedekiah had broken his promise not make any treaties with the Egyptians.
    Ezekiel 17:12–15 (CSB)
    The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and officials, and brought them back with him to Babylon. He took one of the royal family [Zedekiah] and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath... However, this king [Zedekiah] revolted against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt so they might give him horses and a large army.
    Then, verse 16 goes on to say of Zedekiah...
    Ezekiel 17:16–18 CSB
    “ ‘As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—he will die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke. Pharaoh with his mighty army and vast company will not help him in battle, when ramps are built and siege walls constructed to destroy many lives. He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. He did all these things even though he gave his hand in pledge. He will not escape!
    It’s a serious sin when we break our promises. Yet how many times have we do so? Marriage vows, vows to our church, vows to our children, vows to God have all been broken. In times of desperation we cry out for God to help us, and in exchange promise to devote our lives to him. We promise to pray and read our Bible and leave our wicked ways behind. Then when God helps and the urgency is passed we go right back to our old ways.
    Here’s what God says to his people:
    Jeremiah 34:17 (CSB)
    You have not obeyed me by proclaiming freedom, each for his fellow Hebrew and for his neighbor. I hereby proclaim freedom for you—this is the Lord’s declaration—to the sword, to plague, and to famine! I will make you a horror to all the earth’s kingdoms.
    The kind of “freedom” that Judah gave their slaves wasn’t really freedom at all and neither was the freedom God gave in return. God set them “free” to do what they wanted releasing them from his protection.
    Because what they did was so sinful God’s punishment was just, especially considering they used to be slaves themselves (Jeremiah 34:13).
    And it’s not that they didn’t know the severest of punishments was coming. They knew what they were getting into when they made the agreement.
    Cutting a Covenant
    See, Judah didn’t just make a covenant they cut a covenant. Whenever a covenant was made the people would take an animal and cut it in half and then walk between the two halves essentially saying “may this happen to me if I don’t keep it.”
    Jeremiah 34:18 CSB
    As for those who disobeyed my covenant, not keeping the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat them like the calf they cut in two in order to pass between its pieces.
    God is a covenant-keeper and he hates covenant breaking so the harshest of punishments is justified when covenants are broken. But God also knows his people are incapable of keeping their word. Yes, because we love God, and want to be like him, we must do our best to keep our promises, and fulfill our vows, but God knows we are going to fail.
    That’s why he made an everlasting covenant with himself.
    Hebrews 6:13 CSB
    For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater to swear by, he swore by himself:
    When the covenant with Abraham was made it was God that walked between the animals that had been cut in half. So when we fail to keep it, which was inevitable, God himself suffers the consequences for our sin. And, of course, that’s what happened when Jesus was crucified on the cross. He took upon himself the punishment we deserve.
    So God’s people have been set free. We are free at last.
    Jesus’ First Sermon
    It’s interesting that freedom from slavery was the subject of the first sermon Jesus ever preached.
    Luke 4:16–21 CSB
    He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
    As the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus he declared that The Year of Jubilee was fulfilled in him because he had come to set the captives free.
    He had come to do what Judah couldn’t do. He was going to set people free once and for all.
    What kind of freedom? Not necessarily political freedom. After all, after Jesus’ death the Romans were still in charge and the Jews had to keep on serving the them.
    No, Jesus came primarily to set us free from sin. John 8:34 says that everyone who sins is a slave to sin and that’s the worst kind of slavery but Jesus offers the best kind of freedom—freedom from sin.
    Yet, sadly, many who have been set free want to go back to slavery. Some of us refuse to give up our guilt and insist on earning our way to heaven. Instead we should be resting in the freedom we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Some of the most sweet words in the Bible are found in Galatians 5.
    Galatians 5:1 CSB
    For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    The Christian life isn’t a new form of slavery, it’s a life of freedom. Through Christ’s work on the cross we have been set free to live for him. And if you have been set free by Christ it can never be revoked. Once free, always free.
    John 8:34–36 CSB
    Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
    God hates all kind of slavery—literal slavery that treats other people made in God’s image harshly. He hates racism and prejudice, and these are things we should be fighting against, but most of God hates our slavery to sin. And, thank the Lord he’s done something about it through Jesus Christ.
    Someday all of God’s people will be able to say they are free at last—free from sin and free in every sense of the word. So let’s not just hope for that day, let’s do all we can to make it happen in the communities we live in today.

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