What a fix! According to Jeremiah 34, the world’s armies under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar are aligned against Jerusalem and the other cities in the Kingdom of Judah. “Nebuchadnezzar had with him all his army and the armies of all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled” (34:1b). It is easy to see how this is another two-fold bible prophecy; one is the matter at hand and other is the End Time (Tribulation) alignment of nations against Israel.
Jeremiah is told once again to go to King Zedekiah of Judah and declare the end results; Babylon will trample the city, burn it, and take King Zedekiah a captive to Babylon. Recall in a previous article, it was Nebuchadnezzar who originally replaced King Jeconiah (aka: Coniah/Jehoiakim) with his uncle Zedekiah. Even secular records from the Babylonian Chronicles themselves reflect the same historical event- [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zedekiah]. This event happened around 597 B.C. The Babylonian Chronicles were published in 1956, after extensive research and archeological exploration.
Soon to be disposed King Zedekiah is assured by Jeremiah that God promises to let him die peaceably by something other than the sword but he will never again set foot in Jerusalem and languish in the hands of the Babylonians. His sons were not so lucky. They all were killed in the sight of Zedekiah. Then he lost his sight [2 Kings 25:1-7]. Zedekiah was the last king in the line of King David to sit on any throne in Judah or Israel, for all that matters. The next king to sit on that throne will be Jesus himself.
NOTE: Some people and theologians want to point to King Herod sitting on the throne in Judah however he was appointed through the Romans and was not in the line of David. [Herod the Great then Herod Antipas; the latter in the time of John the Baptist and Jesus].
Jeremiah 34:5 is something of assurance to Zedekiah. God promises through Jeremiah royal regalia upon Zedekiah’s death in Babylon. However, he remained under the authority of another.
There wasn’t much of a kingdom left by this time. Only three cities were even fortified in Judah; Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekash. All were taken at the same time by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies.
In a desperate move as in chess, Zedekiah decided to order all of his citizenry to “release all slaves and bondsmen.” Jeremiah 34:9 “Everyone was supposed to free their Hebrew slaves. All male and female Hebrew slaves were to be set free. No one was supposed to keep another person from the tribe of Judah in slavery” [ERV]. However in a sense, a way to underscore the selfishness of all the Jews in Judah, verse 11 tells us that they didn’t like it being without bond servants so they put each one back into servitude.
God reminds his people through Jeremiah that even when one Jew had another under servitude, every seventh year s/he was to be released, debt forgiven, and able to return to his or her home. They could be held as servants for six years but MUST be released on the seventh year. God points out that HE took them out of bondage in Egypt but not so they could hold a fellow Jew in bondage forever. God did not order that no slave be held, but he did instruct them on the conditions and then their release.
In a way, this may have been an out from the Babylonian oppression. God says through Jeremiah that it was a good thing to let them go, but since they almost immediately re-servitude then, HE was going to allow Nebuchadnezzar to do the same to them; times 10; i.e. 70 years captivity in Babylon. Note that there is nothing said about non-Hebrew slaves in Judah. The God-agreement was only to release all fellow Hebrews. Nothing God said was honored by these Judeans at this time and God finally called them on it.
There was a solemn practice [Genesis 15: 9-11, 17-18] back then that was God sanctioned; actually it was God initiated. Cut a calf in half and walk between the two parts as a blood agreement. Nothing was to be exempt. It was the same thing as taking an oath in the name of God himself. The second commandment is misunderstood by far too many today. They read “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” This is not just in reference to one swearing as an outburst, but also in taking an oath such as in court, “so help me God?” To take an oath of office or make a promise to another in the name of Lord God is a solemn or serious matter. To break it is not only an affront to one’s worthiness, but an affront to God [Matthew 5:33-37]. God initiated this way to take a solemn oath; one that cannot be broken.
Since there were the haves and the have-nots in Judah, the ones considered the “haves” were the elite. It is these to whom God states in Jeremiah 34:19…These are the people who walked between the two pieces of the calf when they made the agreement before me: the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the important officials of the court, the priests, and the people of the land.
34:20…”these are the Jews I will give to the Babylonians” (Chaldeans); “to be taken as captives.” Note that this does leave an out from being removed from Judah. If one did not have Hebrew slaves or did not return them to servitude, HE (God) by default did not forcibly have them removed.
NOTE: Think back about 1,500 years from this point in time. Abraham was originally from the Land of UR, Chaldean (another name for what we now read as Babylon) country.
The Babylonians had (temporarily) withdrawn by this time. It is speculation but probable because the Hebrew slaves had been freed, God backed off the armies of Babylon and its allies. When the Hebrew slave owning Jews saw this, they re-enslaved their fellow Hebrew people. Consequently, God brought back the Babylonians.
I recall one time as another pastor told me when a man came to him wanting earnest prayer for a certain predicament in which he found himself. He wanted a way out of it. We began to pray and I believe at the time the man was not only desperate but willing to do whatever to defer the problem. They began to pray together beseeching God to intervene. Suddenly, and without notice, he stopped praying and told us that he had figured out what to do so he didn’t need our prayers or God this time around. HMMMMMM? I wonder from where the answer came to him?
Thus was the fate of Judah, its kings, sovereignty and independence. They saw the Babylonians fall back from their gates and they in turn fell back from an oath taken in the name of God. The last verse in Jeremiah 34 is the conclusion. We should take personal note of this in our lives. Verse 22 states that “God gave the order for the Babylonians (or personal issue) to return and finish the consequences” [paraphrased]. Not only did he call them (the problem) back, but this time around they destroyed the very existence and essence of a kingdom or we might say one’s personal existence.
The Learning Pyramid: Awareness – Knowledge – UNDERSTANDING.