God delivered a Message to Jeremiah after King Zedekiah made a covenant with the people of Jerusalem to decree freedom
to the slaves who were Hebrews, both men and women. The covenant stipulated that no one in Judah would own a fellow Jew as a slave.
All the leaders and people who had signed the covenant set free the slaves, men and women alike.
But a little while later, they reneged on the covenant, broke their promise and forced their former slaves to become slaves again.
Then Jeremiah received this Message from God:
"God, the God of Israel, says, 'I made a covenant with your ancestors when I delivered them out of their slavery in Egypt. At the time I made it clear:
"At the end of seven years, each of you must free any fellow Hebrew who has had to sell himself to you. After he has served six years, set him free." But your ancestors totally ignored me.
"'And now, you - what have you done? First you turned back to the right way and did the right thing, decreeing freedom for your brothers and sisters - and you made it official in a solemn covenant in my Temple.
And then you turned right around and broke your word, making a mockery of both me and the covenant, and made them all slaves again, these men and women you'd just set free. You forced them back into slavery.
"'So here is what I, God, have to say: You have not obeyed me and set your brothers and sisters free. Here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to set you free - God's Decree - free to get killed in war or by disease or by starvation. I'll make you a spectacle of horror. People all over the world will take one look at you and shudder.
Everyone who violated my covenant, who didn't do what was solemnly promised in the covenant ceremony when they split the young bull into two halves and walked between them,
all those people that day who walked between the two halves of the bull - leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, palace officials, priests, and all the rest of the people -
I'm handing the lot of them over to their enemies who are out to kill them. Their dead bodies will be carrion food for vultures and stray dogs.
"'As for Zedekiah king of Judah and his palace staff, I'll also hand them over to their enemies, who are out to kill them. The army of the king of Babylon has pulled back for a time,
but not for long, for I'm going to issue orders that will bring them back to this city. They'll attack and take it and burn it to the ground. The surrounding cities of Judah will fare no better. I'll turn them into ghost towns, unlivable and unlived in.'" God's Decree.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)