they changed their minds
Jeremiah 34:8-22 (JDV)
Jeremiah 34:8 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from Yahveh after King Zedekiah made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom to them.
Jeremiah 34:9 As a result, each was to let his male and female Hebrew slaves go free, and no one was to enslave his fellow Judean.
Jeremiah 34:10 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.
Jeremiah 34:11 Afterward, however, they changed their minds and took back their male and female slaves they had let go free and forced them to become slaves again.
Jeremiah 34:12 Then the word of Yahveh came to Jeremiah from Yahveh:
Jeremiah 34:13 “This is what Yahveh, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, saying,
Jeremiah 34:14 ‘At the end of seven years, each of you must let his fellow Hebrew who sold himself to you go. He may serve you six years, but then you must let him go free from your service.’ But your fathers did not obey me or pay any attention.
Jeremiah 34:15 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.
Jeremiah 34:16 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.
Jeremiah 34:17 “Therefore, this is what Yahveh says: 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 what Yahveh declares – to the sword, to plague, and to famine! I will make you a horror to all the land’s kingdoms.
Jeremiah 34:18 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.
Jeremiah 34:19 The officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the pieces of the calf –
Jeremiah 34:20 all these I will hand over to their enemies, to those who intend to cut their throat. Their corpses will become food for the birds of the sky and for the wild animals of the land.
Jeremiah 34:21 I will hand King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials over to their enemies, to those who intend to cut their throat, to the king of Babylon’s army that is withdrawing.
Jeremiah 34:22 I am about to give the command – this is what Yahveh declares – and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, capture it, and burn it. I will make Judah’s cities a desolation, without inhabitant.”
they changed their minds
Zedekiah thought that he could save his throne, his city and his people from God’s judgment via the Babylonians. He had figured out that all they had to do was find one commandment that they hadn’t been keeping, and covenant to keep it. It struck him that freeing the slaves in obedience to the command (Exodus 21:2-4) should do it.
Right after the slave owners went through the calf-cutting ritual, it seemed to have worked. The Babylonian armies retreated to fight against the Egyptians.
But then the slave owners noticed all this work that needed to be done, and all this potential free labor standing around that could do it. They changed their minds.
God knew that they would change their minds because they had not changed their hearts.
When you repented, did you change your mind or change your heart. God knows.
Lord, make us people of integrity, who obey you because it is the right thing to do.