Jeremiah 34

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Read Jeremiah 34

Warning to Zedekiah

34 While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiahking of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.

“‘Yet hear the Lord’s promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the Lord says concerning you: You will not die by the sword; you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas, master!” I myself make this promise, declares the Lord.’”

Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out—Lachishand Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.

Freedom for Slaves

The word came to Jeremiah from the Lord after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves.Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Hebrew in bondage. 10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.

12 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14 ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’ Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me.15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. 16 But now you have turned aroundand profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. 19 The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, 20 I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.

21 “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon,which has withdrawn from you. 22 I am going to give the order, declares the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

Go Deeper

Today’s passage is a reminder of the benevolence of our good Father, the power of grace, and the charge we’ve been given in our journey of sanctification.

Starting in verse four, even amidst God‘s condemnation of Zedekiah, He shows His obvious desire to bless him. Through this we can see that He is not a jealous God that loves to punish, but rather a God that has a righteous anger, desiring so much more for us than for us to dwell in disobedience and sin. We can see the immediate positive impact that this had on Zedekiah by seeing how he responded to God‘s grace by extending it to others by his covenant of proclaiming the overdue freedom for slaves in verse 8. As we see stated later in the passage, this should’ve been occurring on a scheduled basis already, but had failed to be ever enacted. 

This decree was upheld at first by the people of Judah, but unfortunately, they returned to their ways, seeking out comfort and old patterns. We also do the same thing when God has called us to do something outside our comfort zone. Just like a good parent, our patient and benevolent God chose to punish in this situation, in order for His children to grow from their choices. Although the punishment was daunting, you can see the act of love behind it, just as in the case of his message to Zedekiah earlier in this chapter.

Also, with these last actions of the people of Judah, we can see a strong message of what we are called to do as followers of Christ. We are called to be steadfast in our spiritual journey including obedience. When God tells us to change, He doesn’t want us looking back. It is a continual long-term process with a permanent result. Sometimes when we are not careful, we may lose ground in trying to be obedient. However, spiritual disciplines such as praying, reading/memorizing scripture, gathering with believers, and others can help us maintain the course!

It should be a wonderful comfort to us that our God is a God of promises, who holds Himself accountable to His own promises more than he holds us to our promises. Throughout scripture, he continues to uphold his side of the bargain, while being continuously patient with our failures to remain obedient.


  1. How could you better share God’s grace to those around you?
  2. How has God blessed your life despite your disobedience?
  3. What aspect of God’s character stirs your affection for Him?

By the Way

We discover Zedekiah’s fate in another book of the Bible. Read what it says in 2 Kings 25:7: 

“Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.”

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3 thoughts on “Jeremiah 34”

  1. At the root of all sin is unbelief that God is good and is true to his word. This ugly root propels us into selfish motives and gain that separate us from God’s best for us, resulting in consequences we would never choose. As we read these narratives, may we learn from them and walk a path of obedience that both honors God and gives us abundant life through Christ. It starts with taking every thought captive and placing it under the authority of God’s word, not bowing to our sinful desires.

  2. We are fickle people. When we get backed into a corner we pray “God help me, I promise I will…” but after we are out of the situation we tend to go back to our disobedient selves. BUT GOD has more grace. I am tired of this hamster wheel. I resolve not to do that thing and then, there I am back doing that very thing. Truly laying it, that sin, and replacing it with God is what I am after. Letting go, letting God. I desire to let God penetrate every aspect of my life. It does happen and then, UGG, I am back on the hamster wheel. This is what I see has happened time and time again within these chapters. I am so thankful for living in the NT times. I want to be a disciple or apprentice to Jesus. I want Him to be my rabbi, so I can become like my rabbi, and do as He did. Be with Jesus, become like Him, and do as He did. (Practicing the Way). This is not about me getting into heaven but about heaven being in me now, here on earth.
    Matthew 7:13-14 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    God thank You for me following my deepest desires to glorify You. God I want to reorder my life into following the way of Jesus. God help me stay in the narrow gate and follow it. God show me today, in these minutes, how to love Your people well, to hear You well, to be in obedience with You even when my flesh jumps up to be fickle. God I praise You and give You all glory and honor for these moments in this day in Jesus name amen

  3. 2 “I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. 3 You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.”

    Sounds like a plot from an action movie, “You are about to be kidnapped. Don’t resist.”

    But then, the action hero gives the reassuring words, “Don’t worry. I will find you and I will save you.”

    It must have been a very nerve wracking time for God’s people awaiting their capture and exile, but with the promise of God’s rescue of them.

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