A theme that hung in the background yesterday will be brought to the fore today, as the LORD assures multiple people that He is dealing with them justly according to their own deeds… everyone shall die for his own sin.
In the opening chapter the LORD sends Jeremiah to King Zedekiah, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion and all the peoples were fighting against Jerusalem and all of its cities… The LORD promises Zedekiah that He shall not escape, but shall see the king of Babylon eye to eye… and will go to Babylon. Everyone shall die for his own sin.
Later in the chapter the king and his subjects bring disaster upon themselves by first releasing their slaves and then re-enslaving them. It’s unclear why they made such a move, but it’s identical to that which the Egyptians attempted during the Exodus. The LORD calls them to account twice: for how they profaned His name in taking back their slaves, and for holding them for so long – in violation of His law in Leviticus – in the first place. Everyone shall die for his own sin.
Chapter 35 has a flashback to a visit from the Rechabites, a nomadic tribe whose ancestors had vowed “to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, and our daughters…” Even when offered wine by Jeremiah, in the LORD’s house, they refused. The LORD promises to honor their vow, but holds them up before the people of Judah as a contrast to their own unfaithfulness, and rejection of the prophets. Everyone shall die for his own sin.
Another flashback in chapter 36 shows Jeremiah sending Baruch, his scribe, to read in the LORD’s house a scroll prophesying “that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land…” The king burns the scroll, and fails to lament its contents. Therefore the king, Jehoiakim, “shall have none to sit on the throne of David…” Everyone shall die for his own sin.
Throughout today’s reading, listen for the repeated refrain, “…but they would not hear.” Though the chronology skips around, the theme is resoundingly clear: Judah, Jerusalem, and her kings, have been fairly warned, yet they would not hear… Everyone shall die for his own sin.
Our verse for this week is Hebrews 8:10: For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 34 through 36. Now let’s read it!
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?