August 8 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 34-36 and Psalms 38
Even though The Lord was in the process of planning and executing great judgment against Jerusalem, Judah and Israel, He seemed quite willing to change his mind when the people began to show signs of repentance – they started freeing slaves who should have been let go a long time before. In response, God had the Babylonians back off from the City of Jerusalem for a time. The “repentance” didn’t last however and the people once again forced the one-time slaves into bondage. At this point, God sent Jeremiah to reinforce all the words of judgment he had previously spoken –
“Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. But now you have turned around and 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. ‘Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. 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.” (Jeremiah 34:15- 17)
“I will hand Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials over to their enemies who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 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.” (Jeremiah 34:21-22)
This scenario reoccurs in Scripture. God seems ready to change His mind concerning His sentence of judgment if only people will repent. Nineveh (Book of Jonah) is one of the best examples of this Biblical pattern but there are many others. You and I also had a sentence of death upon us because of our separation from God. It seems that in the case of judgment, God would always love to change His mind. Mercy is far and away His preference.
How’s your “mercy” factor coming along? Are you willing to “relent” if a person who sinned against us is showing fruits of repentance? I hope so. Are we willing to take a step further and release people like Jesus did?
1. Give another example from Scripture where God changed His mind concerning judgment He was about to dispense?
2. What was the reason God changed His mind?