Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 30, 2017

“Freely you received, freely give.”

Today’s devotion comes from Jeremiah chapter 34.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+34&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘I made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, “At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you;  but your forefathers did not obey Me or incline their ear to Me.  Although recently you had turned and done what is right in My sight, each man proclaiming release to his neighbor, and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name.  Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants.”’

“Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor.  Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine;  and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”  Jeremiah 34:12-17.

——————–

The context of the quoted Scripture is that “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, with all the kingdoms of the earth that were under his dominion and all the peoples, were fighting against Jerusalem and against all its cities …”.  Verse 1.  The people of Jerusalem should have recognized that their only hope was the LORD.  They wanted mercy from the LORD.  They wanted the LORD to give them release from the siege.  

Moreover, the people were aware of the following blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience in Deuteronomy chapter 28.  

“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God: 

“The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you;  they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.

15 “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

25 “The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies;  you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”  Deuteronomy 28:1, 2, 7, 15, and 25.

 

But, the people were unwilling to obey the LORD.  They were unwilling to show even a little mercy by releasing their own servants.   

And so, we see the results of their disobedience.  “Therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor.  Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine;  and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”  Verse 17.

 

We are reminded of Jesus’ parable on forgiveness.

For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.  When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’  And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;  and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’  So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’  But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.  So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.  Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  Matthew 18:23-35.

Other doctrine teaches its disciples that they contributed something to deserve mercy from God, and so it is easy to withhold mercy to others because the others should have likewise done something to deserve mercy.

But, Reformed Doctrine teaches its disciples that everyone is in the same boat of “Total Depravity”, and that no one deserves mercy from God, and so there is no excuse to withhold mercy to others. 

Freely we have received mercy.  Freely we should give mercy to others.

For who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  1 Corinthians 4:7.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.  Freely you received, freely give.”  Matthew 10:8.

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