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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Jeremiah 34

Verses 1-7

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 34

THE PROFANATION OF JEHOVAH’S NAME

This chapter is dated by the reign of Zedekiah - following the taking of Jeconiah, as a captive, to Babylon. Jerusalem (along with Lachish and Azekah - the only two fortified cities remaining in Judah) is surrounded by an international army, under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, which marched against the Holy City in reponse to the rebellion of Zedekiah, (588 B. C. comp. 2 Chronicles 36:11-16).

1. Jeremiah is sent to inform the King of Judah that God has given Jerusalem into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon) who will burn it with fire, (vs. 1-2; comp. Jeremiah 32:29; Jeremiah 37:8-10).

2. Nor will King Zedekiah escape out of the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (vs. 3; Jeremiah 21:7; 2 Kings 25:1-5); he will also be taken, as a captive, to Babylon.

3. Zedekiah, however, will NOT fall victim to the sword (vs. 4a); he will die in peace, and will receive an honorable burial, (vs. 4b-5; 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19).

4. Jeremiah delivered this message to the king of Judah while the Babylonian army fought against Jerusalem and the remaining strongholds of Judah, (vs. 6-7; comp. 2 Chronicles 11:5-12).

Verses 8-11

Vs. 8-11: THE VIOLATION OF A SACRED COVENANT

1. Under the strain of crisis, and quite possibly in an attempt to appease the wrath of God upon the nation’s sin, Zedekiah induced all those to whom their Hebrew brethren had contracted themselves as bondservants to solemnly swear to their liberation, (vs. 8-10, 14,17; comp. 2 Kings 23:2-3; Nehemiah 5:1-13; Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 25:39-46).

a. Perhaps God would view their act with such favor that He would cause the siege to be lifted miraculously

b. Beside this, a freedman would be much more apt to fight courageously for the defense of the Holy City

2. Shortly after the release of their bondservants the siege was temporarily lifted - obviously due to the distraction of the Babylonians by the advancing army of Egypt, which appeared to be coming to the defense of Judah and Jerusalem, (Jeremiah 37:3-9).

3. When it appeared that Jerusalem had been miraculously spared, and that danger was past, many former slave-holders revoked

their solemn pledges of liberty to their brethren and forcibly compelled their return to positions of servitude! (vs. 11; comp. Psalms 78:34-41; Hosea 6:4-7).

4. It should be noted that God expects men to take their vows seriously - regardless of the circumstances under which they are made. (Psalms 76:11; Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).

Verses 12-16

Vs. 12-16: THE SERIOUSNESS OF PROFANING GOD’S NAME

1. God is highly displeased with the unfair treatment of these bondmen whose liberty has been revoked

a. He reminds the nation of the covenant made with their fathers when He had liberated them from the house of bondsmen in Egypt, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 31:32; Exodus 20:2; Exodus 24:3; Exodus 7-8; Deuteronomy 5:3; Deuteronomy 5:27).

b. According to that covenant, a Hebrew who (having fallen on hard times) contracted himself out to the service of another was to be released from that contract when he had served six years (vs. 14a; Exodus 21:2-11; Deuteronomy 15:1; Deuteronomy 15:12-18; Leviticus 25:39-46; 1 Kings 9:22).

c. But the nation has constantly refused to hear and obey the word of the covenant in this matter, (vs. 14b; comp. 1 Samuel 8:7-8; 2 Kings 17:13-14).

2. God had been pleased with the covenant they had made before Him in the temple, in the midst of the siege - to release the slaves, (vs. 15).

3. But, when these brethren were again forced into servitude (contrary to that covenant) the Lord regarded the action as

a PROFANING of His own Holy Name! (vs. 16, 11; comp. Ezekiel 18:24; Exodus 20:7).

a. The "name" of God is a term symbolizing His character, honor and authority; it suggests His respect for man, as man, and His care for the creature made in His own image.

b. To "profane" that name is "to bore, to pierce" and, by implication, "to wound, or wrong" - as the defacing of an image or superscription on a coin.

c. Thus, the action of the nation has libeled (falsified) the name of Jehovah - robbing Him of His honor, and challenging His sovereign authority! And there is a threefold sense in which they had done this.

1) In the long, persistent disobedience of the nation in their treatment of the slave - while the name of God stood for their CARE, and the law of God required their release after six years of service.

2) In the selfish motive of Judah’s leaders that brought about this release in the midst of the siege - thinking that God could, somehow, be bribed into favoring them, while they were thinking only of their own physical welfare.

3) In the violation of the oaths they had taken, and their return to willful disobedience, as soon as outward circumstances temporarily removed the fear in which their oaths were rooted.

Verses 17-22

Vs. 17-22: THE HIGH COST OF PROFANING GOD’S NAME

1. Since Judah has acted falsely, with regard to God’s covenant, and the release of their bondsmen, the Lord will liberate them, (vs. 17); having perverted her own liberty into license, she has, by her self-will, loosed herself from the sphere of God’s protecting providence to become enslaved (Leviticus 26:34-39; comp. Matthew 7:2): to the sword, (Jeremiah 32:24; Jeremiah 38:2), to pestilence, to famine and to captivity - being scattered among "all the kingdoms of the earth", (Jeremiah 29:18; comp. Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 28:64).

2. The covenant that God had made with them was ratified, on their part, by the cutting in half of a calf (their "cutting" of that which symbolized the covenant), and passing between the two parts, (vs. 18­-19; comp. Genesis 15:10): this was their solemn pledge to abide by the stipulations of the covenant.

3. Since they have "transgressed the- covenant" (Deuteronomy 17:2; Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1) in failing to do as they had promised, the Lord will deliver them into the hands of their enemies (comp. Jeremiah 11:21-23; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 22:24-26) where their dead bodies, like that of the calf, will "be meat for the fowls of the heaven" and the beasts of the earth, (vs. 20; 19:7; comp. 1 Samuel 17:44-46).

4. Though the army of Babylon has temporarily lifted the siege against Jerusalem, Jeremiah insists that the Lord will still deliver Zedekiah and his princes into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, (vs. 21; Jeremiah 32:3-4; Jeremiah 39:6-8; 2 Kings 25:18-21; Ezekiel 17:16-21).

5. The Lord Himself will command the Babylonians to take Jerusalem, to burn it with fire, and to make the cities of Judah so desolate that they will be without inhabitant, (vs. 22; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 33:10; Jeremiah 44:22).

6. God’s name may still be profaned by:

a. Despising and rebelling against His right to lordship over our lives;

b. Libeling His character - in professing to practice all sorts of wickedness in His name; and

c. Robbing Him of the honor and glory that are rightfully due him, by failing to render such faithful, humble and joyful service as should be inspired by His very GOODNESS toward us!

And the cost of such profanation is exceedingly high! (Hebrews 10:26-31).

What Lesson Does this Have for us Today?

The "Name of God" still stands as a revelation of His character, His honor and His authority - all of which are summed up in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord! Every name and title of God found in the Scriptures is a suggestion, and unveiling, a REVELATION of what God is! His name was SACRED, (Exodus 20:7; Nehemiah 9:5-6; Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 50:10; Malachi 1:11-12). And blessing was associated with His name, (Numbers 6:23-27).

I. IT STANDS AS A SYMBOL OF DIVINE RESPECT FOR MEN.

A. JESUS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WITH MEN in His incarnation, and in the humbling of Himself in obedience, even unto death, FOR OUR SIN!

B. The true glory and worth of humanity is revealed in His voluntary laying aside of His divine rights and privileges that He might be tempted "in all points" as we are - triumphing over it all IN OUR BEHALF!

C. Humanity is NOT degraded by the stripping of the Son of Man in our behalf - nor by His loneliness and poverty in human life; instead, it is ENNOBLED: He manifested the divine outlook upon humanity -revealing GOD’S RESPECT FOR MAN!

D. When Jesus was in the world He was not attracted by poverty or wealth; He loved and respected men AS MEN! The "Name of the Lord" also stands as:

II. A SYMBOL OF GOD’S LOVING CARE FOR MANKIND a care that is manifested in His giving to every man adequate opportunity for the realization of his highest potential in life. THAT is the real MEANING OF SALVATION!

A. Salvation is NOT some METHOD whereby God reaches down to a depraved, ruined sinner - transforming him into an entirely different being with a different nature.

B. Nor is it that by which God takes hold of one who is a BEAST and transforms him into an ANGEL!

C. SALVATION is that whereby God reaches down to man and makes it possible for him TO BE SUCH A MAN AS MAN WAS INTENDED TO BE!

D. We talk about being "born again"; we OUGHT to talk about it; it is our Lord’s teaching -the revelation of the Gospel; but, the New Birth is the way whereby man is RE-ADMITTED into the potentialities and possibilities of his ORIGINAL CREATION!

1. Man must be viewed as the very "offspring of Deity"!

2. But, we have, through sin, LOST OUR BIRTHRIGHT-and, with it, our sense of relationship with God, and the powers inherent in that relationship.

3. Salvation comes in our RESTORATION to that which has been lost -that each of us may FIND and REALIZE experimentally the TRUE MEANING OF LIFE!

4. THIS is God’s care for man - as symbolized in His very NAME!

What Practical Bearing Ought this to Have on Our Living?

I. IF WE USE THE NAME OF GOD, let us make sure that we HALLOW IT instead of PROFANING it; there is the terrible possibility of our profaning that holy name while IMAGINING that we are hallowing it.

A. The name of God is not profaned so terribly by the man from the slum - born with the language of vulgarity on his lips - as by the one who prays in the house of God, but fails to recognize that the hallowing of God’s name involves RIGHT ATTITUDES toward his brother, his sister, and his fellow men! To USE the Lord’s name, or His word, as a WEAPON for forcing others into a mold of our own making, is to PROFANE His holy name!

B. TO "HALLOW" GOD’S NAME IS:

1. To REVERENCE His character.

2. To defend His honor, and

3. To OBEY His authority.

C. THE REAL TEST COMES IN ONE’S ATTITUDE TOWARD HIS FELLOW MEN. We hallow God’s name when we respect one another, care for one another, and endeavor to lovingly SERVE one another.

D. One of the most difficult commandments in the entire New Testament is that which admonishes: "Honor ALL men!"

II. THOUGH ONE EMPLOYS THE WORDS OF THE MODEL PRAYER, in expressing the desire to "hallow" God’s name, while holding contempt within his heart for some other person, THAT HOLY NAME IS PROFANED IN THE VERY ACT OF PRAYING!

Contempt of another person, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, is NOT Christianity; it is a PROFANING OF THE NAME - the character, honor and authority OF GOD!

III. BECAUSE ISRAEL HAD NEGLECTED JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS - component parts of LOVE - God said "I will give you to the liberty of the sword, and pestilence and famine!"

IV. If the covenant nation so defaces, as to obliterate, the divine image and superscription upon their national character - thrcu:71 h e. scandalous neglect of humanity-THEN GOD WILL REMINT THE COIN in the furnace of affliction! (James 5:1-6; 1 John 3:15-19).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 34". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-34.html. 1985.