Thursday, February 7, 2013
abusing people profanes God's name
You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.
As part of the economy of Israel the LORD allowed the Jews to practice limited indentured servitude. The extremely poor were allowed to contract themselves into slavery. But the owner of the slave was bound to release the person from servitude after seven years. This release was not happing and for whatever reason, Zedekiah the king made a royal decree to immediately release them. The people followed the king's command (and thus the Lord's stipulation in the Law) but only temporarily. When they found they could not bear to be without their slaves, they forcibly enslaved them once again.
God was not pleased with this "unrepentance" and quickly sent a message on the lips of Jeremiah the prophet denouncing these activities. It was another reason for the coming sack of Jerusalem and march into Babylonian exile.
God told them that their abuse of these poor people with forced enslavement was a sin against Him. They had profaned God's holy name by their actions. There is a principle here of social responsibility. To abuse people is to besmirch the holiness of God. It is unholy to hurt people and to place your selfish desires above their ability to live freely within God's design.