Broken Promise

Glenn Bruggers

READ : Jeremiah 34:8–22

But afterward they turned around and took back the male and female slaves they had set free, and brought them into subjection as slaves. (v. 11)

The city was under siege and the slaves of many Israelites were a liability, for there was no work for them to do. In this moment of great national crisis, when the very existence of the nation was in question, many freed their slaves under outward pretense of religious motive, but actually because it was economically and politically expedient to do so.

Suddenly political fortune changed and the siege was lifted. Fields had to be tilled and other work had to be done. Immediately men reclaimed the slaves they had freed. The falseness of their original action was now apparent. Their promise had been broken and so had the law. They had attempted to buy God’s favor by obeying the law in an outward manner. But the relieving of outward tension revealed the condition of the heart.

It is disturbing to realize how much of religious observance is practiced in an attempt to “buy” God. This passage calls us to reevaluate the motives behind our actions. Do we respond to a great crisis by dropping to our knees, only to forget to pray a few days after the crisis is past? Do we attempt to bargain with God? Our fellow men may not always be able to see through our motives, but God does. (originally published April 25, 1964)


Lord, forgive me for the times I have attempted to bargain with you. Amen.