Jeremiah 34: 18-20 “Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf, I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”
A little backstory is helpful here. When God brought Israel into the Promised Land, one of the laws he gave was that they were to free all of their Hebrew slaves every seven years (probably as a way of limiting economic inequality). Israel did not follow this law for centuries, but then in the time of Jeremiah, they repented and made a covenant (just like Abram’s, with split animals and everything) to free their slaves.
The only difference between this covenant and Abram’s was that the people who violated this covenant actually walked through the split animals. Shortly after this covenant, however, they changed their minds and re-enslaved everyone they had set free. So God sent Jeremiah to deliver today’s passage.
God’s response to the broken covenant highlights how serious these covenants are and points to the eventual necessity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God’s grace for us and for Abram isn’t just the result of looking the other way, but is actually possible only because of his astounding willingness to fulfill both halves of the covenant.
Spend some time reflecting on the supreme love of Jesus today and on his willingness to fulfill the covenant for us.