In this Blog’s post we are going to share a Sermon; which delivered by a friend from the given Text Jeremiah 34:8-22; on the Topic of “Call for Liberation”. Let’s continue to read his Sermon.
When I was between 6-10 years old; my grandmother told me about the Santals tradition and history; and she used to sing a traditional song that depicted the history of Santal’s oppression; which known as a form of lamentation song of Santals; the words go like this:
“Campa gar do lilibici,
Badoli, Koenda likan gorhon
Dayage campa badoli koenda,
Dayage gar bon bageada”.
The meaning of the song is that, “Champa town was beautiful, natural serenity. Badoli, Koenda were wonderful which was not less than heaven. We escaped from the beautiful Champa and wonderful cities”.
A brief Santal’s history (Liberation)
I did not properly know what the background of this song was, till I came to Benagaria; which is in Jharkhand for my B.Th. studies. It is there that I read about Santal’s history. This santal tribe is one of the Adivasis Tribes and Cae-Champa was a place. There the santal people had made their towns according to their clans.
Each clan had one town. They have 12 clans: kisku, murmu, marandi, hembrom, hasda, soren, tudu, baskye, besra, chore, pauria and bedea. According to their social structure they had been appointed separate duties. They believe in Supreme Being, which they call THAKOR JIU, but they did not worship idols. The kisku clan was the ruler clan of all Santal people and kisku was king.
The kisku king was defeated by other nation; and a new king came to rule, his name was Madho Singh. When Madho Singh was the king; he started dominion and persecuted the Santals. So, most of them could not bear the oppression and fled from the place and went away to settle in different places; because of this event, today Santals scattered and living in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, west-Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and; Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Oppressed people in India
Today, not only Santals, but all the Adivasis; Tribals, and Dalits are oppressed economically, socially, physically, religiously, spiritually and politically. These people are seeking to be released from their suffering; they want liberation from the oppression.
The word liberation or freedom is an amazing description of the biblical idea of salvation. In the Bible, the word salvation means the movement or result of deliverance, in the Old Testament it has a tendency to consult the escape of God’s people from their enemies; and specifically the getaway of the country of Israel from the bondage of Egypt and Babylon.
In the New Testament, it refers to deliverance from the power of evil, from sin, and from death. The ministry of Jesus He announced the good news of liberty for the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.
Call for Liberation
I will emphasize on two points from above sermon’s Topic:
- 1) Liberty from oppression and
- 2) Liberty as a Right
The text which we have read, tells us about the warning to King Zedekiah and people of Judah with severe judgements for annulling the release of the Hebrew men-and maid-servants. Jeremiah prophesied in four periods under Josiah (627-609 BCE), under Jehoiakim (608-597 BCE) under Zedekiah (598-587 BCE) and between 587 BCE and his death. Regarding the date of this passage, it is accurately revealed by the historical situation in which it is set.
This prophecy belongs to the first duration of the final siege of Jerusalem, probable the 9th year of Zedekiah the king. That year became 589-588. Whilst, the king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and all his army and all of the country of earth and all the people beneath his dominion were fighting in opposition to Jerusalem and all its cities.
Liberty from oppression (Liberation)
The prophet Jeremiah predicts to Zedekiah the taking and burning of the metropolis; with his personal non-violent loss of life and honourable burial; which explains in Jeremiah 34:1-7, after that Zedekiah made a proclamation to the of Jerusalem that everyone has to set free their Hebrew slaves, male and female so that nobody has to preserve some other Judean in slavery. And that they obeyed all of the officers and all the folks that had entered into covenant might set their slaves unfastened, in order that they would no longer be enslaved again. They obeyed and set them free.
But it isn’t always clear whether or not or now not the Jews freed all their slaves; or only individuals who were being saved in bondage contrary to the Law of Moses; but anyhow, the quantity of releases must had been tremendous, as all of the princes and the people enter into the covenant to do so. This was prompted partially by means of a form of authentic humane subject, spotting that in any such risky time every man or woman had to look to do the great for him or herself.
Moreover it had been perpetrated out of a preference to desert duty for feeding and shielding such enslaved man or woman. The discharge of slaves was also a strategic step to make sure allegiance to the king, at the prevailing time of war. Regardless of the purpose for the release however there has been nothing honourable on this behavior of the Hebrew People.
However afterwards they have become around and took back the male and woman slaves those that they had let out; and once more the phrase of God came to the Jeremiah, and prophet speaks in God’s speech, “I made a covenant together with your ancestors after I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery”. Right here God’s covenant is faithfulness, upon which God did not falter; but Zedekiah’s covenant changed into unfaithfulness and upon which he falters. The verse 14 is our textual content, these days costs provision of jubilee in Torah.
This covenant law of God come to be very particular and smooth, that the ones of their non-public nation need to no longer be held in servitude above seven years. But, when they had served one apprenticeship, they ought to be discharged and have their liberty; despite the fact that they had supplied themselves into servitude for the price in their money owed; or even though they had sold by the judges for the punishment of their crimes. This became the primary of the judicial legal guidelines that God gave them (Exodus 21:).
Now, question is that, why does Jeremiah prophecy to King Zedekiah and officers and people of the Judah to set frees their slaves?
Genesis: 15:13-14 give us this answer; when God has made covenant with Abraham, before that, God said to him” your offspring shall be aliens in Egypt and shall be oppress for four hundred years; but I will bring you with great possession”, and God had done so; following which God had prohibited lifelong, involuntary slavery among Jews because God had redeemed them, (Deut.15:15). God had stretched out his mighty arm to set a people free, how could God now let them be enslaved again? God does not want the people to be in oppression and slavery but wants them to live in liberty.
Liberty as a Right
In verses, 14c-22 Jeremiah predicts for the king and people of Judah that God would punish them; because they are unable to obey God’s will. Prophet says to them that their ancestors were disobedient to God’s will, and now they had mocked God by their hypocritical covenant; they profaned the name of God by invoking his holy name upon inaction which they had no intention of honouring.
It was an inhuman, unfeeling crime against innocent and defenseless people; it was a crime against both humans and God, and it was a crime against their wicked state; which suffered the punishment due to their conduct. So, because of their unfaithfulness, God would give them sword, pestilence, and famine. Thus there was no way that the king and his advisers would be exempted from association with the crime; and God submits them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and their cities became desolate.
Here we see that those who have power and authorities oppressed the poor; and because of this reason, God announced punishment upon them. But God’s presence is always with poor people. And later the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar took all the people from Jerusalem to Exile except the poor (2 king 24:14).
Through the law God clearly establishes that God intends the people to live a life in freedom; the law establishes the fact that liberty is not a charity of the powerful but the right of the oppressed.
God in his affirming action defends this very right of the people kept in slavery and oppression.
Today, when we see National Crime report; we find many Adivasi children and women have trafficked outside of the state and forced into child abuse and sexual abuse; the Government through its Forest Act has taken away many Adivasi people’s lands from their hands; Adivasis are dying without proper medical care in the tea gardens; young innocent Adivasi girls are working in other people’s houses because of poverty.
In Assam Adivasi, people are facing intermittent ethnic violence and more people killed. They are not getting a good education because of poverty and government apathy. They face oppression and humiliation in innumerable ways. Adivasis are indigenous people of India but they treat as slaves, their life are worse than slaves. The constitution of India totally abolished Slavery, but still, there is much bondage of slavery. Right and freedom for them exist only in the books and in the theory, but in practice it is absent.
As evident in today’s passage and the liberation of Hebrew people in Exodus; our God is a Just God, righteous, and a liberator God. God does not desire human beings to be treated as slaves and to live in oppression. God loves human beings and because of that God, Himself became Human. We as Christians are a witness to the fact that Jesus Christ the incarnated one is the liberator; the voice of the voiceless and the bringer of freedom.
Jesus Christ, the persecuted and the mutilated one, demonstrates His solidarity with their suffering; Christ declares His manifesto of liberation and His preference for the poor and the oppressed; and we are called to extend the ministry of Christ. We call to His ministry of liberation. The call is to stand in solidarity with the suffering people; to raise the issues of concern along with them, and join hands with them to resist and challenge those in power.