One humanitarian aspect of the Mosaic law was its provision for indebted people. Those who fell on hard times and became “slaves” (indentured servants) to their own people were to be set free after six years.
Setting their own people free was a command of God for Jews. But, as the people cared more about themselves and less about God, they were less likely to forgive debts and debtors. And so, they kept their brothers and sisters in bondage longer than six years.
Eventually, such disobedience to God’s law caught up with them. God allowed other nations to overwhelm them, removing all of the nation except for a few cities. When King Nebuchadnezzar was at the gates, they finally decided to let these servants free (Jer 34:8-10).
Their outward change of heart was not genuine, because when the Babylonians turned away they took their slaves back (v.11,21-22). As a result, God said He would set all of them free – but it would be freedom to be slain by the sword, by disease, and by famine.
No doubt, at times we do the same thing. We only repent when the consequences of our sin catch up to us. As soon as consequences seem to cease, we go right back to our sin.
May God work deeply in us so that we would live holy lives not to avoid consequences and chastening but to honour and glorify God. May we do what we out of love for and loyalty to God rather than just to avoid trouble.