Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life!
In this journey through the book of Jeremiah, we’ve seen God’s attempts to secure the lives of His people in Judah. By the people’s response, we can see that they have lost a true view of God; they believe that He is loyal to them for no reason other than the fact that they have the city of Jerusalem (v. 13). The people have Judah completely disregard the concept of being loyal to their God. In short, they have become proud, believing that God should protect them no matter what.
In this chapter, the king of Judah sends messengers to Jeremiah so that he will intercede for them (v. 1). They want protection from the invading armies of the Babylonians, nothing short of a miracle (v. 2). They expected God to move the way that He did in the past, but that was not what the LORD was planning to do. Jerusalem was already in trouble (v. 9).
It appears as though the people of Judah had gotten caught up in their pride, and they wanted God to save them for their own sake. What the Judeans needed was a reality check; they were not the center of it all. God showed His people a way to safety, giving instructions on how to live. Those instructions, however, were not easy and required an immense amount of faith and trust.
God’s orders sounded crazy, borderline ludicrous. In order to survive the war, they had to surrender. I cannot remember any battle in history that was won via dropping arms and raising hands, but still God instructed His people to wave the white flag. Many of the people at that time had a huge problem accepting that fact. How could they be sure that the Babylonians wouldn’t simply kill them on the spot?
That command had to be a tough one to accept and follow. God’s command to surrender was one that required complete trust. No one wins a fight by giving up. Typically, we hear the concept of “living to fight another day” but from this verse, that doesn’t seem like what God is implying. The situation wasn’t such that it was hopeless and patience would allow the people to eventually overcome. The situation was such that the LORD was the only One who could save them. He was granting the reward of life (v. 9). The people of Judah had to let go of their pride that told them they could handle the situation.
For us, our situation is not that much different. We face the onslaught of our heart’s rebellion against God. In our pride, we feel as though we can overcome and get back to where we should have been all along. It is why pride is such a disgusting thing. It deceives us into thinking that we can handle everything that goes on in this world by ourselves.
Now, I’m not talking about things like surviving grief or overcoming adversity. People may argue that humans have great strength in beating things like this, and maybe we do. What I’m talking about, though, is a grace that overcomes so much more than we realize. God still commands us to surrender our lives to His grace. To lose faith in the work of our hands and put trust in the wounds in His.
He’s fought and won a battle of which we cannot fully understand the gravity. It requires that we surrender and run to Him. Anyone who holes up in a fortress made of human hands will simply be overrun. So, lay your weapons down and put hope in the LORD.