Jeremiah 34:1-22 & 21:1-14
21:8-10 | Catching up with Jeremiah, I like the image he uses in these verses:
And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war. For I have set my face against this city for harm and not for good, declares the Lord: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’
It reminds me of the imagery I tried to use a while back of sin being a box that we can choose to leave (with God’s help) or stay in and be destroyed with it. God says the same thing in these verses: Jerusalem is that box, and the people can either stay inside and be destroyed when the city is, or they can obey God by surrendering to Ned and submitting to their punishment.
That seems a bleak choice, until we realize that submitting to punishment for our sins is not the same as receiving punishment for our sins. Jesus already received that punishment on the cross. By admitting that we have sinned and confessing our guilt, we accept that Jesus died on the cross in our place, and we wear His righteousness instead. Only by resisting that confession, by staying in the city, are we to face the punishment we didn’t want to admit we deserved.
As He puts it in verse 8, we have been given a choice, life or death, leave the city and surrender or stay and die, heaven or hell. The terms of the decision are clear. It’s like God, through Moses, says in Deut. 30:19: He has set before us life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.