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"The Way of Life and the Way of Death"
Jeremiah 21

Wednesday AM Bible Study
January 12, 2005

Jeremiah 21:1-23:8 contains a prophetic word to the house of David. It begins with God's words to the current king over the house of David, Zedekiah; and it culminates in God's promise of the coming of a righteous King, Jesus - who will be called "The LORD Our Righteousness" (23:6).

The first half of this prophetic section deals with the current situation; and the second half deals with God's long-range plan. This morning, we'll focus on the first half, contained in chapter 21.

Judgment was coming. It was now unavoidable. God, in this chapter, confronts the present king and the present situation. He presents to the people they way of life - which would be to submit to the coming Babylonians as a part of God's judgment, and so live; and the way of death - which would be to resist surrender to God's judgment through the Babylonians, and so die. It illustrates an important spiritual principle: that they way of life comes through submitting to God's plan of judgment for sin. On the other side of it is life.

A. Zedekiah is the king of the final exile to Babylon. He sends his representatives in a phony appeal to God before Jeremiah. The man Pashhur is not the same as the Pashhur of chapter 20; but he is clearly an enemy of God's plan.

B. Jeremiah does not give them the news they were hoping for. Later on, these words will be the cause for Jeremiah's life being put in danger by being thrown alive into a cistern (38:1ff).

II. A WORD TO THE PEOPLE (vv. 8-10).

A. God, as it were, goes over the king's head and speaks directly to the people. His appeal to them is to choose the way of life, which is submission to the Babylonians (see also Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

B. He warns that those who remain will die, because He has already set His face against the city. It will most definitely be given over to the Babylonians.


A. God then speaks to the whole house of David. He calls them to rule righteously over the people - which, by Zedekiah's time, they no longer did (see the history outlined in chapter 22).

B. Because of the evil rule of the kings, God's judgment was about to fall on the whole land.

* * * * * * * * * *

An important spiritual lesson we can learn from this is that submission to the judgment of God for sin is the way of life, and that resistance against it is the way of death. God's promised judgment upon Judah because of its sin; and if they submitted to His judgment through Babylon, they would live. Similarly, God promises judgment upon our sin; and that judgment fell upon His Son Jesus on the cross.

God sets the way of life and the way of death before each one of us. If we resist God's judgment displayed on the cross - if we insist that we're not that bad, and that we didn't need anyone to die for our sins, we will die in our sins. But if we submit to God's condemnation of our sins, and the judgment for them at the cross - if we confess our sins and believe on the cross of Jesus where those sins were paid for, we will live.

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