Surrender And Live (Jeremiah 38:17-18)

In every battle, there are moments that appear particularly dark for one side and defeat may be imminent. The history of the world is bloodied with these horrific battles such as the battle of Thermopylae and the Alamo. What if at a critical moment, someone rose up on the losing side and said, “God has told me that we must lay down our arms and surrender. If we do, God will grant us mercy and preserve our lives.” There is little doubt that this person would be branded a traitor. Yet, this is what happened thousands of years ago. The Babylonians, the greatest empire of that age, were marching toward Jerusalem to destroy the city and the seat of power of the kingdom of Judah. King Zedekiah attempted to rally his people and resist the invaders. Yet one voice rang out against him, the prophet Jeremiah.

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.’” 

Jeremiah 38:17-18 (NLT)

Why would anyone believe Jeremiah? What he was saying was treasonous! Jeremiah was obeying God and prophesying to the king, yet all refused to believe him. What followed was a tragic outcome for Zedekiah who was captured by the Babylonians as he was attempting to flee Jerusalem.

The king of Babylon made Zedekiah watch as he slaughtered his sons at Riblah. The king of Babylon also slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. Then he gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in bronze chains to lead him away to Babylon. 

Jeremiah 39:6-7 (NLT)

Zedekiah and Judah paid the ultimate price for disobeying God’s command to surrender. While we may never face such an ominous decision, God does command us to obey Him even when it appears that we are facing insurmountable odds. Reconcile with the person who betrayed us. Forgive the business partner who defrauded your company. Why should we obey God when common sense tells us otherwise? Why indeed?

…What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 

1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)

Obedience is the outward confirmation of our true intentions. In the face of despair, God always provides and protects, even when we have given up hope. When we surrender ourselves to God, we live.

Praise God for His continual grace and mercy to all who place their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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