Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Jeremiah 21:8 -- On Choosing Life over Death

"And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death."
Jeremiah 21:8

In this chapter, the king sends people to Jeremiah, asking him to petition the Lord for protection and victory, and instead Jeremiah has to tell them that the Lord is going to be fighting on the side of the Babylonians.  This sounds kind of mean to us, but let me give you a little bit of context.  In previous chapters, God had asked Jeremiah to preach to the people that they needed to repent, and in return they made plans to kill the prophet.  Jeremiah tells them that unless they repent that they are going to be destroyed, and they beat him up and put him in stocks.  And, mind you, these weren't small problems that they needed to repent of.  They had abandoned God, and were sacrificing children to idols.  And now, when an army is actually threatening them, they rethink their position.  And so God basically says, hey... I warned you, and continued to warn you.  Destruction it is.

The cool thing about this verse is that even after all of that, God built in a way for them to survive.  He has Jeremiah tell them that if they stay in the city they will be killed, but if they leave, they will live.  Being alive and still having the chance to repent and change is a very big deal in terms of God's judgement.   But of course, to them it probably didn't seem like a huge mercy, because they were facing the prospect of losing everything.

We are similar.  God warns us and warns us, but until it actually comes down to facing some consequences, we rarely listen.  What we have to realize is that God is giving us the opportunity to choose life and death the entire time.  We can choose God, which is synonymous with life and happiness and opportunity, or we can choose anything else, which is synonymous with spiritual death, regret, and trapping ourselves with limited options.  Today, instead of looking at our choices as though they mattered little because there are no immediate consequences, or because God has protected us from serious consequences in the past, let's remember that all of our choices either lead us to God, or to ruin.  Let's take our choices now just as seriously as the life or death choice in this verse... because they all do lead to life or death.  Let's choose life, right now, before it is forced upon us by circumstances.

No, it still won't be easy.  Sometimes we'll be tempted to get angry at God, or his prophets, instead of changing our lives.  But that choice, as we learn from this story, leads to destruction and death.  Repentance and change and learning to walk in the way of the Lord... that leads to life.  Let's go there instead. :)


  1. Sometimes we have to swallow the bitter pill of repentance with faith that the results in the long-term will be worth the price right now. When we humble ourselves enough to accept that, it opens the door to finding real joy - usually faster than we expected if my own experience is typical.

    BTW - I enjoy your contributions on WikiAnswers. I'm one of the many supervisors over there...

  2. Agree. It isn't always easy to see past the short-term, but with Faith, God can help us see the better choices and choose more happiness and peace, long-term. Thanks for stopping by. :)


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