CHOOSING the WAY of LIFE over DEATH: "Now you shall say to this people, Thus says the Lord: "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him. For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good," says the Lord. "It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire." (Jer 21:8-10)
The prophet Jeremiah delivered three messages from God - the first message was to the king Zedekiah (vv. 1–7), the second message was to the people (vv. 8–10) and the third message was to the members of the house of David (vv. 11–14). The passage above was God’s message to the people giving them the choice between life and death. Those who would surrender to the Babylonians when they come to capture Jerusalem would live, but those who would resist and fight would perish. Thus, the people had two clear choices: “the way of life and the way of death” (v. 8). Those who chose to remain in the city would die, but those who would surrender to the enemy besieging Jerusalem would live (v. 9).
Thus, Jeremiah advised the people to surrender to the Babylonians to save their lives. This counsel was not received well by many people who were flattered by false prophets to fight the enemy and hold on to the end by trusting in their own strength. Even though Jeremiah was not a popular preacher, but his message was truly from God. Those who listened to him and made the right choice would live, but those who resisted the word of God would perish.
This choice of life and death given to the Israelites reminds us of a similar choice given by Moses, the man of God to the Israelites before he died. This is what Moses had said then: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deut 30:19-20)
In our present age, we too have a choice to make in our lives: choosing to travel in the way of life or death. The way of life is narrow, unpopular and not accepted by the worldly people, but this way will lead us to God. On the other hand, the way of death is popular and many travel this way, but they will finally end up in destruction. Let’s obey what Jesus has commanded us: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matt 7:13-14)
Let us examine our hearts today and ask Him to lead us in the way of life: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-24)