CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 21.
Now that Jeremiah has been released from the stocks, the people continue to mock him and often hurt him. However, when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, threatens to attack Israel and Judah, the people still do not understand that this is exactly what Isaiah and Jeremiah have been prophesying; neither do they connect that this is in consequence to their own behavior. However, they do know Jeremiah can sometimes see the future, so King Zedekiah sends his false priest to ask Jeremiah what will happen (verse 1). Except when they ask Jeremiah about what will happen, they only want Jeremiah to get the Lord on their side (verse 2). They don’t actually want to know the truth, and they have done nothing to repent so that the Lord can help them.
So Jeremiah replies (verse 3) that they have chosen their weapons, and their own weapons will destroy them (verse 4). These are consequences of the choices the people themselves have made, and the consequences must play out. The Lord cannot interfere with their agency. The people could still repent and receive the Lord’s help and blessing in enduring the consequences, but the consequences must play out (verse 5). Many people will die (verse 6), and the survivors will be carried away into captivity under Babylon (verse 7).
There is no more discussion, Jeremiah says. The Lord has offered them life by obedience, or the destruction that comes as a natural result of their own rebellion (verse 8). Those who reject the Lord and His prophets, who are sent to help them people live well and prosper, will instead see destruction and captivity (verse 9). Freedom comes from using agency well, from using the ability to choose to follow the Lord’s way that keeps the people safe and happy; bondage comes from choosing their own way and suffering the consequences (verse 9). The people have chosen destruction, and so destruction will come (verse 10).
The Lord tells Jeremiah to physically touch the king’s palace (verse 11) and declare that the word of the Lord has been delivered, and that the people have chosen destruction as judged by their own behavior and choices (verse 12). Because they have not chosen to side with the Lord, they are on their own against their enemies (verse 13), and the Lord will deliver the consequences the people have chosen (verse 14).