Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.’ ”
And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me.”
But Jeremiah said, “They shall not deliver you. Please, obey the voice of the LORD which I speak to you. So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live. But if you refuse to surrender, this is the word that the LORD has shown me: ‘Now behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be surrendered to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say:
“Your close friends have set upon you
And prevailed against you;
Your feet have sunk in the mire,
And they have turned away again.”
‘So they shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans. You shall not escape from their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire.’” (Jeremiah 38:17-23)
Zedekiah was the last king of Judah and the last descendent of David to ever rule in Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar placed him on the throne after conquering Jerusalem in 597 BC (see 2 Kings 24:17). Despite what God told him through Jeremiah this day, Zedekiah decided to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. The result was just what God had warned: Nebuchadnezzar attacked and Zedekiah tried to run away. But he was captured. Nebuchadnezzar then executed his sons just before blinding him. Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar took Zedekiah in chains to Babylon (see 2 Kings 25:1-7). Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem and its temple to the ground. The people of God spent the next seventy years in captivity.
Zedekiah could have spared himself all these horrors. His people did not have to suffer. But instead, he decided not to believe God. Instead, he believed he could maneuver things to his liking, get the Egyptians to help him, and somehow stand against the Babylonians. He didn’t like what God’s will for him was and assumed he could make his life turn out better than what God had planned for him. Why? He didn’t believe that God really loved him.