Later, King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and had him brought to the third entrance of the Temple of God. The king said to Jeremiah, "I'm going to ask you something. Don't hold anything back from me."
Jeremiah said, "If I told you the whole truth, you'd kill me. And no matter what I said, you wouldn't pay any attention anyway."
Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah right there, but in secret, "As sure as God lives, who gives us life, I won't kill you, nor will I turn you over to the men who are trying to kill you."
So Jeremiah told Zedekiah, "This is the Message from God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: 'If you will turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, you will live, this city won't be burned down, and your family will live.
But if you don't turn yourself over to the generals of the king of Babylon, this city will go into the hands of the Chaldeans and they'll burn it down. And don't for a minute think there's any escape for you.'"
King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "But I'm afraid of the Judeans who have already deserted to the Chaldeans. If they get hold of me, they'll rough me up good."
Jeremiah assured him, "They won't get hold of you. Listen, please. Listen to God's voice. I'm telling you this for your own good so that you'll live.
But if you refuse to turn yourself over, this is what God has shown me will happen:
Picture this in your mind - all the women still left in the palace of the king of Judah, led out to the officers of the king of Babylon, and as they're led out they are saying: "'They lied to you and did you in, those so-called friends of yours; And now you're stuck, about knee-deep in mud, and your "friends," where are they now?'
"They'll take all your wives and children and give them to the Chaldeans. And you, don't think you'll get out of this - the king of Babylon will seize you and then burn this city to the ground."
Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Don't let anyone know of this conversation, if you know what's good for you.
If the government officials get wind that I've been talking with you, they may come and say, 'Tell us what went on between you and the king, what you said and what he said. Hold nothing back and we won't kill you.'
If this happens, tell them, 'I presented my case to the king so that he wouldn't send me back to the dungeon of Jonathan to die there.'"
And sure enough, all the officials came to Jeremiah and asked him. He responded as the king had instructed. So they quit asking. No one had overheard the conversation
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)