One day King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and had him brought to the third entrance of the LORD ’s Temple. “I want to ask you something,” the king said. “And don’t try to hide the truth.”
Jeremiah said, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.”
So King Zedekiah secretly promised him, “As surely as the LORD our Creator lives, I will not kill you or hand you over to the men who want you dead.”
Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “This is what the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down.
But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground.’”
“But I am afraid to surrender,” the king said, “for the Babylonians may hand me over to the Judeans who have defected to them. And who knows what they will do to me!”
Jeremiah replied, “You won’t be handed over to them if you choose to obey the LORD . Your life will be spared, and all will go well for you.
But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the LORD has revealed to me:
All the women left in your palace will be brought out and given to the officers of the Babylonian army. Then the women will taunt you, saying, ‘What fine friends you have! They have betrayed and misled you. When your feet sank in the mud, they left you to your fate!’
All your wives and children will be led out to the Babylonians, and you will not escape. You will be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city will be burned down.”
Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Don’t tell anyone you told me this, or you will die!
My officials may hear that I spoke to you, and they may say, ‘Tell us what you and the king were talking about. If you don’t tell us, we will kill you.’
If this happens, just tell them you begged me not to send you back to Jonathan’s dungeon, for fear you would die there.”
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the king’s officials came to Jeremiah and asked him why the king had called for him. But Jeremiah followed the king’s instructions, and they left without finding out the truth. No one had overheard the conversation between Jeremiah and the king.