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 mock me.”
But Jeremiah said, “They won’t deliver you. Obey, I beg you, Yahweh’s voice, in that which I speak to you; so it will be well with you, and your soul will live. But if you refuse to go out, this is the word that Yahweh has shown me: ‘Behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house will be brought out to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women will say,
“Your familiar friends have turned on you,
and have prevailed over you.
Your feet are sunk in the mire,
they have turned away from you.”
They will bring out all your wives and your children to the Chaldeans. You won’t escape out of their hand, but will be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. You will cause this city to be burned with fire.’ ”
One of the most wicked things we can do is to fail to do anything. It is often called the sin of omission. It’s especially deceptive because we tend to think that we aren’t doing anything wrong, simply because we aren’t do anything at all. That’s the situation that God put king Zedekiah in. It’s pretty obvious that God was well aware of the fact that Zedekiah was more afraid of the people than he was of God’s word. All God had to do was set up this simple situation. King Zedekiah had the choice to surrender to Babylon and save Jerusalem and his family, or to remain silent and allow his family to be taken and the city to be burned. God makes it clear here that by simply doing nothing, Zedekiah would “cause this city to be burned with fire.”
The reason that Zedekiah gave for not surrendering, was that he was afraid of the Jews who had already defected to Babylon. If this is true, the King actually distrusted his own people more than the Babylonians! I think that Zedekiah was, what we would call today, paranoid. God didn’t call this a disease. He called it sin and we know why. Zedekiah chose to believe his own thoughts rather than to believe the word of God. I believe that the Bible is clear on this. When we choose to trust in our own understanding, we will eventually go crazy. God had clearly directed the king’s path if only he would have stopped leaning on his own understanding.
Notice how wicked this sin of omission is. The one who commits it chooses to continue in sin for a season at the expense of the lives of those around him. The king could have saved the lives of his own family and the families of many other people in the city. He could have even preserved the temple and the city walls that would later have to be rebuilt, but because he decided to lean on his own understanding, his fear lead to self protection which lead to mass destruction. May God help us to stop leaning on our own understanding and help us to rely on God so that we can become a blessing rather than a curse.