“And to this people you (Jeremiah) shall also say, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city [of Jerusalem] will die by the sword and by famine and by virulent disease. But he who goes outside and surrenders to the [c]Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and his life will be like a prize of war to him. For I have set My face against this city to do harm and not good,” says the Lord. “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire.”’ – Jeremiah 21:8-10
The words are not unlike those of Deuteronomy 11:26-27; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19, but there is something like a solemn irony in their application here. They obviously present themselves, not with the wide spiritual application with which they meet us there, but are to be taken in their lowest and most literal sense. The “way of life” is no longer that way of righteousness which the men of Judah had forsaken, leading to the life of eternal blessedness, but simply submission to the Chaldeans, and the life so gained was one of exile and poverty, if not of bondage also. Elliot
This describes the conditional nature of the covenant. Even covenant Israel had to choose! This is referring to the blessing and cursing (cf. Deuteronomy 27-28). Remember the choice is set in a covenant of grace. This is very similar to Wisdom Literature’s idiom of the “two ways” (cf. Pro. 4:10-19; Jer. 21:8; Matt. 7:13-14). Our choices show who we are! How we respond to life’s inexplicable “in and outs” reveals our spiritual orientation.
Two ways lie before us today – what God said to them, the Spirit repeats to us — the way of life is to follow God’s plan, to surrender to His will and the way of death is to reject His lead and to go our own way.
Life in general is very much the same as driving down the highway. When we encounter various choices in our lives, we too often pass them off as having little importance in terms of the direction of our existence or of the future, but very often they are monumental and even historic in terms of our own particular circumstances and eventual spiritual destination. – Daniel H. King Sr.