Summary: Being told the only way you could survive a battle is to surrender would be challenging. This is what Jeremiah told the Jews before Jerusalem was destroyed, and God is telling the us the same today. Do you want to survive spiritual war? You must surrender
Jeremiah 38:2-6 Jeremiah's message and the reaction
"Thus says the LORD: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live. He shall have his life as a prize of war, and live. 3 Thus says the LORD: This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and be taken." 4 Then the officials said to the king, "Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm." 5 King Zedekiah said, "Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you." 6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud."
Jeremiah is preaching a message to the people. The message: Remain in the city and die of sword, famine, and pestilence. Go over to the Chaldeans and live as a reward because the city WILL be given into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar's army to destroy it.
Just put yourself in the position of one of the Jewish soldiers that were getting ready to fight the Babylonians. How would you feel if you heard Jeremiah preaching this? Encouraged to fight? What if you were just one of the people of the city who were hoping that the men of war could hold off the Babylonians and win the battle?
This seems to be the concern over some who heard his message. They went to king Zedekiah to tell him how Jeremiah's preaching was weakening the people and the men of war, and that he deserves to die because of it.
Zedekiah allows them to do to Jeremiah what they want, so they lower Jeremiah into a dungeon to die there. (some versions refer to it as a cistern or a pit).
Zedekiah would later allow Jeremiah to be taken from the dungeon, and he would ask Jeremiah for the word of the Lord And Jeremiah gives him the same message:
"Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand." 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me." 20 Jeremiah said, "You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the Lord has shown to me: 22 Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and were saying, " ' Your trusted friends have deceived you and prevailed against you; now that your feet are sunk in the mud, they turn away from you.' 23 All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire."(Jer 38:17-23)