Text: Jeremiah 36
If I were to give today’s Bible study a title, it would be, “God’s Indestructible Word.” In today’s chapter of Jeremiah, you will see an attempt by King Jehoiakim to destroy the Word of God. Why did he want to destroy it? Because he did not like what it said.
It is the same today. Many false prophets and rebels are trying to destroy the Word of God by any means possible. The rebels politicize it and weaponize it to inspire revolutions.
The false prophets twist it until it is unrecognizable, preach another Jesus (2Corinthians 11:4), delete scriptures that disagree with their views — I could go on endlessly, for they are endlessly foolish and arrogant.
And today’s infants in Christ (1Corinthians 3:1) love their words! So they never bother themselves to check the Word of God to see if what they are being taught is true.
The false prophets and rebels are fools, for it is a fool’s errand to attempt to destroy the truth of the Word of God! His Word stands forever (Psalm 119:89) and will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).
Do you not know from even a brief review of history? He cannot be silenced by man.
Many such fools physically destroy Bibles, or rewrite the Word of God so it contains nothing but ear-pleasing words, or they banish, imprison or kill the Lord’s Spirit-filled bondservants who dare speak the unedited Word of God.
But His Word remains forever, O fools! The One who authored the Word can effortlessly speak it through another one of his Spirit-filled bondservants whom you have not yet banished, imprisoned or killed.
Verses 1-3 —
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. 3 Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
At this point, Jeremiah had been prophesying for 22 years — eighteen years during the reign of King Josiah, and four years under Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim.
So it took about a year for Jeremiah to dictate all of those prophecies to Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe, and then sit with Baruch to make sure the completed scroll was error-free.
When the LORD said, “Perhaps” in Verse 3, He knew full well that they would not turn back to Him. So the “perhaps” in Verse 3 meant that through the reading of all the words He had given Jeremiah, He was giving them another chance to repent.
If Judah heeded all those exhortations and warnings from Him, and they all turned from their evil ways, He would forgive them. If not, all that He had spoken would come to pass. All — every man — had to turn back in order for the LORD to forgive them.
Verses 4-6 —
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him. 5 Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am restricted; I cannot go into the house of the LORD. 6 So you go and read from the scroll which you have written at my dictation the words of the LORD to the people in the LORD’S house on a fast day. And also you shall read them to all the people of Judah who come from their cities.”
So Jeremiah called Baruch, and Baruch wrote all the prophecies the LORD gave Jeremiah, at Jeremiah’s dictation. Then Jeremiah commanded Baruch to go and speak them, because Jeremiah was imprisoned.
Jeremiah specified that Baruch was to speak all the words of the scroll on a fast day which would be declared in the future. In the days of Jeremiah, a fast was declared only if there was an emergency. In such a case, all of Judah would come to Jerusalem to participate in the fast. What would the emergency be?
Judah would hear a report that the Babylon army was crossing the border into Judah, having overrun the coastal Philistine city of Ashkelon which was located on the border between Philistia and Judah, and was only 39 miles from Jerusalem (see Feinberg in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary).
Verses 7-8 —
Jeremiah continued speaking to Baruch, saying —
“Perhaps their supplication will come before the LORD (that is, they might pray to Him, begging for His mercy), and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the LORD has pronounced against this people.” 8 Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book (scroll) the words of the LORD in the LORD’S house.
What was the purpose of writing the scroll and reading it to the people on a fast day? That all of Judah would hear the word of the LORD and pray to Him, begging Him for mercy, and that they all would turn from their evil way.
The word of the LORD which was written on the scroll would reveal to them that they were under God’s wrath. They had angered Him by abandoning Him, their Husband (Isaiah 54:5) to follow false gods that are nothingness and emptiness.
So Baruch did all that Jeremiah commanded him to do. When the fast day was declared, he read from the scroll all the words of the LORD, in the temple.
Verses 9-10 —
Now in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the LORD. 10 Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD’S house, to all the people.
In the fifth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, the emergency came to pass and the people — not the king — proclaimed the fast day, just as Jeremiah had told Baruch. As I have said, the Babylonian army was about to cross from the Philistine border city of Ashkelon into Judah, and overrun the cities of Judah as it marched toward Jerusalem.
So Baruch read from the scroll, in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah. He would have been a Levite, a minister to the LORD, and likely was a scribe, like his father.
The chamber was in the upper court, at the entrance of the New Gate of the temple of the LORD. So all the people who had gathered for the fast day heard the words of the scroll, just as Jeremiah had commanded Baruch.
Verses 11-12 —
Now when Micaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard all the words of the LORD from the book, 12 he went down to the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber. And behold, all the officials were sitting there — Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the other officials.
Gemariah’s son Micaiah then went down to tell the king’s officials what he had just heard. The king’s scribe and all the officials were there, and heard his report.
Verses 13-15 —
Micaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read from the book to the people. 14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, “Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read to the people and come.” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and went to them. 15 They said to him, “Sit down, please, and read it to us.” So Baruch read it to them.
Micaiah spoke all the words he had heard. Remember, Baruch had read 22 years worth of prophecies, so his ability to remember them was an act of God.
Then all the king’s officials sent a messenger to Baruch, and ordered him to bring the scroll to them. When he arrived, they asked him to read it to them, and he did.
Verses 16-19 —
When they had heard all the words, they turned in fear one to another and said to Baruch, “We will surely report all these words to the king.” 17 And they asked Baruch, saying, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18 Then Baruch said to them, “He dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink on the book.” 19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “Go, hide yourself, you and Jeremiah, and do not let anyone know where you are.”
The king’s officials turned to each other in fear, for they understood that they were under God’s wrath and that He was angry with them. They asked Baruch if Jeremiah had dictated all the words Baruch had written and then spoken.
Baruch told them that Jeremiah had dictated (spoken) all the words of the scroll to him, and he had written them down on the scroll, as Jeremiah spoke them. Then the king’s officials warned Baruch to go back to Jeremiah, and that they both must hide and let no one know where they were.
Why? They knew the king would want to kill Jeremiah and Baruch, for he would hate their words.
Verses 20-21 —
So they went to the king in the court, but they had deposited the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and they reported all the words to the king. 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king.
The officials did not want to give the scroll to the king, so they left it in the chamber of Elishama, the king’s scribe. But the king found out, and sent Jehudi the messenger to get it. So Jehudi brought the scroll to the king, and read it to him and all his officials who stood beside him.
Verses 22-23 —
Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23 When Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier (hearth).
It was winter, so the king was in his winter palace, warming himself by the brazier, which was like a hearth. The text of the scroll was written in columns, as with all scrolls. Jehudi, the messenger, read a few columns, and then the king cut the scroll with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire, until the whole scroll was consumed!
The king arrogantly burned the entire scroll. Why? He hated the words that were in it. The LORD’s words did not agree with the ear-pleasing lies of his false prophets. They had lied, saying —
— Thus says the LORD, He will give you victory against Babylon! The LORD said it, so it will be done.
— Judah belongs to the LORD, so He will not send you into exile, even though we refuse to repent for worshiping false gods.
— He will not punish us for what we have done as part of worship of our false gods — even offering our live children to be burned in fires to them and setting up idols to them in the temple (see Jeremiah Chapters 7 and 33)!
Verses 24-26 —
Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments (a sign of repentance). 25 Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.
King Jehoiakim and his officials who surrounded him were arrogant. They did not fear the words of the LORD, so they did not tear their garments as a sign of repentance. They refused to repent.
Even though the LORD’s scribes and the king’s officials pleaded for the king not to destroy the scroll, he would not listen to them. He defied the LORD, burning every bit of the scroll. He foolishly thought that since he had destroyed the scroll, the words that were written on it would not come to pass.
Verses 27-28 —
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying, 28 “Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned.”
The LORD then directed Jeremiah to take another scroll and again have Baruch write everything that had been on the first scroll that was burned by the king. The LORD does not stop speaking because someone burns a scroll or book containing His words. He simply speaks them again to His servants, and they write them and speak them and proclaim them again!
Verse 29 —
“And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the LORD, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will make man and beast to cease from it?’”
AsKing Jehoiakim burned the scroll, he asked why Jeremiah had written the words about Babylon overrunning Judah and making it desolate and devoid of man or beast.
Surely, because the LORD said it, His words would come to pass. Death awaited those who refused to obey the LORD’s command to go into exile and live (Jeremiah 27:12, 17, etc.).
Verse 30 —
“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.”
Jehoiakim was killed by the Babylonians during the siege of Jerusalem. His dead body was not buried in the tombs of the kings of Judah. Instead, it was cast out into the open, to rot. It was a shameful end for a shameful king. and what appeared to be the end of the line of King David.
His son ruled for just three months, as a puppet king who served at the whim of Babylon in Judah. Then he was captured and taken into exile. His uncle, Zedekiah, became the last puppet king of Judah. Ever since the day he was taken into exile, there have been no more kings of Judah.
But was the line of King David thereby ended? No. The eternally existent son of God has been a king over Judah and over all the earth. When He was sent by His Father and walked the earth, He was of the natural lineage of King David! And in the future, He will rule forever in the new heavens and new earth (Jeremiah 23:6, Revelation 20:21).
He is king of Kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). The LORD declares it in His Word, and His Word is not only true, but the very embodiment of truth (Psalm 119:160, John 17:17).
Verse 31 —
“I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them — but they did not listen.”
The LORD does not punish the innocent. He punishes those who refuse to listen to and heed His words. He punishes those who attempt to destroy His Word, like King Jehoiakim.
The king’s descendants and servants would also be punished for joining him in worshiping false gods and performing the terrible acts to supposedly placate them and gain favor with them. They would all go into exile or die trying to escape.
Why does the LORD hate false gods and punish those who worship them? They are nothingness and emptiness, and those who worship them become like them (Psalm 115:4-8). Therefore, He punished His people who left Him to follow them.
He punishes those who refuse to listen to His exhortations to repent and His warnings of the consequences if they do not. He does not warn and exhort them just once, but in His great mercy, He exhorts and warns them again and again.
The purpose of His punishment is that they would repent. He does not desire that any perish, but that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9).
It is His mercy to offer today’s infants in Christ the opportunity to repent for their worship of the false god of self that false teachers, preachers and prophets teach in today’s so-called church.
Verse 32 —
Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.
Just as the LORD commanded, Jeremiah dictated the LORD’s words to his scribe, Baruch. He dictated the words that were in the scroll that the king had burned. And the LORD also gave him many similar words.
The king burned the first scroll to ashes, thinking he could erase the truth and continue to believe his own version of it, without fear of judgment. As I have said, only fools do such things.
Exhortation to those who destroy His Word
As I said at the beginning, many arrogantly attempt to destroy the Word of God today. Who does it, and how do they attempt to destroy it?
Those in positions of power in today’s unrepentant church attempt to destroy the Word of God. And their followers love their words! And as I have said, politicians twist it to make it fit their political agenda, and rebels weaponize it to cause revolutions.
But such fools neglect to mention that when He walked the earth, Jesus Christ never spoke a word against Rome, nor did He rebel against their cruel, harsh, unfair rule over His people. Why?
The freedom He promises is true freedom from the sin which enslaves all mankind (John 8:31-36)!
If you continue in His word, you will know the truth by experiencing it, for you will obey Him and stay and wait to be filled with the Holy Spirit as He commands. And you will rejoice that His truth has set you completely free from slavery to sin, for when you are filled, He crucifies your sin nature which prompted you to sin, and purifies your heart (Galatians 5:24, Acs 15:4). And then He and the Father and the Spirit permanently and fully indwell you.
That is true freedom. But today’s foolish leaders, teachers and prophets will not teach it, even if they have read about it in the Word of God. Why? It disagrees with their narrative.
So they foolishly choose to deceive themselves and you, O infant, with their lies. By lying to themselves and you, they reveal that their father is Satan, the father of lies, says Jesus (John 8:44).
Therefore, turn from those who foolishly try to destroy the Word of God! Turn to Jesus Christ’s Spirit-filled bondservants who speak the truth of the Word of God, and teach His words.
If you continue in His Word that His bondservants speak, He says you will personally experience freedom from slavery to sin, no matter what social status you occupy. He equally welcomes everyone who will believe and stay and obey — every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:18)!
Lord Jesus, continue to give me words to speak boldly and bluntly (Ephesians 6:20) to today’s church that is filled with liars and those who love their lies. The purpose is that they would repent. Make it so, I pray. Amen.