Obedient Strangers & Disobedient Kings

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 35-36, “Obedient Strangers & Disobedient Kings”

When some people hear the word “obedience,” they think of the classic drill sergeant: “When I say, ‘Jump!’ you say ‘How high?’”  That sort of obedience is forced, and although it might be necessary in the military, it sure doesn’t sound too appealing.  Yet that’s exactly what some people think of when they hear that God wants us to obey His word.

God DOES want us to obey, but that’s not the kind of relationship He has in mind for us.  He reaches out to His people in love and grace with His word, and His desire is for us to respond.  Not out of grudging obligation, or out of beaten submission, but that we can experience the full relationship with Him that He desires. 

That was no different with the ancient Jews as it is with us.  God called His people to obey – He called them to turn in repentance…not because God wanted to punish them if they didn’t, but because God wanted to forgive them when they did.  Of course the problem was they didn’t listen.  Gentiles seemed to listen better than the Jews.  They showed more capacity to obey than God’s own people.

That’s a telling lesson, and that’s what God uses to try to get the Jews’ attention.

Jeremiah 35

  • Testing the Rechabites (vss. 11)

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, 2 “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”

  • Take note of the chronology here: “in the days of Jehoiakim…”  This is quite a bit earlier than the last several chapters, which were mainly addressed in the days of Zedekiah…  In the broader culture, Babylon is truly rising as a world power, fighting and defeating Egypt as the main power along the Mediterranean coast.  The captivity is coming, but it hasn’t come yet.
  • Jeremiah is told by God to “go to the house of the Rechabites.”  Who were the Rechabites?  Great question! J  According to the genealogies in 1 Chronicles, the Rechabites were Kenites, aligned with the tribe of Judah.  The Kenites were one of the original 10 tribes in the land of Canaan, but not included among the tribes to be destroyed (at least by the time the Hebrews arrived there).  Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was a Kenite from Midian – apparently they were fairly nomadic throughout all their history.  By the time the Hebrews became the Kingdom of Israel, the Kenites were allowed by God to live among them in peace because they had shown kindness to the Hebrews during their days in the wilderness (1 Sam 15:6).  Although they were technically Gentiles, they seemed to be true God-fearers – worshipping the One True God, though not included in the Abrahamic covenant.  They were sojourners/strangers in the Promised Land, and lived as such.
  • Aside from their heritage, one thing that made the Rechabites unique was a vow they had taken not to drink wine (which will be explained in the text).  Obviously this was known to God, and because the Rechabites had lived this way for so long (by some estimates, up to 300 years), no doubt Jeremiah and others knew this well.  That’s what makes God’s instruction to Jeremiah stand out.  Jeremiah is commanded to call the Rechabites to the temple, and “give them wine to drink.”  As we’ll see, this is a test to see how the Rechabites will respond.
    • Q: Since this is a command of God, is God tempting them to sin?  Obviously according to the culture, drinking wine was not itself a sin (though drunkenness has always been sinful).  But no – God is not tempting them to sin.  God never tempts anyone to sin.  James 1:13–15, “(13) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (14) But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” []  Keep in mind that temptation is not itself a sin; giving into it is.  But when we give in to temptation, that is our own fault; not God’s. 
    • God does not tempt, but He does test.  That’s what He’s doing with the Rechabites, and that is what He sometimes does with us.  He’ll place us in a situation to see what we will do & how we will respond.  Just as students need to be tested, athletes need to be tested, alloys need to be tested, etc., so do God’s people.  We might never know where we need to improve and how dependent we are upon the Lord until we’re placed in a situation that we are absolutely forced to depend upon Him.  Don’t despise the testing of the Lord; just be sure to cling to Him through it.

3 Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, 4 and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. 5 Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, “Drink wine.”

  • Jeremiah was obedient to the command of God.  He details to which of the Rechabites he went, and even the room within the temple in which the test took place.  Jeremiah describes an anteroom of sorts – a chamber of one of the Levites.  Being strangers in the land, obviously the Rechabites would not be allowed into the inner court of the temple or anything like that, but they could still go into certain rooms.  Jeremiah was careful to take them to the locations they were allowed, but nowhere else.  Once there, that’s when he set all kind of wine in front of them. “Bowls full of wine, and cups.”  Apparently there was a lot there!
  • When we stop to think about it, this would have been a pretty difficult test for the Rechabites.  After all, they were taken by the prophet of God into the temple of God, and they are commanded by the prophet specifically to “drink wine.”  Granted, we don’t read of Jeremiah saying, “Thus says the Lord: drink wine,” but even so, the words of the prophet would have carried a lot of weight.  It would be easy for them to think that they had no choice in the matter, and they had to break their vow.
    • We always have a choice.

6 But they said, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. 7 You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.’

  • The Rechabites passed the test!  They recounted the command passed down by their forefather, Jonadab: no wine – no house – no farm – they were to do nothing that tied them down to the land.  Why? They were “sojourners.”  The land was technically not theirs; they were aliens, and they were to live as such.
    • We don’t want to miss the main point of the text, but there’s a bit of wisdom here in regarding how we are to view the things of this life.  As the old hymn says, this world is not our home.  We are also strangers in this place – we are aliens upon the earth, though we are naturally-born citizens as well.  We’ve been given a new citizenship.  We’ve been born into a different family & a different kingdom.  We look forward to the kingdom of heaven. …
    • If that’s the case, then the stuff of this life ought to hold very little value for us. 
  • As for the Rechabites, the point isn’t so much the asceticism or the nomadic life; it’s faithfulness to the command that they had received from their forefather.  See vs. 8…

8 Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. 10 But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

  • They had always been faithful.  One forefather of theirs had spoken hundreds of years earlier (Jonadab lived in the days of Jehu, who brought reform to the northern kingdom of Israel), and they had been obedient to him throughout all their generations.  There was only one area in which things had been somewhat questionable: nomadic living.  They had always “dwelt in tents,” but lately they had settled down somewhat.  See vs. 11…

11 But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, ‘Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.’ So we dwell at Jerusalem.”

  • In the past, the Rechabites had lived nomadically in the land of Judah, but lately they had come to Jerusalem.  They had not disobeyed their forefather, but they were seeking shelter from the Babylonians.  They would be safer behind the walls of the city than out in the open field.  Again – they had not broken their commitment, but things were just slightly different than normal.
  • There ought to be shelter for all people when they come among the people of God.
  • Comparing the Jews with the Rechabites (vss. 12-17)

12 Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying, 13 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?” says the LORD. 14 “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.

  • Sober comparison.  The Gentile Rechabites obeyed the commands of their forefather, even though it was not technically necessary – but the Jewish people refused to obey God, though it was commanded by the “LORD of hosts, the God of Israel.”  The Rechabites were more than willing to heed words that did nothing to bring life or eternal blessing, but the Jews were unwilling to heed the words of Almighty God.  Where was their priority?

15 I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, ‘Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers.’ But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me. 16 Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me.” ’

  • If there is one excuse Israel could not give, it was that God never warned them.  Repeatedly, God had given His word.  They had the written Scriptures from long ago – they had prophets sent to them throughout the generations – they even had prophets speaking the word of God to them in their present generation – and yet they still blatantly ignored God and His command.  God had repeatedly warned them away from idolatry, and the people repeatedly engaged in it.
    • How many times does God have to tell us something before we make the decision to obey Him?
  • The really ironic part of it all is that the Gentiles were more obedient than the Jews.  The Rechabites willingly obeyed Jonadab, but the supposed “holy” children of God refused to obey the God who called them into a relationship with Him.
    • Be careful not to let the world show more morals and obedience than you.

17 “Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.’ ”

  • In response to all of this, God gives His authoritative judgment.  Judah had earned the punishment & “doom” that Jeremiah had repeatedly proclaimed.
  • Why?  Because they ignored God.  God had “called,” but they never “answered.
    • As a parent, one of the worst things is to be ignored.  How much more with God?
  • Promise of blessing (vss. 18-19)

18 And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.” ’ ”

  • The Rechabites had been faithful to their forefather, and God would show Himself faithful to them.  They are promised an eternal blessing & posterity.  Vs. 19 implies that God would somehow give these Gentile sojourners a ministry of some sort, if not simply an everlasting genealogy.
  • God sees faithfulness.  God blesses faithfulness.  Why?  Because God Himself is faithful!

Jeremiah 36

  • Command to write a book (vss. 1-8)

1 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:

  • Note the timeframe.  This is still the reign of “Jehoiakim,” but we’re given a much more specific date.  This is “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim,” which means that this was given in the year that Babylon crushed Egypt in battle and finally gained supremacy over Judah. (Jer 46:2)  God had given other prophecies to Jeremiah that year as well (Ch 25) – this was an active year of ministry, with God reaching out multiple times to the rebellious people in the nation.  (Ch 35 just showed how God repeatedly reached out to the people; here’s a direct example!)

2 “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

  • God commands Jeremiah to write a “book.”  As vs. 2 mentions, the book is actually a “scroll” – leaf-bound books as we know them today did not come about for several centuries (shortly after the establishment of the Church).
  • What was he to write in the book?  The words given him by God: ALL of them.  Jeremiah had been prophesying since the days of King Josiah (the last godly king of Judah).  Jehoiakim was the second son of Josiah’s to sit on the throne, so Jeremiah had been prophesying for several years by this point.  We cannot say for certain which chapters in the Biblical book of Jeremiah would have been included, but no doubt there was much.  We might think of this particular scroll as the 1st edition of the book of Jeremiah.
  • Just as important as what was in the book is why God told Jeremiah to write it.  God had a specific purpose in all of this: He wanted His people to repent.  God wanted them to hear, to respond appropriately (by turning around), and God wanted to “forgive” them.
    • That is still one of God’s primary purposes in the proclamation of His word.  We read the word of God, become aware of our sin, turn from our sin, and place our trust in the work of Jesus Christ so that we might be forgiven.
    • God WANTS to forgive us.  How bad do we want to be forgiven?  Enough to actually turn to Jesus in repentance and faith?

4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him.

  • We’ve seen Baruch before in Ch 32, though it was at a later point in the historical chronology.  Jeremiah worked with Baruch to exercise his right of redemption with land that was being purchased in Israel, as a sign that God would surely bring the Jews back to the land.  Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe and general assistant.  Here, Baruch served to take dictation, as Jeremiah repeated all of the words that God had given to him over the past several years.
  • Although ancient cultures typically demonstrated a far better memory than we do today, there’s little doubt that God the Holy Spirit supernaturally helped Jeremiah remember every word.  This is how inspiration works.  2 Peter 1:20–21, “(20) knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (21) for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” []

5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD. 6 You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the LORD’s house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities.

  • At first glance, it seems as if Jeremiah is imprisoned (“I am confined”), but we need to remember that this is a different timeframe than the last several chapters prior to Ch 35, which were given in the days of Zedekiah; not Jehoiakim.  Obviously Jeremiah could have spent multiple times in prison, but vs. 26 is going to indicate that the king does not know the location of Jeremiah.  If Jeremiah was in prison, then the king would have known exactly where to find him.  Other translations have Jeremiah saying “I am restrained,” which is also an appropriate translation & could refer to Jeremiah being restrained from entering the temple grounds.  Jeremiah had prophesied many things against the Jewish nation, potentially starting riots against him (per Ch 26), and it seems that the priests banned him from entering the temple for a time.
  • Jeremiah may have been confined, but the word of God was not!  Baruch would go to read the word in the temple.  The word of God can never be contained, no matter how hard people try to hold it back.
  • In any case, this is one more area in which Jeremiah needs the help of Baruch.  Not only did Baruch do the actual labor of transcription, but he was the one to go among the people and read the book in their hearing.
    • Every ministry is important in the body of Christ!
  • When was Baruch to do it? “On the day of fasting.”  At the time, there was no regular day set aside for fasting; fasts would be proclaimed on an as-needed basis.  Thus the plan was to write the book, wait for a fast to be proclaimed, and then go to the temple to have the book read in the hearing of the most people possible.  Their hearts would already be humbled before the Lord (supposedly), and hopefully this would have the greatest potential of impact for them.

7 It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people.”

  • As with Ch 34, there was a purpose in God’s word: to bring people to repentance.
  • God has “great…anger” due to sin.  That was true with Judah, and that’s true today.  God is righteously furious over sin – especially among the people who call themselves by His name.
    • Thankfully we have answer to the anger of God, provided by God Himself: the Lord Jesus crucified and risen from the grave.  Jesus is our propitiation.

8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD’s house.

  • Baruch was faithful to write down the word of God into the scroll, and eventually read that scroll in the presence of the nation…that’s what is mentioned next.
  • Book read to the people (vss. 9-10)

9 Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem. 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, in the hearing of all the people.

  • Quite a bit of time passed between the command of God and the reading of His word.  Sometime in the 4th year of Jehoiakim’s reign the project was begun, but the reading did not take place until the 9th month of the 5th year. Remember that Jeremiah and Baruch had been waiting for the right opportunity, and apparently it took a while for it to come.  It seems likely that a time of fasting was pronounced in light of Babylon’s defeat of Egypt, as the taxes and tributes started having to be paid to the new Middle Eastern superpower.  This was the first opportunity for fasting that had been proclaimed, and this was the time Baruch used to read the word of God to the people.
  • Baruch did as he was instructed.  He went to the temple, and (likely with permission) read to the people from the room of one of the temple scribes.  Everyone would hear him, and thus hear the word of God.  As harsh as some of the prophecies given through Jeremiah were, this ought to have been an answer to prayer for the people.  After all, they are fasting unto the Lord, seeking God’s face and demonstrating their dependence upon the Lord.  (Or at least, that’s what a fast is supposed to be.)  It’s while they are fasting that God speaks to them, through His word.  They had heard the words of God spoken through Jeremiah in the past; now they heard them again word-for-word.  It may not have been the message they wanted to hear, but it should have been confirmation that this was indeed the word of God.  They fasted, and God answered.  Now it was up to them.  How would they respond?  Would there be any national repentance?
    • Sadly, no.  We don’t read what happens with the multitude – the text will go on to speak of how the government reacted.  But from what we’ve read elsewhere in Jeremiah, there was no national repentance.  The people continued onward in their sin, even as Jeremiah continued to preach to them through two more kings.  But don’t miss out on the fact that God gave them the opportunity.  God desired their repentance, and placed the opportunity right in front of their eyes.  If they were blind to it, it is only because they blinded themselves.
    • God forbid that we would do the same!  So many times, the Spirit convicts our heart as we read the Scriptures – our godly friends and family give us wise counsel – we are convicted of the truth as we go before the Lord to pray – and then we still choose to go our own way and decide to sin.  We’ve blinded ourselves from God’s repeated attempts to reach us.  Be careful!  The more we decide to harden our hearts in that way, the easier it will be the next time it all comes up.  What God tells us to do in the Scripture may seem difficult, but we need to respond to it & obey – no matter what we think the circumstances might be as a result.
  • Book read to the princes (vss. 11-19)

11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the LORD from the book, 12 he then went down to the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber; and there all the princes were sitting—Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. 13 Then Michaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read the book in the hearing of the people.

  • One person who happened to be in the crowd that day was one of the noblemen of Judah.  He took what he heard to the “princes” – the royal court of advisors and other noblemen, and he passed on to them what he had heard.
  • BTW – isn’t this the essence of evangelism?  We simply tell someone about Jesus, and then they go and tell someone else.  It’s not a word we have to make up, or some methodology we have to follow.  We’re just witnesses.  A witness tells what he has seen or heard.  That’s true in a courtroom, and that’s true in evangelism.  Just tell the news…pass it on, so others can pass it on as well.

14 Therefore all the princes 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 in the hearing of the people, and come.” So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. 15 And they said to him, “Sit down now, and read it in our hearing.” So Baruch read it in their hearing. 16 Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, “We will surely tell the king of all these words.”

  • The greater multitude may not have responded, but princes understood that what Michaiah passed on to them was of massive importance.  They quickly realized that they needed to hear it from the source, so they call Baruch to come and read the book to them.
  • What they heard caused them to “fear” – and rightly so!  Over & over again Jeremiah had prophesied of the Babylonian conquest and destruction of Jerusalem.  The princes heard these prophesied afresh and realized that the king had to know.  The children of Israel had ignored God in the past, but they could not afford to ignore God any longer.  (Sadly, the king won’t have as much wisdom as the princes!)

17 And they asked Baruch, saying, “Tell us now, how did you write all these words—at his instruction?” 18 So Baruch answered them, “He proclaimed with his mouth all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the book.”

  • Before taking the message to the king, the princes verify the source.  They basically asked, “Is this truly the word of God, or did you make anything up and add to it along the way?”  They rightly recognized Jeremiah as an accurate prophet (even if they did not treat him as such), and they wanted to ensure that the words they heard were indeed the prophetic words of God.  Of course, Baruch answered affirmatively.  He was a scribe; not an editor.  The words that were written were the words that were given to him.
  • Our message is not our own!  The gospel is not something that can be tampered with in any way.  That’s not to say that every single person needs to share the gospel in exactly the same way; but the basic message itself is to be shared – not edited.  Jesus is the Lord God crucified for our sins, and risen from the dead, and He invites the world to be saved by His grace.  We cannot add to that by saying “Just get baptized, and go through this other ritual, give this amount of money, and THEN you can be saved…”  We cannot take away from it and say, “Just ask Jesus in your heart – don’t worry about what true faith looks like…”  We need to be faithful to pass along the simple message that we ourselves received, and in which we stand.  Just pass on the good news of Jesus!

19 Then the princes said to Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah; and let no one know where you are.”

  • Convinced that they had been accurately told the word of God, the princes gave instruction to Baruch and Jeremiah to go hide.  They understood the evil nature of the king, and how lives could be endangered.  Going into hiding was not running away from their responsibility; it was simple wisdom in order to save their lives.
  • Book read to the king (vss. 20-26)

20 And they went to the king, into the court; but they stored the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the hearing of the king. 21 So the king sent Jehudi to bring the scroll, and he took it from Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king.

  • It’s interesting that the princes did not immediately bring the scroll with them, but rather left it behind.  Perhaps they rightly feared what the king would do with it if he had it in his presence.  Or perhaps they thought it wasn’t necessary…either way, the king sent for the scroll and had it read to him directly.
  • On the one hand, this is a great opportunity.  When his father Josiah had the book of the Law read in his hearing, it cut Josiah to the heart and he tore his clothes in grief (2 Kings 22:11).  He heard the word of God, he was receptive to the word of God, and he repented in light of the word of God.  That was exactly the right response!  (It’s the response all of us should have…)  Yet that is not what Josiah’s son did.  Jehoiakim responded completely the opposite.

22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. 23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

  • Chronologically, the command for the scroll to be written was given in the 4th year – the scroll was actually read in the 9th month of the 5th year…that places the Hebrew calendar somewhere around the range of November-December.  The king was in his “winter house” doing his best to stay warm, with a fireplace in front of him as the scroll was being read.  What he heard so enraged him that he did not rend his garments in response to the word of God; he rent the word of God itself.  Jehudi would read a few columns at a time, and Jehoiakim would come right behind him, cut up the scroll & cast it into the fire.  He demonstrated no repentance – no humility – no fear of God at all.  Vs. 24…

24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them.

  • Josiah would have torn his clothes in response to the Scripture being read.  The servants of Jehoiakim didn’t even tear their clothes as they witnessed the Scripture being sliced, diced, and burned.  Neither the king nor his servants had any fear of God; only the princes tried to stop the desecration.
  • Keep in mind that we do not worship a book.  If someone were to rip up pages out of a Bible and throw them into a fire, we might not like it, but it’s not a damnable sin.  We worship the God of the Bible; not the Bible itself.  That said, how we treat His word says a great deal as to how we view God.  Again – not the paper…but how do we treat the words written ON the paper?  How do we respond to the truth that the pages are communicating?  True respect for the word of God is seen in obedience.  You can put your Bible on a gilded pedestal, trim out the pages in gold, highlight every other word, etc., but if you never obey what it says, all you’ve done is create a false idol. 

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.

  • True to the fears of the princes, the king attempted to persecute Jeremiah and Baruch.  However, God was one step (or more!) ahead of him, and “hid them.”  Obviously God did not always protect Jeremiah from persecution.  Eventually, the prophet did end up in the dungeon & almost starved to death.  There are many faithful followers of the Lord Jesus who have been severely persecuted (many in Iraq and Iran today).  But at this time, God had a purpose for Jeremiah outside of prison.  Jeremiah would not be arrested before God allowed him to be.
  • That’s something to keep in mind regarding all persecution and our trials (in general).  What we experience are the things that God allows us to experience.  Obviously it may be directly due to someone else’s gross sin (such as persecution), and God will hold them accountable for their sin.  But if it happens to us, that means that God allowed it to happen to us.  Which also means God is available to help us through those things.  We tend to spend a lot of time asking the question “Why?” when we endure trials, when perhaps the better question might be, “Lord, what do You want me to do with this?”  We might just be surprised at how God chooses to glorify Himself IN our trial.  (In Paul’s case, he wrote 1/3 of the New Testament.)
  • Command to rewrite the book (vss. 27-32)

27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: 28 “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. 29 And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘Thus says the LORD: “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?’ ”

  • God commanded that the scroll be rewritten.  The Holy Spirit had helped Jeremiah and Baruch write it once; the Holy Spirit could just as easily do it again.  God’s word will never be stopped, nor can it ever be destroyed.  It will endure forever.
  • Jehoiakim may have tried to ignore the word of God, but he could not invalidate it.  Cutting it up & burning it didn’t do a thing to stop the prophecies from coming true.  The king didn’t like what God had pronounced regarding Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem, but he couldn’t stop it from happening.  No matter how much he resisted, he would not be able to outrun the sovereign will of God.
    • Likewise for us.  People may not want to hear the news that they need to repent from their sin or face the judgment of God, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  Sin leads to death, and death leads to eternal hell.  That’s just the way it is.  Ignoring it doesn’t invalidate it.  We can’t put our hands in front of our eyes, stand on a highway, and pretend that it’s impossible to be mowed down by a truck.  Ignoring the reality does nothing to change it.  When we know the reality, we need to respond to it.  That’s what the word of God does with us.  It tells us how things really are – it shows us the depths of our sin & the need we have for Jesus – and it ought to cause us to run to His incredible offer of grace & forgiveness.

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.

  • As a result of Jehoiakim’s rejection of God, God rejected him & cursed his lineage.  None of his children would “sit on the throne of David.” Q: Considering that a son of Jehoiakim DID sit on the throne (Jehoiachin – 2 Kings 24:6), is this an error in the Scripture?  Was God wrong?  No.  Jehoiachin reigned for all of 3 months and 10 days (2 Chr 36:9), and he was followed by Zedekiah, his uncle.  One-hundred days can hardly be considered a kingly reign of any importance, and true to the word of God, his family tree was forever cut off.  In fact, this curse was reiterated to Jehoiachin (Coniah) personally (Jer 22:28-30).  It’s because of this prophecy that Jesus is a physical descendant of David through Mary, but a legal descendant (and heir to the throne) through Joseph.  None of either Jehoiakim’s or Jehoiachin’s descendants sat on the throne, but the legal right passed to Jesus by adoption.
  • Of course the other part of Jehoiakim’s curse was his death.  Scripture does not give us the account of how Jehoiakim died, but apparently what happened with his body wasn’t pretty.  He would not have a proper burial, but his body would rot in the sun.
  • BTW – there’s a bit of contrast here between Jehoiakim and the Rechabites.  Jehoiakim would lose his family’s right to serve the Lord, whereas the Rechabites would never lack a man to stand before God.  One was cursed because of his rejection of God; the others were blessed because of their faithfulness and general godliness (even though they were not even Jews).

31 I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed.” ’ ”

  • Jehoiakim’s sin did not merely affect him alone; it affected his family, his servants, and the whole nation.  All who lacked the fear of God would be punished, and they would all suffer the doom that the Lord had prophesied in the Scripture.

32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.

  • The conclusion.  God’s word wasn’t lost – it actually grew.  Jeremiah had been instructed to write down all the words that God had given him, and God wasn’t done speaking.  Jeremiah was faithful add all of that as well.

Conclusion:

God reaches out to His people…He always has.  Repeatedly, God reaches out in His grace, warning us of what awaits those who rebel and decide to remain in their sin, and the blessings that await those who respond to His love and grace.  How will we respond to His word?  The Jews had repeatedly ignored Him, ranging from the general population to the king.  Even the Gentiles in their midst had shown more faithfulness than them.  God would not ignore it, though God did not desire their judgment.  What God desired was their repentance, in order that He might forgive them.  They were the ones standing in the way of their forgiveness; not God.

The same thing happens with people today.  There are many who have repeatedly heard, and repeatedly refuse.  They stop their ears to the appeals of God – they close their eyes to the truth He has revealed – they try to pretend that it doesn’t matter and that they can ignore Him.  One day they will learn the truth…hopefully it will not be too late!  If someone can still know the conviction of God, the time to respond to God is now!

For the believer, we can have a couple of different reactions to this:

  • There are times we try just as hard as non-believers to ignore the clear word of God.  Don’t do it!  When God reaches out with His conviction, His word, His Spirit – listen.  Respond!
  • There are other times we grieve when we see others plainly ignoring the outreach of God.  Don’t stop sharing it with them.  We’re called to be messengers, so pass on the message.  Be faithful to pass on what you have heard of Jesus, so that others might know as well.

In all things, be faithful.  That is what God desires from us – and that is what God enables us to do.

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