Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. — Jeremiah 36:27-28
As part of his continuing education, my son-in-law Chris signed up for an online college class titled “History of the Old Testament: Understanding the Bible.” Being eager to expand his knowledge of how the Bible was written and learn something about the cultural and historical context of the Scriptures, he thought the course would be helpful.
However, it did not take long for Chris to begin feeling uncomfortable with the perspective offered in the assigned textbook. He did a little research on the author, and discovered that this man is part of a group who organizes seminars about Jesus. They teach that Jesus was just an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage who did not die as a substitute for sinners nor rise from the dead, but preached a social gospel in startling parables and general truths. That explained a lot about the disbelieving approach Chris had identified in his textbook! He observed that the course should have been subtitled, “Understanding how to try to disprove the Bible.”
Chris certainly is not the first person to come across an antagonistic attitude toward God’s Word. Since the beginning of time, Satan has tried to eradicate its divinely inspired truth. However, the Holy Bible has withstood countless attempts to destroy it and to discredit its authority over the centuries.
In today’s text, King Jehoiakim joined the infamous lineup of those who have attempted to do away with God’s words. In an impassioned rage, he cut out each column of the scroll written by Jeremiah and burned them all. However, our focus verse relates that God simply commanded Jeremiah to rewrite the prophecy.
Jehoiakim did not succeed in destroying God’s Word, nor has anyone else through the ages who has tried. One Bible expositor and author summed up a profound truth when he said, “Infidels with all their assaults, make about as much impression on this book as a man with a tack hammer would on the Pyramids of Egypt. When the French monarch proposed the persecution of the Christians in his dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, ‘Sire, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.’ So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hands at it; they die and the book still lives.”(1)
As Christians today, we almost certainly will find ourselves confronted at times with philosophies, world views, and individuals who contest the veracity and authority of God’s Word. Let us purpose to value the Word of God, and not hesitate to stand for it!
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, God directed the Prophet Jeremiah to write down the prophesies he had been given. God’s judgment on Judah was imminent, but He wanted to give the people another opportunity to turn from their evil ways.
Baruch, who recorded Jeremiah’s dictation, was a scribe. He was a man of learning and position, and he would have been familiar with the customs and laws of the time. The “roll of a book” was likely made of papyrus, parchment, or vellum (from animal skins). Pieces were sewn together and rolled on a piece of wood.
During the fifth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, the people of Judah came to the Temple for a fast, perhaps because of the Babylonian army’s earlier attack on Jerusalem. Although Jeremiah was not in prison at this time, he was out of favor with the rulers and many of the common people. Therefore, he was not allowed to go to the Temple, and he asked Baruch to read the roll to the people assembled there.
Gemariah was a prince. His son, Michaiah, heard Baruch’s reading and went to tell the other princes who were assembled at the king’s house. They called for Baruch and were fearful when they heard the message. They wanted confirmation that Baruch had indeed recorded Jeremiah’s words. Then they said the matter must go to the king, and advised Baruch that he and Jeremiah should go into hiding.
The ninth month was December, and Jehoiakim was in his winterhouse, probably an area of the palace that was kept warmer. The fire could have been in a metal or earthen pan. Jehoiakim commanded the scroll to be brought and read. The king was so infuriated that he cut up the scroll with a penknife — a knife that scribes used to cut scroll pages and sharpen reed pens — and burned it, showing his contempt for what God had said. Three men of the group — Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah — pled with the king not to burn the scroll, but to no avail. The king ordered the apprehension of Jeremiah and Baruch, but “the LORD hid them.”
God told Jeremiah to write the words again, which he did. The second writing contained special judgments upon the king for his wickedness in denying the original prophecy.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
D. The circumstances of the prophet
1. Jeremiah’s experiences before Jerusalem’s fall
c. The recording of Jeremiah’s prophecies (36:1-32)
(1) The writing of the scroll (36:1-8)
(2) The reading of the scroll (36:9-21)
(3) The burning of the scroll (36:22-26)
(4) The rewriting of the scroll (36:27-32)
Today, as in all generations of time, there are those who reject the Bible, but they cannot destroy it. God’s Word will stand forever!
1. H. L. Hastings, quoted in John W. Lea, The Greatest Book In the World, (1929), pgs. 17-18.