Making All Men See

Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, "It is easier to fool people than it is to convince people that they have been fooled." I agree with him. Religiously speaking, I was one of those "fooled" people for four decades of my life. Satan's "ministers of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:13-15) working inside the church were effective in blinding me to "God's Grace Program" while feeding me a steady diet of law based performance. I began my "recovery" from Satan's trap (II Tim. 2:26) thirteen years ago when I unexpectedly came face to face with the "key to understanding the Bible" (Luke 11:52). My education and edification in God's program of grace has progressively stabilized my life just like God promised it would in Romans 16:25. May this blog be used of God to liberate the world's largest religious denomination---"ignorant brethren". (Rom. 1:13)

Jehoiakim's Penknife

Jeremiah was quite a person! The book bearing his name is the second largest in the Bible. There is more biographical material on him than any other Old Testament person. When people saw Jesus, many of them thought of Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14). He was quite a man. Jeremiah’s great work was as a prophet of God with the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the last thirty or so years of the existence of that kingdom. He ministered to the last five kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. He is known as “the weeping prophet,” in that he wept for the city of Jerusalem because God’s people had become so hardened that there was little or no hope of repentance and destruction was certain.

Jeremiah chapter 36 relates to us an important event during the reign of Jehoiakim. Verse 1 reads: “And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord,” The fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign was 605 B.C. This was the year Nebuchadnezzar began to reign over Babylon (25:1) and the year he defeated Assyria and Egypt (46:2). This was the year of the first stage of the Babylonian Captivity as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and others were taken away into Babylon. This year was the beginning of the end for the Jews of that day.

This passage of Scripture highlights King Jehoiakim’s response to the Word of God. Today in America we are repeating this grievous error of ancient Israel.

Vs. 1-8…

God had a message for that day. It was an inspired message. God told Jeremiah: “Write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee. . . .” (vs.1). Jeremiah did not write his own thoughts and opinions. He wrote what God told him to write (2 Peter 1:21). It was to be a written message. God told Jeremiah to write down all the prophecies he had made to that point in time (vs. 1-2). Since Jeremiah had already been prophesying for twenty three years (25:1, 3), this was quite a collection.

So Jeremiah calls for Baruch, the scribe (36:4, 32) and dictates God’s message while Baruch writes it down (36:4, 17, 18). This is our introduction to Baruch, who became Jeremiah’s secretary, confidant, and companion (Jeremiah 45; 32:12, 13, 16; 43:3, 6). It was a message of warning. (36:2). The sin of God’s people was long-lived and deep-rooted, and God was angry. “Great is the anger and the fury . . .” (36:7b).

Vs. 9-21…

Baruch went to the temple. A sympathetic government official by the name of Gemariah allowed him to use his chambers which was located high on the outside wall of the inner court. Baruch probably spoke from a balcony to all the people gathered below. So he read “the words of the Lord” (36:8) “. . . in the ears of all the people” (36:10). And what happened? Let it be noted that these were God’s people who had come to God’s house to worship Him, but they remained unmoved by God’s message.

Michaiah, the son of Gemariah (who had provided Baruch’s “pulpit”) responded to the message by running to the palace, to a room where the “princes” (or noblemen) are meeting, to share the message (36:11, 12). After Michaiah gave his version of the message, they sent for Baruch to get it first hand. Baruch came and for a second time the message was read, this time “in the ears” of the princes (36:14, 15). And what kind of response did the message receive this time? They were terrified (36:16); they decided to pass the message on to the king (36:16b). Before they went, they advise Baruch and Jeremiah to hide. Jehoiakim had already killed one prophet with a similar message (Jeremiah 26:20-23).

Vs. 22-26…

The “ninth month” means it was winter. The king and his court were in the part of the palace prepared for cold weather, called the “winterhouse” or winter apartments. In the middle of the room is a brazier, a brass container with a charcoal fire burning within. Sitting before that fire, close enough to feel its warmth is the king, Jehoiakim. His name means “Jehovah will establish.” He is on the throne of David. He is God’s anointed one. He is bound to uphold the laws of God. He is the son of Josiah, who rent his clothing when the law was read and he realized that they had not been keeping God’s commandments (2 Kings 22:11-20). But this king is not like his father. He was a self-centered man. He built costly buildings using enforced, unpaid labor (22:13-17). He oppressed the poor; he shed innocent blood; he killed the prophet Uriah (22:17; 2 Kings 23:27; 2 Chronicles 36:5). This is the tyrant that sits warming his hands as God’s message is read “in his ears.” Notice what happens. The princes had been terrified when God’s message was read . . . but not this man. (36:24). He totally rejected the message and tried to destroy it. He borrowed a “penknife” (this was the knife used by the scribe to sharpen the point of the reed that was used as a pen; it was also used erase letters by scraping the ink off the writing surface). He had the reader hold the scroll where he could cut off the portion already read—and he tossed it into the fire. Three of the princes begged him not to do it, but he would not listen (36:25)

Vs. 26-32…

Jehoiakim did not destroy God’s Word by throwing it in the fire; rather he destroyed himself and his nation (36:27-32). Jehoiakim destroyed the scroll, but he could not destroy the servants of God (36:26). Nor could he destroy the Spirit of God who guided Jeremiah to write the mesage (2 Peter 1:21). By God’s direction, the message was rewritten. Notice these enlightening words… “And there were added besides unto them many like words” (36:32). The message ended up stronger than before! Both messages were inspired of God. This is why I am not troubled with the “added words” in the Authorized 1611 King James Bible. God is at liberty to add words to His inspired message if He so desires without jeopardizing inspiration.

What happened to King Jehoiakim? In Jeremiah 22 it was prophesied that no one would mourn at his death (36:19). Just as Jehoiakim cast God’s Word into the fire, so his dead body was cast into the streets like a wild beast, without a King’s burial (36:30). An attempt was made to place his son Jehoiachin on the throne, but the promise had been made that none of his offspring would sit on the throne (36:30). So after three months Jehoiachin was carried away into Babylon in stage two of the Babylonian Captivity. A few years later, in 598 B.C., in the third and last stage of the Babylonian Captivity, Jerusalem was destroyed, and its walls torn down, and the people carried away.

CONCLUSION The bottom line of Jeremiah 36 is that you do not hurt, nullify, or destroy God’s Word when you reject it; you simply destroy yourself. This Book may look very fragile with its lightweight pages that are easily torn and leather covers that can be cut to pieces. But, in actuality, its message is indestructible (1 Peter 1:23, 25).

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