I. GOD SENDS FORTH HIS WORD (vv. 1-10).
A. This event occurred during the fourth year of the reign of King
Jehoiakim (v. 1). It's interesting that his father is also mentioned. His
father (King Josiah) once heard the word of God proclaimed to him in unusual
circumstances. Josiah tore his clothes in repentance when he heard it; and
it resulted in a great revival (2 Kings 22:1-23:25; especially 22:11).
B. God commanded Jeremiah to record the words He had given him over the
past twenty- three years of ministry, and through the reign of three kings,
in testimony against Israel's sin (1:1-3; 25:1-7). It was to be written on "a scroll of a book" (v. 2). It was written by Jeremiah's assistant Baruch.
God had an expressed purpose in this: "It may be that the house of Judah
will hear . . . that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin" (v. 3).
C. Jeremiah was "confined" (v. 4). He could not enter the temple. And so, he
sent Baruch to read the book in the hearing of all who came to Judah in the
temple on the day of a declared fast (vv. 4-8). The command from God was
given in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (v. 1); and Baruch fulfilled this
command in the temple at the time of the declared fast on the fifth year (v.
9-10). He read in the chamber of Gemariah, the son of a scribe named
Shaphan. Shaphan and his family were clearly sympathetic to Jeremiah; and
were known for having given him protection during the reign of Jehoiakim
D. God's express purpose in calling for this reading of His word was that
the people might hear and repent. Yet, clearly, it was in the divine plan
of God that this offer be heard and rejected; and that the king become
hardened in his sin, and that Judah be taken captive by its enemies. The
offer was genuine; but the heart was hardened by the offer. It's not our
task to determine whether or not proclaiming His word will result in
repentance. Sometimes, it's His intention that His offer of grace result in
hardening of hearts (See Romans 9:14-24). It is our task to proclaim it and
leave the results to Him.
II. THE WORD IS RECEIVED BY SOME WITH FEAR (vv. 11-20).
A. Michaiah, the grandson of Shaphan, heard Baruch's reading of the word
through Jeremiah (v. 11). He then went to the king's house and into the
scribes' chamber, and told the princes and scribes that were there all that
was being said (vv. 12-13)
B. As a result, they sent for Baruch and asked him to bring the scroll and
read it in their hearing (vv. 15-16). When they heard, they didn't respond
as had Josiah - with tearing of the clothes in repentance; but they did
respond with great fear. They made additional inquiries about the word that
was read; and they decided that they needed to tell the king (vv. 17-18).
C. The content of this scroll was condemning. We're told something of it in
verse 29. Knowing the king, they wisely encouraged Baruch to see to it that
he and Jeremiah hid. They also were careful to hide the scroll until after
they had talked to the king about its contents (vv. 19-20).
D. Just because the word was received by them with fear, this didn't mean
that it would also be received by the king in the same way. They were not
careless with God's word. We should remember to be careful not to give what
is holy to the dogs, nor cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). Sadly,
their concern proved to be justified!
III. THE SAME WORD IS REJECTED BY THE KING WITH CONTEMPT (vv. 21-26).
A. Having told the king about the words of Jeremiah, Jehoiakim called for
the scroll and ordered it to be read to him. This may have been a moment of
great encouragement to the scribes (v. 21).
B. The king was sitting in his winter quarters, and had a fire blazing
before him. After every three or four columns of the scroll were read,
Jehoiakim would cut that portion off and throw it into the fire. The actions
of his godly father are set in contrast against his own. Josiah tore his
clothes; but Jehoiakim tore the scroll (vv. 22-24). He showed no fear of God
in doing this; and he continued to do it until the entire scroll was burned
in the fire - all in spite of the pleas of the scribes not to do so. It's
hard to imagine more contempt demonstrated for the word of God than this!
IV. GOD SENDS FORTH HIS REJECTED WORD AGAIN (vv. 27-32).
A. God commanded that His words to Jeremiah be written again (vv. 27-28).
Jehoiakim thought that, by burning God's word, he could be rid of it. He
was certainly not the last king to think this! But it will outlive heaven
and earth (Matthew 5:18). It will certainly not be destroyed by a campfire!
B. Word was also to be sent to Jehoiakim that, because he thought to avoid
the judgment of God by burning the record of it, he would have no son to sit
on the throne of David. He himself would die and have his body cast out - a
sign that he would have no honorable burial (vv. 29-30). What's more, God
would still bring about all the things that He said upon Judah (v. 31).
C. God's word was not only NOT stopped by Jehoiakim; but it was retained
and even added to (v. 32). We can't escape the word of God by trying to
destroy it. We only destroy ourselves when we do that. It still does all
that God sends it out to do (Isa. 55:8-10). The best way to respond to the
terror of God's word is to tremble before it and repent!