King Jehoiakim Burns
1 During the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord said to me, “Jeremiah, 2since the time Josiah was king, I have been speaking to you about Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Now, get a scroll and write down everything I have told you, 3then read it to the people of Judah. Maybe they will stop sinning when they hear what terrible things I plan for them. And if they turn back to me, I will forgive them.”
4I sent for Baruch son of Neriah and asked him to help me. I repeated everything the Lord had told me, and Baruch wrote it all down on a scroll. 5Then I said,
Baruch, the officials refuse to let me go into the Lord's temple, 6so you must go instead. Wait for the next holy day when the people of Judah come to the temple to pray and to go without eating. Then take this scroll to the temple and read it aloud. 7The Lord is furious, and if the people hear how he is going to punish them, maybe they will ask to be forgiven.
8-10In the ninth month of the fifth year that Jehoiakim was king, the leaders set a day when everyone who lived in Jerusalem or who was visiting there had to pray and go without eating. So Baruch took the scroll to the upper courtyard of the temple. He went over to the side of the courtyard and stood in a covered area near New Gate, where he read the scroll aloud.
This covered area belonged to Gemariah, one of the king's highest officials. 11Gemariah's son Micaiah was there and heard Baruch read what the Lord had said. 12When Baruch finished reading, Micaiah went down to the palace. His father Gemariah was in the officials' room, meeting with the rest of the king's officials, including Elishama, Delaiah, Elnathan, and Zedekiah. 13Micaiah told them what he had heard Baruch read to the people. 14Then the officials sent Jehudi and Shelemiah to tell Baruch, “Bring us that scroll.”
When Baruch arrived with the scroll, 15the officials said, “Please sit down and read it to us,” which he did. 16After they heard what was written on the scroll, they were worried and said to each other, “The king needs to hear this!” Turning to Baruch, they asked, 17“Did someone tell you what to write on this scroll?”
18“Yes, Jeremiah did,” Baruch replied. “I wrote down just what he told me.”
19The officials said, “You and Jeremiah must go into hiding, and don't tell anyone where you are going.”
20-22The officials put the scroll in Elishama's room and went to see the king, who was in one of the rooms where he lived and worked during the winter. It was the ninth month of the year, so there was a fire burning in the fireplace, and the king was sitting nearby. After the officials told the king about the scroll, he sent Jehudi to get it. Then Jehudi started reading the scroll to the king and his officials. 23-25But every time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king would tell him to cut them off with his penknife and throw them in the fire. Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, but he ignored them, and soon there was nothing left of it.
The king and his servants listened to what was written on the scroll, but they were not the least bit afraid, and they did not tear their clothes in sorrow.
26The king told his son Jerahmeel to take Seraiah and Shelemiah and to go arrest Baruch and me. But the Lord kept them from finding us.
Jeremiah's Second Scroll
27I had told Baruch what to write on that first scroll, but King Jehoiakim had burned it. So the Lord told me 28to get another scroll and write down everything that had been on the first one. 29Then he told me to say to King Jehoiakim:
Not only did you burn Jeremiah's scroll, you had the nerve to ask why he had written that the king of Babylonia would attack and ruin the land, killing all the people and even the animals. 30So I, the Lord, promise that you will be killed and your body thrown out on the ground. The sun will beat down on it during the day, and the frost will settle on it at night. And none of your descendants will ever be king of Judah. 31You, your children, and your servants are evil, and I will punish everyone of you. I warned you and the people of Judah and Jerusalem that I would bring disaster, but none of you have listened. So now you are doomed!
32After the Lord finished speaking to me, I got another scroll and gave it to Baruch. Then I told him what to write, so this second scroll would contain even more than was on the scroll Jehoiakim had burned.
Have you ever written an essay on your computer and accidentally deleted it? I can bet that anyone this has happened to will never let it happen again! (Incidentally, if you’ve ever done this, and re-written it, the second version was probably better than the first. Believe me, I know.) Now imagine how you would feel if somebody deleted it intentionally. Now imagine how you would feel if what they deleted was a message from God. Be grateful that Jeremiah and Baruch sat down and wrote it all out again.
This is a story to which we can all relate. This event is carefully dated, and happened before the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, so much of the book of Jeremiah as we have it in our Bibles must have been added later. But even so, think of the difficulty of taking down Jeremiah’s words by dictation with the kind of pen and parchment that Baruch must have used. Jeremiah and Baruch must have been frustrated and angry.
But something greater was at stake. Notice the point of the prophecy of disaster (v 3). It is like what Jesus said to the Pharisees. He longed to save them from their fate, but they would have none of it (Luke 13:34). God held out his offer of forgiveness, but his people refused to listen. Jeremiah was holding out the only hope for Jehoiakim, and Jehoiakim scorned him.
Contrast Jehoiakim with Josiah, when the Book of the Law was found in the Temple, and Josiah responded to its message by tearing his clothes (2 Kings 22:8 – 23:25).
“Words fly away, but paper stays put.” Be thankful that we have God’s message in writing, and that his words come to us across the centuries. His message is still the same. There is discipline for those who refuse to hear, and blessing for those who obey.
Father, thank you for your Word, its warnings and its promises. Help me to be faithful in reading the Bible, thinking about what it says, applying it to my own life, and acting on what you command.