Jeremiah Chapter 36
Lessons from the text
Man’s Role Is to Obey God
Jeremiah and Baruch demonstrated great obedience to God. Despite the persecution of the king, they continued to do as God commanded them. They were not deterred by the realization that continuing obey God endangered their life. They were more concerned with getting God’s word to the people.
Jesus tells His disciples to “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28). Jeremiah and Baruch are proof that following such advice is actually advantageous. Because they were obedient to God, God was faithful to deliver them from death.
While we are to obey our rulers, we are to recognize that God, and not man, has final authority in our life. If God tells us to do something, we are not to fear the consequences. This rests on the recognition that God only desires good for His people; because we know that God would not tell us to do anything to our harm, we can boldly fulfill His commands without fear. If following those commands gets us into trouble with man, then we know God will deliver us and, even if He does not, that our souls will be secure with Him in paradise (Dan. 3:13-18, Lk. 23:39-43).
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-3 Since Jehoiakim ruled for eleven years, this prophecy comes fairly early in his reign. God commands Jeremiah to write down all the prophecies that God has given him as a written record for both the current and future generations. God is graciously giving the Jews more opportunities to repent by publicizing His word in writing. Compare with Jeremiah 30:1-3.
4-8 Faithful to God’s command, Jeremiah calls a scribe, Baruch, to record the messages. He gives Baruch specific instructions on when to read the writings. A day of fasting is a time of repentance to seek God with humility and sincerity. If the people are sincere in seeking God, then they will be receptive to the words.
9-10 Months after Jeremiah instructs Baruch, the leaders declare a fast. Noteworthy is that Jeremiah and Baruch are acting on faith; God told them that they would read the book in the future but did not disclose when they would do so. They had to trust that God would send the right event and be ready to act whenever it arrived. Baruch is faithful, reading the words in front of all the people who are fasting.
11-13 God promises that His word will not go out void (Isa. 55:11). There is a man in the crowd that hears Baruch speaks and realizes he has just heard an important message from God. Accordingly, he goes to let those in authority know about it. He chooses to seek out a scribe he knows, and when he gets there God has arranged for many high-ranking officials to be there to hear his report. This was not happenstance; God arranged the circumstances to that these particular men of authority would be in that specific location so that His word would be heard.
of blasphemy because of the assumption that anyone speaking against those in God’s will is speaking against God. The problem is that God’s people are not always in God’s will and therefore stand in need of rebuke and correction. The tradition of the priests and rulers have blinded them to this fact, leading them to trust the false prophets who speak peace instead of the true prophets who warn of destruction if the people do not repent. Noteworthy is that God’s words brings fear into the princes hearts for the future; they have enough faith to recognize God’s words and to be concerned about the severity of the warning because they acknowledge that God is sovereign over them.
20-26 The princes took extra caution to approach the king. They first give a report and encourage him to listen to what is said. Jehoiakim, like the princes, want to hear the words for himself from the scroll. Yet unlike the princes, Jehoiakim does not listen to the words of God. He has no fear of God and has even lost the ability to recognize God’s words. In anger, he decimates the scroll, burns it, and calls for Jeremiah and Baruch to be taken into custody. Because Jeremiah and Baruch have been merely obeying God’s commands, God hides them from the king. The princes, worried that this would happen, were very wise to tell them to hide and tell no one where they are. This way, they could honestly answer the king that they do not know where the two have gone.
27-28 God sees what man does. Even though Jeremiah and Baruch are in hiding and therefore have no knowledge of the king’s response, God speaks to them and informs them of what has happened. If one puts one’s trust in God, He will always provide one the information one needs regardless of one’s ability to get the knowledge by human means.
29 God tells Jeremiah and Baruch to send a response to Jehoiakim. God knows the exact words that the king has spoken, a fact that should bring fear to his heart considering that Jeremiah and Baruch could not have possibly heard of these words. Jehoiakim does not believe that Babylon will come against him. He is concerned with Egypt who, by this point, is fighting against Babylon for control of its territories in the region (II Ki. 24:7).
30 God decrees that Jehoiakim will not produce a line of kings. This is fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon comes and takes him and his son away captive, leaving Jehoiakim’s brother to reign in his stead (II Chro. 36:6-10).
31 Because the people have chosen to not listen to God’s warning, God will proceed with all the judgments that He has declared against them. God gives people space to repent, but if they refuse to do so, God will destroy them. Humanity has no excuse for failing to heed God’s warnings regarding the consequences of sin.
32 Jeremiah and Baruch replace that which was destroyed. God’s words will not be prevented from being recorded by anything which man does. In addition, God has Jeremiah add more to the original message, demonstrating that what is recorded in the book of Jeremiah was written at God’s command and not man’s will. Jeremiah and Baruch did not know it at the time, but they are writing the very words that will be compiled into the Bible. Just as Moses wrote the first five books as a historical record but had no idea that it would begin the creation of the Bible, Jeremiah knows that he is recording God’s words but not that he is adding to the holy Scriptures.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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