Jeremiah 36:11-26 Jehoiakim Burns Jeremiah s Scroll LORD

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1 Jeremiah 36:11-26 Jehoiakim Burns Jeremiah s Scroll LORD When last we left our heroes (Jeremiah and his secretary Baruch), Baruch was headed toward the temple on a national day of fasting to read a scroll dictated to him by Jeremiah to all the assembled. Jeremiah had been banned from going into the temple (for reasons we can only guess at) so he commissioned Baruch to deliver the message. When Micaiah, the son of Gemariah, son of Shaphan heard what Baruch had to say, he was alarmed enough to go to the king s house and alert the king s officials. They, in turn, sent Jehudi to Baruch telling him to bring the scroll with him to read it to the king s counselors. They said to him: Sit down and read it. (Jeremiah 36:15 ESV) So Baruch read it to them. When they heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear. We must report all these words to the king. (Jeremiah 36:16 ESV) They asked Baruch if the words were dictated to him by Jeremiah, which they were. Then the officials said to Baruch, Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are. (Jeremiah 36:19 ESV) [Just a note about Micaiah. ESV Study Bible Notes p :11 Micaiah, the son of Gemariah. Gemariah was probably the brother of Ahikam, who defended Jeremiah in 26:24, and the uncle of Gedaliah, who guarded Jeremiah in 39:14. ] These people appear to be guardian angels for Jeremiah. The bible tells us that this occurs in the ninth month (our December). So the counselors go off to see the king in the winter palace. Because it was cold there was a fire ablaze in the fire pot. They reported to Jehoiakim all that was said and then Jehudi read the scroll to the king. As Jehudi read, the king would cut off the column just read and cast it into the fire, not unlike someone today tearing pages out of a book and burning them. Thus the whole scroll was destroyed. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments. Even when Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. (Jeremiah 36:25 ESV) What can Jeremiah have said? Then Jehoiakim did what most kings do when they don t like the message or the messenger: he sent off several henchmen to seize Baruch and Jeremiah the prophet but the LORD had hid them. (v. 26 ESV) Jeremiah 36:27-37:2 The Scroll Revisited One can almost see Jehoiakim dusting off his hands in an attitude of that takes care of that! It is clear that Jehoiakim s upbringing did not include much by way of the fear of the LORD. The LORD had other plans. The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. (Jeremiah 36:28 ESV) Jehoiakim fills us in on the details of the first scroll: Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it man and beast? (Jeremiah 36:29 ESV) I m sure that that was the Cliff Notes version of the message, but enough of it to help us understand why the king s counselors were afraid. I m sure there was much more detail. But what the LORD has in mind for Jehoiakim is a bit more personal and chilling. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, but they would not hear. (Jeremiah 36:30-31 ESV) It must have been brave of Jeremiah to write the Writing Group October 11, 2011 Page 1

2 scroll because to speak of the defeat of Judah would have been regarded as treasonous; certainly not a message anyone would want to hear. So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch. He then dictated (again) all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. (Jeremiah 36:32 ESV) 2 Chronicles 36:5-6 (ESV) sums up very briefly Jehoiakim and what happened to him. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and the abominations that he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place. Jehoiachin only lasted three months in Jerusalem then Nebuchadnezzar had him dragged off to Babylon. Next in line (note not Jehoiakim s son) was Mattaniah the son of Josiah who was made king by Nebuchadnezzar. His name was changed to Zedekiah. Although the son of the most righteous king of Judah, Zedekiah managed to become known for doing evil in the sight of the LORD. As it happens, Zedekiah will prove to be the last king of Judah (until Jesus comes). You may see the name Coniah referenced in these passages. Coniah is another name for Jehoiachin, and to make things interesting, he is also known as Jeconiah (Jeremiah 24:1). Things don t change much with Zedekiah: But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the LORD that he spoke through Jeremiah the prophet. (Jeremiah 37:2 ESV) Jeremiah 37:3-21 Zedekiah is Warned; Jeremiah is Imprisoned Zedekiah is paying a little attention to what is going on. He sends for Jeremiah and asks him to pray to the LORD for him; to act as a kind of mediator; remember that Jeremiah was also a priest. At this point, the Chaldeans (Babylonians) were affecting a great deal of influence on the events going on in Jerusalem. They deposed a king or two and set up a king or two. Now, it appears that the Egyptians are coming upon the scene. This inspires the Babylonians to withdraw from Jerusalem. It looks like a respite from the Babylonians, alas, but it is not to be. Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet: Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah who sent you to me to inquire of me, Behold, Pharaoh s army that came to help you is about to return to Egypt, to its own land. And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city. They shall capture it and burn it with fire. Thus says the LORD, Do not deceive yourselves saying, The Chaldeans will surely go away from us, for they will not go away. For even if you should defeat the whole army of the Chaldeans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire. (Jeremiah 37:6-10 ESV) We can see a couple of things here: Jeremiah did not preach or prophesy what people wanted to hear, but only what he heard from the LORD, and that the LORD had determined to visit upon Judah and Jerusalem all that he had said beforehand through his prophet Jeremiah and others like him. Jeremiah was not out to win any popularity contest, which explains what happens next. Jeremiah headed home to the land of Benjamin to a town called Anathoth. [This was a city set apart for the Levites for Jeremiah was a priest. -- Jeremiah 1:1.] He went to Anathoth to receive his portion there Writing Group October 11, 2011 Page 2

3 among the people. (Jeremiah 37:12 ESV) This may refer to the piece of land he had purchased from his cousin back in chapter 32. Actually, that is not the point. Once he gets to the Benjamin Gate he is seized and proclaimed a traitor with, You are deserting to the Chaldeans. (Jeremiah 37:13) This was untrue, of course, but he was then cast into a makeshift prison in the house of Jonathan, the secretary. From there Zedekiah summons Jeremiah to ask him is there is a word from the L ORD. Happily or unhappily there is a word from the LORD, although King Zedekiah is not going to like it. You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon. (Jeremiah 37:17b) Jeremiah then reminds the king of all the good news his other prophets had predicted: where are they now? How good was their counsel? Jeremiah only pleads that he not be sent back to the prison in Jonathan s house. The king obliges him and imprisons him in the court of the guard. Jeremiah is allotted a loaf of bread every day until the city was taken. Even here in the midst of prison and want, the LORD is literally providing to Jeremiah his daily bread. Jeremiah 38:1-13 Jeremiah Cast into the Cistern Jeremiah was released from prison and then continued to proclaim: He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live (Jeremiah 38:2 ESV) This is probably an abbreviated version of Jeremiah s message, but it was enough to alarm the king s counselors so that they approach Zedekiah telling him that Jeremiah is a demoralizing influence on the people. They want the king to sentence Jeremiah to death, but Zedekiah just releases Jeremiah into their charge. They decide to lower him into a dry cistern (well). Every story has an unsung hero. The hero in this case is Ebed-melech [ servant of the king ] an Ethiopian and a eunuch who worked for the king. He pleaded with the king because of the injustice done to Jeremiah and persuaded Zedekiah to let him get Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies. Zedekiah sends Ebed-melech, along with thirty men, to lift Jeremiah out of the well. Jeremiah was returned to the court of the guard. Ebed-melech is motivated by the injustice of the situation and not from any personal gain he might enjoy. [Jesus might say: You freed me from prison. Ebed-melech might question: When did I free you from prison Lord?] This will not be the last time we encounter Ebed-melech. Jeremiah 38:14-28 Zedekiah is Warned for the Last Time Zedekiah again asks Jeremiah for a word from the LORD. Jeremiah protests saying that Zedekiah will put him to death because of the message. Zedekiah is forced to swear As the L ORD lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life. (Jeremiah 38:16 ESV) Jeremiah tells him again that the LORD wants Zedekiah to surrender to the Babylonians and that if he does not then surely the city will be burned and many people will die. Zedekiah hesitates in fear because he thinks that if he surrenders that those who have already gone over to the Babylonians will seek to deal cruelly with him. Jeremiah tries to reassure Zedekiah that he will be safe as long as he obeys the word of the LORD. Jeremiah then relates the vision the LORD had shown him if the king of Judah does not surrender. But if you refuse to surrender, this is the vision which the LORD has shown to me: Behold, all the women left in the house of the king of Judah were being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and were saying, Your trusted friends have deceived you and prevailed against you; now that your feet are sunk in the mud, they turn away from you. All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire. (Jeremiah 38:21-23 ESV) This is the same message Jeremiah has been telling all the Writing Group October 11, 2011 Page 3

4 kings of Judah since the time of Josiah (Jeremiah was born about 645 B.C.) through Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Zedekiah pleads with Jeremiah to tell no one of their meeting and that if questioned about it he is to say that he (Jeremiah) begged the king not to send him back to the prison in Jonathan s house. He was returned to the court of the guard until the day Jerusalem was taken. 2 Kings 25:8-12, The Fall of Jerusalem Verses 25:8-12 describe the fall of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar had sent the captain of his bodyguard Nebuzaradan to Jerusalem to raze it to the ground. He destroyed the temple and every great house and carried off anyone of any influence. Those left behind were the poorest of the poor and they were to become vinedressers and plowmen. It looks like Jeremiah was a prophet after all; he met the criterion set forth in Deuteronomy 18:21-22 [ And if you say in your heart, How may we know the word that the L ORD has not spoken? when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (ESV)] Verses 25:22-26 speak of the unrest in Judah once the army of the Chaldeans returned to Babylon. Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan was named as governor. He tried to encourage the remaining Jews to play nice with the occupiers for they would be better off. However, there were those who felt strongly opposed to the Babylonians in the land and wanted no part with collaborators. One such person was Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family. So strongly did he feel about these events that he took with him ten men and fell upon Gedaliah and killed him and everyone with him. Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose and went to Egypt, for they were afraid of the Chaldeans. (2 Kings 25:26 ESV) It does seems logical that retribution would follow. Occupiers don t like to be opposed. Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14 An Encouraging Word to the Exiles Jeremiah writes to the exiles in Babylon. [Jeremiah had been given a choice by Nebuzaradan either to go to Babylon or to stay in Judah. He chose to stay in Judah.] You can imagine that the exiles were sorely discouraged and dejected. Jeremiah wrote to encourage them to rebuild their lives in their captive state. While the exiles cold not leave Babylonia freely, still, they were not enslaved as they had been in Egypt so many hundreds of years before. The word from the LORD to them was to begin anew. Marry and have children so that they may marry and have children. They were to pray for the well being of their captors in order to maintain their own well being. They were to accept their situation as though it had been given them by God. This must have been a bitter pill to swallow. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:8-9) The LORD makes is clear through Jeremiah that the exile will last seventy years and then the captives will make it back to their own land. This promise is coupled with another: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek Writing Group October 11, 2011 Page 4

5 me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-12 ESV) Not only will the LORD bring the captives back he will restore their fortunes, and gather them from all the nations and places where he had driven them. Writing Group October 11, 2011 Page 5

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