Jeremiah 36



Jehoiakim Burns Jeremiah’s Scroll (36:1–32)

1–10 The fourth year of Jehoiakim (605 B.C.) was an important time in Judah’s history. Nebuchadnezzar had attacked Judah and made Jehoiakim his vassal (2 Kings 24:1). Jeremiah had been warning the people about the coming judgment and urging them to repent while there was still time, but the people had not responded. So here in this chapter, the Lord instructs Jeremiah to write on a scroll all the words the Lord had given him to speak up until then (verse 2); perhaps, says the Lord, when the people hear all the prophecies read together, they will turn from their wicked ways109 (verse 3).

Jeremiah himself was restricted at the time (verse 5); his messages had angered many of the people (Jeremiah 26:1–11), and he didn’t feel free to move about. So after dictating his words to his faithful secretary Baruch, Jeremiah asked Baruch to read the scroll aloud at the temple on a day of public fasting, a time when many people would be coming to the temple (verse 6). This Baruch did. Notice in verses 10–11 that the family of Shaphan was again supporting Jeremiah’s cause (see Jeremiah 26:24).

11–19 When Micaiah, a grandson of Shaphan, heard the words of the scroll, he notified the officials (verses 11–14)—probably the same officials who had sided with Jeremiah earlier (Jeremiah 26:16). Baruch then read the scroll to the officials (verse 15). The officials realized they had to inform King Jehoiakim, but knowing the king’s evil nature, they feared for the safety of Jeremiah and Baruch (verse 16). So they urged the two men to hide (verse 19).

20–26 When the king was informed about the scroll, he asked that it be read to him (verses 20–21). However, the words clearly angered the king, and he burned the scroll in the fire bit by bit as it was being read (verse 23). The words of judgment did not cause Jehoiakim and his attendants to fear the Lord or tear their clothes in repentance110 (verse 24). Instead, the words of the scroll prompted the king to demand the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch. However, the Lord had hidden them (verse 26).

27–32 The Lord next instructed Jeremiah to write on a second scroll all the words that had been written on the first one (verse 28). God’s words can never be permanently “lost”; God makes sure that His word endures (Matthew 5:17–18; Mark 13:31).

Jehoiakim had been angered at Jeremiah’s statement that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land (verse 29). Because of Jehoiakim’s contempt for God’s word, God would make sure His words concerning the king came true! Indeed, Jehoiakim would die a disgraceful death, and he would have no one (no heir) to sit on the throne of David111 (verse 30).

In this chapter we are shown how God’s word is recorded and preserved. The words that Jeremiah dictated and that Baruch wrote on the scroll were not their own words; they were the Lord’s words, transmitted through the inspired Jeremiah. And even though Jeremiah was restricted (verse 5), God’s word was not “restricted” (see 2 Timothy 2:9). Jehoiakim tried to destroy God’s word, but God’s word ended up destroying Jehoiakim!