Jeremiah 36 The Scroll Of Jeremiah.
In about 605 B.C., the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s first move against Jerusalem, Jeremiah was instructed to write down the words he was receiving and would receive, concerning the nations, and Judah going into captivity (vv. 1-3). To this end he enlisted the services of one Baruch who “wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him” (v. 4). The LORD’s hope for them was that they might repent, that he might then forgive them. The people did not, but it also had the effect of proving that Jeremiah was a true prophet, since what he would go on to predict, would come to pass. Writing it down also served the purpose of it then being available to read, which Jeremiah also instructed Baruch to do in the temple, since he was confined to prison (v. 5), and to do so on the day of fasting, a time when there would be pilgrims visiting from afar (v. 6). Perhaps the people would take the LORD’s words to heart as they made their supplications before him in his house (v. 7). Baruch complied (v. 8).
The next year everyone came once again to the temple during a time of fasting (v. 9), and once again Baruch read from the book of Jeremiah, the words given by the LORD (v. 10). During this reading, one Michaiah went to all the princes who were present, and told them of the words he had heard. They in turn asked him to have Baruch come to them with the scroll, and had Baruch read it to them (vv. 11-15). They looked in fear at one another, and told Baruch that they would tell these words to the king. We are then told how the book came to be written, which lends insight into how Jeremiah and other books in the bible were sometimes written, through a scribe like Baruch – writing down the words that came out of the prophet’s mouth (vv. 16-18). So serious was the matter that the princes instructed Baruch to go into hiding with Jeremiah, letting no one know where they were (v. 19). When the king heard the words from the princes, he had one Jehudi bring and read from the scroll itself.
Since the ninth month was December, the king was seated beside a hearth with a fire (vv. 20-22). Jehudi only read as far as 3 or 4 column in when “the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire” where it was consumed (v. 23). None were afraid at such an act, showing that they were fearful of the king, but not of the LORD (v. 24), although three persons present, Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, tried to dissuade the king from doing such a thing (v. 25). This was in stark contrast with Jehoiakim’s father Josiah, who when he heard the book of the law read, tore his clothes acknowledging the just wrath of the LORD for their not heeding the law-word of the covenant (II Kgs. 22:11-13). Jehoiakim also tried to seize Baruch and Jeremiah, “but the LORD hid them” (v. 26). Then the LORD commanded Jeremiah to have the scroll written again (v. 27). He also commanded him to say to the king that the LORD knew he had burned the scroll, because of what was predicted about the coming of judgment via Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 28-29).
As a result of what Jehoiakim had done, the LORD declared that “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night” (v. 30). Everything predicted in the book would come to pass. The king, his family, and his servants would be punished for their iniquity, for they were warned of the doom coming, but they did not heed the word (v. 31). Baruch would go on to add to the scroll “many similar words” (v. 32). These words also give us a glimpse into what was a part of the canonization of the word, that any new words were ‘similar’, that is, any new words were judged by their harmony with that which came before. There are a number of other lessons here in this chapter for all who read and heed it’s words. Firstly, the LORD’s words of judgment are meant to move people to repent. Secondly, life goes better for those who do repent. Thirdly, those who choose rather to silence the word will themselves be silenced. Finally, the LORD himself has preserved his word through his chosen means.