Australian Bible Church





May 31, 2009

Jeremiah 36-38






  Today, your notes will be partly a sketch or outline, for the oral version will be available, DV, on the Web.  However, there is some prepared meat in it, so read on. Further, it has been divided into two sections, this Sunday the first, and DV, next Sunday the completion. This will allow more depth in dealing with the issues unveiled as we follow the text and apply it to our hearts.

We are looking at Jeremiah in his inter-relationship with King Jehoiakim, and then King Zedekiah, the latter actually not the son of King Jehoiakim, but a brother, since the son had experienced travail after only 3 months in office, taken up with evil, and been moved to Babylon. As if this were not in itself enough warning to the new monarch, another son of the great King Josiah, that reformer and delight of the godly, "the breath of our nostrils" as it was put, Zedekiah engaged in such a routine of roulette, hoping against hope whilst not changing his ways, lordly while languishing, equivocal and inequitable, that it is a wonder he even bothered to find out what the result would be!

On the other hand, Zedekiah's brother, Jehoiakim,  who preceded his rule, had been most decisive, but in the wrong direction, and his deadly and drastic acts led to his incarceration and death. Then came his brother. Would be improve matters ?

Step by step, Zedekiah's degrading double-mindedness led him to what could have been a simple noose from the start. Better than this,  even a late deliverance; but he had by the end of it all, become so obsessed with what people would think, and how he would look, a sort of IMAGE executive, that the realities hardly seemed to register at all.

How many are like this, hoping, but doping the conscience; concerned, but waiving the opportunities while more indulgence called; looking for good but not evacuating from evil! and doing it all slowly, till events and psychic callouses make the end almost, very nearly indeed, predictable even to man, and if to man, yet more so to God: who yet holds in store His mercies, to which appeal may be made with heart and soul, at any time. PUT AWAY your iniquities is one of the FIRST points, and this is an inward action when revulsion and seeking for redemption reaches such a point that turning to faith in the Saviour, Christ Jesus, there is this blessed result: a birth has occurred.

It cannot be less; you CANNOT play or even parley with God.



Jeremiah 36:1-19


a) Instruction given 2-3, from the Lord, and then

b) Enscrolled 4  

c) Rolled Out  5-7

d) Read

i) in the Lord's House 8

ii) in the chamber at the entry of the New Gate - 10

e) summarised by Michaiah in the scribes' chamber,
to which it was relayed, during a proclaimed fast

e)  brought by Baruch, and read there - 14

f) made subject of resolution to tell the King, Jehoiakim  - 16

g) made subject of enquiry as to its origin,
mode of production - 17-18

h) led to exhortation: HIDE! - 19. 

As to its mode of production, the way it came from Jeremiah: it is almost scathing in its irony, the way in which scribe Baruch tells them, as if they were slightly backward Primary school students. When they ask "How did you write all these words from his mouth ?" - in other words, they appear to ask with some such intonation as this:

Was there some intervening process, could there have been a dropped word here or an added one there ? might Jeremiah have perhaps, although actually and of course SPEAKING to you, left something to you to ... interpret ? As to the scribal process, could you tell us a little more concerning its technique ... could there perhaps have been some error, some intervention in the fully rounded process of getting those words FROM HIS MOUTH into words on paper ?

Such is the apparent tenor, the impact that is felt in their interrogation as they ponder the peril the words contain! They appear almost desperate for a way around the fact: THIS IS THE WORD THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN, and this is precisely what He said and meant.

Baruch's response is delightful, wooden in irony, it may be, and certainly unshakeable in poise. "From his mouth he called out {or proclaimed or recited} all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the book." Such is the Hebrew meaning of the terms.

Let us apply this to our day.



Jeremiah 36:17-19

Is this not precisely the tenor of much liberalism and neo-orthodoxy, which is post-orthodoxy or pre-secularism ? (italicised words only are actually spoken).

'In what now, gentlemen, say the foxes, 'are we to conceive of the word of God ? Perhaps it is some humming in the unthinkable, some wafting from the unknowable, or some estimations from the knowable conceivably at least at times, something hard to define; but let us be very sure of this (so much before the Churches concerned had fully fallen, to preserve the form and the appearance), it IS the word of God' (aside: whatever that means!).

Such has been the forsaken folly of many, perhaps thousands of lecturers across this fallen world, as it has often during its final falls, tried to seem good while in wild rebellion, to seem godly while gone a million, to follow the form of sound words, while obliterating the fact, and so to deceive by deviousness and to wander in apparent wonder, with the head in the books of accounts (as per II Peter 2) or of popularity or of power, or of seduction as per the manual: How to subvert the church ? However, the Manual does not always CALL it that, since even some lecturers were not, at that earlier time, fully corrupted, but rather - How to Make Maxi-Mutations in the Church without Too Much Trouble. The Manuals changed as time went on.

In the case of Jerusalem in Jeremiah's day, these charming enquiries did nothing to avert the fact that what God said is precisely what He proceeded to do, having multiply and with complete faithfulness, warned. He whose word make this world, has no difficulty making His servants hear and inscribe (as in I Corinthians 2:9-13). It is for this reason that Jesus the Christ advised that not a jot or tittle of the law would fail till all was fulfilled (Matthew 4:17-20).

That is how God works: He speaks and it is done. Mercy is a marvel in the midst, and judgment at times pauses long; but when mercy is rejected, and divine grace has endured, then judgment proceeds, sometimes as in the prophet's day, apace. But then, they had had centuries of warning, with no small vigour, from Micah, Hosea, Amos, down the line. Indeed, they had been most severely warned from Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 31:27ff.).



                           Jeremiah 36:20-32

The word of God is often not at all popular, and the prophets suffered accordingly. While Jeremiah, the divinely chosen writer hides (Jeremiah 3:6-8), the word of God abides. Many a tyrant forgets this, but it does not forget him! In this case, that is most apparent.

a) King Jehoiakim summons the word of Jeremiah to be brought,
and receives the beginning of the message, by his Winter fire. Consider: Going to Church, summoning the word, however, it is not enough. It must sink in.

b) After three or four columns were read, he took his royal scribe's knife and cut it,
before casting it into the fire. This is like cutting an air-pipe to you, when you are a diver. Wisdom is justified of her children: this was not such a case! Test all things, don't cut, for when God is involved, there is nowhere to run  -  23.

c) However no one is visibly moved, mortified by the regal act. Though three plead with him, it is not sufficient  - 25. Pleading is not enough, the king's retinue being held accountable. Protestation is not severance, nor is a record of disturbance the necessary action for fire. It must be put out. Danger is to be met, not fanned with hand of protest merely - 23-25.

d) The King gives command that the prophet and scribe be seized, but in vain - 29.

e) God gives instruction to the prophet to re-write the scroll (28-29) and to give a message to Jehoiakim: You have protested that the scroll said that Babylon's King would come and destroy - now you will lack a King from your body to follow you, and your dead body  will be cast out to the day and to the night. The servants of the King, also will be punished.

f)  Jeremiah ACTS, not talking about it. He writes another scroll. If your Church turns from the word of God, you turn to that word itself in the presence of the Lord, and go where it is not being destroyed (Romans 16:17).

Next Sunday, Lord willing, we will plan to continue this narrative and find much meat in the spiritually conceived causes and effects, follies and results, in this post-faith era in Jerusalem, where kings made momentum into disbelief, and even the morbid and indeed moribund spiritual defeatism and equivocation of an Ahaz seems almost off-white instead of volcanically explosive black, by comparison with this now more developed default ! (as in Isaiah 7).

There is a time for declension, in language studies, but this can be constructive, looking at the way words change according to their grammatical position; but when it comes to SPIRITUAL DECLENSION, this is a process for smarting, sweating, confusion, diffusion, intrusion of the word of man into the word of God, dismissal of the latter in terms of the former, partially at first and then more and more totally, until, as C.S. Lewis put it so well, it becomes like a butterfly collection to which the interested owner brings friends, with feeble interest perhaps, to admire! before getting on with the serious things of living.

There is a time of declension in personal spiritual life, and these two frequently go together, failing pseudo-faith and failing joy and peace in life, while many things are ‘tried’ – and found wanting, both by God, as He judges, and man, as he makes himself worthy of judgment, in the end.

The escape is always present, but not without faith; and not without the word of God; and not without salvation, for as it is written in Hebrews 2:

“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonder, as with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.”

Therefore, putting our trust in Him absolutely, let us follow His word carefully, as those who love Him who gave it, and yielding ourselves to Him, which is our reasonable service, be not conformed to the flesh and its philosophic plays, but transformed to Him who calls (Romans 12:1-2); and what a call is that, to goodness, grace and glory in Him who died, and rising again in very body, loaded with power and dispersing peace, brings soon to His people that resurrection which has been prepared.


Next Sunday, DV, the completion of this series and its total overview is to follow.