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Chapter 8




Jeremiah 36-38

In the last Chapter, the sad case, the grievous history of Jerusalem was in some measure of focus, leading to the events of today. War-torn hearts have had to live with a war-torn land and the transition from 1940-1944 to 1948-2009 has been one of rich industry in Israel, marvellous inventions, close study of the land, rapid transformation, splendid forestry work, a magnificent reputation for floral exports, the abundance of trees and flowers foretold (cf. SMR pp. 786ff., and 790ff.); but this is not all.

It has no less been one


of constant threat, attack in words and with rockets,
with armies zooming up from Egypt or coming from virtually all sides,


of characterisation of their return to the League of Nations appointed land
as the 'catastrophe' by not entirely pleasant neighbours, and then further


of verbal and potential military threat from an international consortium of non-neighbours
who take her welfare, or at any rate her existence so strenuously to heart or head,
that they are now prescribing for her much in detail.

Such is the life being led in Israel in terms of change from Auschwitz to the League,
to the UN, the first and the last both inimical to her integrity; and indeed the UN set for her ludicrous bits of Palestine in 1947, scarcely joined at all, while removing Jerusalem: a thing ARABS would not have!

As we saw, she is even being told whether or not to allow cities to grow in natural progression, or NOT! The latter is the most recent and implausible advice.

These indignities, Israel has suffered, but Jerusalem has not reeled. It has stayed put in Israel's hands, half since 1948, all since 1967, and it is now some 29 years since the Knesset declared it formally to be the capital, in the sight of all, without reservation or qualification. It is therefore at least 29 years since it has ceased to be trodden down by the Gentiles (to use the terminology of Jesus Christ in Luke 21:44); and THAT, He there declared would be an index to a certain fact. That ? it was that the end of the Age was drawing near. Such is the message through Luke 21.

So far, Israel has had three great military triumphs, again a thrust foretold as noted in the preceding Chapter: 1948, 1967, 1973, the last involving her rebuttal not in word, but in arms, driving the invading armies across to the far side of the Suez Canal. This was not all: they were then encircled.

Such foretold triumphs at war in the midst of vastly more numerous enemies she has been granted by God. The position is this, that grace reigns, but unbelief puts a stricture on its operation. Israel is poised between infidelity towards her own Lord, His assistance according to promise, now she is back (cf. Ezekiel 36:22*1), and a vehemence of evil enterprise against her (often 'for your own good'), that is as extraordinary in presumption as it is venturesome in interference.

Yet for all that, there have come to her not only the foretold flowers and forests, already fulfilled in a famous fashion, but still on offer from the Lord is the meadow of peace and the place of pardon. That is foretold to happen, in a little, in this context: it comes when in large numbers at least, her people turn back from international mentors, to the Messiah whom she, as a nation of course, crucified. The 'impossible' is often the only feasible outcome, and with God, NOTHING shall be called impossible. The most intractable seeming track, when once it leads one to the track of truth, can bring suddenly from decomposition, composition, from disaster, delight, from harangue and ague, holiness and enduringly godly action.

That is not yet. For perspective and impact, now we turn back to ancient times, and consider  a Jerusalem facing not an intervention for good, but for evil, and see what may be learned from this, for one and for all.

Today, therefore, we look at a gloomy picture, that of Israel of old, back in the 7th century BC, leading on the the 6th.,  when a King and then his brother, ruled in Israel. Their decline and that of the nation was a prelude, not as today for a deliverance in due time, but for disaster. Their fatuous strong-mindedness on the one hand, and then with the other brother, the equivocation and self-harassment of an evil mind wanting to have things that are good, jointly helped to bring devastation to Jerusalem.

This will serve as contrast to the present hopeless-seeming position of Israel, which has now moved through such a mode of rebellion and ruin, to such a hope in restoration of the land as Christ foretold (Luke 21:24), that the finale draws near, when God Himself will deliver her, and with this, point her heart once more back to Himself (cf. Romans 11:25ff.). Such is to be the case at least and at last, for  many in her midst, moved in depth and with anguish of repentance, back to Himself. THEN, then is a deliverance so profound that Micah 7:15 speaks of it in terms which compare it to the Exodus, when the 10 plagues devastated Egypt and God moved seas aside, to rescue His people - all in perfect timing (cf. The Exodus Escape).



This account from of old, in fact from Jeremiah 37-38, provides an ancient object lesson, and it has been divided into two sections. This Chapter the first, and Chapter 9, DV, the second.  This treatment will allow more depth in dealing with the issues unveiled as we follow the text and apply it to instruct our minds and stir our hearts, in our own era.

Jeremiah, the prophet closely involved with two kings, comes to our attention.

We are now looking at him in his inter-relationship first with King Jehoiakim, and then with 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 this second monarch, himself another son of the great King Josiah, that reformer and delight of the godly, "the breath of our nostrils" as it was put, the gambling 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. With him gone, what would the new King Zedekiah be like ?  Would be improve matters ? This was then a pressing question. Would the tide turn ?

Step by step, however, 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 with him 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.

Having seen the status quo, and the structure of things for these two sons of the great Josiah, we now turn to the first of them to reign, Jehoiakim, the bold. One will outline the steps to the points of special interest, in note form. It starts with the divinely anointed and appointed prophet Jeremiah being called to take up a post to speak from God especially to the nation of Israel. God directed him to write a specific message, and this led to confrontation with the King, the Princes and a pit, in turn. That however was just the beginning. Let us consider the steps.



Jeremiah 36:1-19


a) Instruction given to Jeremiah 2-3, from the Lord, and then it is

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) seen as a basis for the 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).

In the next Chapter, we 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 too 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. It is better to SEEK MEEKNESS, to SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS as Zephaniah 2:3 exhorts, in this time of modern tempestuousness, and to wait humbly on God to find His will, which is not only delightfully personal, but spiritually profitable for His kingdom. What more could anyone reasonably want!




See It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, with SMR Appendix A.

See also The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3 and Ch. 3 *1a.