Reading through the Bible together
Jeremiah had a long ministry, from the days of Josiah until the last days of King Zedekiah in his 11th year. The last recorded days of Jeremiah were during the time of the successor of Nebuchadnezzer. The ministry of Jeremiah was about 44 years, and God had shown him conditions before and after the exile. As usual, the people were stiff-necked, much to the frustration of the prophet and of God.
In this chapter God approached Jeremiah in 605 BCE shortly before the coming of Nebuchadnezzar (v. 1). It was in Jeremiah’s 7th year of service for the Lord. He was to take a scroll and write all the prophecies and messages that God gave him, “even to this day” (v. 2). The plan was that when this scroll is read to the king and his princes, they repent and “I [the Lord] will forgive their iniquity and their sin” (v. 3).
So Jeremiah called for Baruch his scribe and dictated to him God’s message which Baruch wrote down all that Jeremiah said (v. 4). Circumstance restricted the prophet of God to communicate with the king but he sent Baruch to read the message at the Lord’s house on the day of the fast when people came to Jerusalem from over all over Judah (vs. 6-9). The fast was called to come “before the Lord,” but the people’s hearts were unchanged and so was the heart of the king and his princes with him. Baruch read the words of the Lord by Jeremiah in the chamber of Gemariah in the upper court at the entry of the gate to the Lord’s house (v. 10). Some of the princes were not there, but Micaiah, the son of Gemariah, was there and heard the words of the Lord (v. 11).
So Micaiah went the “scribe’s chamber” and told the princes what Jeremiah had said (v. 13). So they sent Jehudi, a black young man (whose great-grandfather was Cushi which was the name for people from Ethiopia) to go and ask Baruch to come to the meeting and bring the scroll with him and read it to them (vs. 14, 15). They all were shocked by the words of the Lord through Jeremiah and “turned in fear one to another” (v. 16). They wondered how these words were written down (v. 17) and the process of creating such a message. They wanted to know whether all of it was from Jeremiah. They were convinced that Baruch and Jeremiah were on the right track asking them to hide (v. 19). So they placed the book of Jeremiah in the chamber of Elishama, one of the colleagues of Baruch (v. 21).
Then the young black man, Jehudi, was asked by the king to bring the scroll and read it him (v. 21). The king was warming himself before the fire (v. 22) because it was winter. After the king heard it, he took a knife and cut the scroll and threw the Word of God in the fire (v. 23). “Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (v. 24). No one is as deaf as the one who refuses to listen. The king commanded his own son and his friends to seize Baruch and Jeremiah “but the Lord hid them” (v. 26).
God spoke to Jeremiah to produce another copy of his text and use Baruch as the scribe (vs. 28, 32). And God added extra words concerning the punishment of the king and his servants as well as his descendants. These extra words were added by Jeremiah on his newly dictated book.
Our God used able men and women to write His Word and what they wrote was historically correct and appealed for repentance while demonstrating the patience of an ever loving God. As far as the character of God is concerned, punishment is humanly self-constructed because God tries His best from different ways to get the person converted.
“Dear God, Grant that we will not burn the Word of God by our scorn and tear it by our twisted lives. When You appeal to us, may our faith work together with Your divine plan. Save us from ourselves, Lord. Amen.”
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National UniversitySangju, South Korea