36 When Jehoiakim (son of Josiah) was in his fourth year as king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Eternal.
Though prophecy is primarily oral, eventually Jeremiah’s companion, Baruch, records Jeremiah’s sermons and actions on a scroll that in turn becomes critical.
Eternal One (to Jeremiah): 2 Write down on a scroll all that I have told you over the years about Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations. Start with the first words I gave you when Josiah was king, and include every message up to the present. 3 Maybe when the people of Judah hear all of it together—every disaster that I will bring upon them—maybe then they will turn from their wicked ways so that I can forgive their sins and wrongdoings.
4 So Jeremiah called for Baruch (son of Neriah) to help him. Jeremiah then dictated the messages and prophecies the Eternal had given him while Baruch wrote it all down on a scroll.
Jeremiah (to Baruch): 5 Since I am prohibited from going to the Eternal’s temple, 6 you must go for me. Go to the temple on a fasting day; and once you are there, read the Eternal’s words from the scroll just as I dictated them to you. That way, people from all the towns of Judah who have gathered for the holiday will hear this message from Him. 7 Maybe they will turn from their wicked ways and seek the Eternal’s forgiveness, because they will realize His great anger and wrath are coming their way.
It is 605 b.c., many years before the siege and fall of Jerusalem. But the increasing power of Babylon is casting its shadow across the region. Egypt has been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar at the battle of Carchemish. The warning signs are clear—Judah is at risk and must heed the words of God’s prophet while there is still time. The following is an account that takes place during this pivotal time, when Judah still has hope. But the reaction of King Jehoiakim—perhaps the fiercest opponent to Jeremiah’s ministry—begins to seal not only his own fate but also his people’s. If they had hope, it quickly fades with his arrogant and outrageous actions. The lesson for this evil king and his people is clear: The power of God’s word always prevails, even when others attempt to destroy it.
8 Baruch (son of Neriah) did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do; he went to the Eternal’s temple, stood among the crowds there, and read from the scroll the words of the Eternal.
9 This took place on a day of fasting in the ninth month of the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (son of Josiah). Just as Jeremiah had hoped, people had come from all over Judah for the holiday. 10 Baruch positioned himself in the room of Gemariah (son of Shaphan) who was secretary at the temple. This room was in the upper courtyard of the temple, near the new gate. From here, all the people who had gathered at the temple could listen as Baruch read the fateful words of Jeremiah from the scroll.
11 When Micaiah (son of Gemariah and grandson of Shaphan) heard the words of the Eternal that were written on the scroll, 12 he immediately went to the palace, to the secretary’s room where all the officials were meeting. Elishama the secretary, Delaiah (son of Shemaiah), Elnathan (son of Achbor), Gemariah (son of Shaphan), and Zedekiah (son of Hananiah) were among the officials who were there. 13 Micaiah reported to them everything he heard Baruch read to the people from the scroll. 14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi (son of Nethaniah and grandson of Shelemiah and great-grandson of Cushi) with a message for Baruch.
Jehudi: Bring the scroll you have read to the people and come to the palace.
So Baruch (son of Neriah), with the scroll in hand, made his way to the palace and entered this room where some of Judah’s most influential leaders were waiting.
Officials (to Baruch): 15-16 Please sit down and read this scroll to us.
Baruch then read the entire scroll to them. When they heard it, they were visibly upset. They began to look around the room at each other, each one afraid but knowing what must happen next.
Officials (to Baruch): We must report to the king all we have heard, but first we must ask you some questions. 17 Tell us how you wrote all of this? Did Jeremiah dictate this to you?
Baruch: 18 Yes. He dictated each and every word to me. I simply wrote down his words with ink on this scroll.
Officials: 19 Before we take this to the king, you and Jeremiah should go into hiding. For your own safety, don’t tell anyone where you are!
20 After the officials put the scroll in the room of Elishama the secretary, they approached the king in the palace and told him everything they had heard. But the king was not satisfied. 21 So he ordered Jehudi to go and get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king and all his officials as they stood around him. 22 Since it was the ninth month and the colder winter weather had set in, the king had moved to a more sheltered apartment in the palace where he could stay warm by the fire. 23 The king listened as Jehudi read column after column of the scroll. As soon as he finished reading three or four columns, Jehoiakim would take a knife, cut that section out of the scroll, and then throw it on the fire. This happened again and again until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. 24 Neither the king nor his advisors seemed to be concerned about what they had just heard. They weren’t afraid. They didn’t tear their clothes in remorse and repentance.
The king shows everyone, including his advisors, exactly what he thinks of God’s message written on the scroll.
25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he ignored them. 26 Instead, he ordered his son, Jerahmeel, along with Seraiah (son of Azriel) and Shelemiah (son of Abdeel), to arrest Baruch the secretary and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Eternal had already hidden them.
27 After the king burned the scroll containing Jeremiah’s prophecies, which Baruch had carefully recorded, the word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Eternal One: 28 Take another scroll and write down all the words that were on the first one King Jehoiakim destroyed in the fire. 29 As for Jehoiakim king of Judah, this is what I want you to say: “You burned this scroll and asked, ‘Why have you written that the king of Babylon is coming to destroy this land and will leave it a lifeless wasteland?’” 30 That is why I, the Eternal now declare this about Jehoiakim, king of Judah: His reign will soon end, and none of his descendants will sit upon the throne of David. His dead body will be tossed out and exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I will punish him, his children, and his advisors for their wickedness. Because they did not listen to My word, I will bring about every disaster I predicted against them, the citizens of Jerusalem, and all the people of Judah.
32 Jeremiah did just as God instructed—he took another scroll, gave it to Baruch (son of Neraiah) the secretary, and dictated everything that was on the first scroll. This new scroll had all the words that Jehoiakim, king of Judah, had burned in the fire, plus many more prophecies.