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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Jeremiah 36

 

 

Verses 1-32

The Word of the Lord

Jeremiah 36:1-32

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

We want to show you how it was that Jeremiah spoke not his own words, but the words of the Lord. In order to do this, we want to place before you Scripture and verse, showing that the word of the Lord came to the Prophet.

Jeremiah 1:1-2 To whom the word of the Lord came.

Jeremiah 1:4 The word of the Lord came unto me.

Jeremiah 1:9 The Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth.

Jeremiah 1:11 The word of the Lord came unto me, saying.

Jeremiah 1:12 Then said the Lord unto me.

Jeremiah 1:13 The word of the Lord came unto me the second time.

Jeremiah 1:14 Then the Lord said unto me.

Jeremiah 1:15 For, lo, I will * * saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 1:17 Arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee.

Jeremiah 2:1 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me.

Jeremiah 2:3 Saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:4 Hear ye the word of the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:5 Thus saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:9 I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:12 Be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 2:19 My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

Jeremiah 2:22 Thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God.

The climax of these opening chapters, and of the chapters which follow, is in the part we are to study for today. Jeremiah 36:1-32 shows how God gave Jeremiah a special message, which the Prophet wrote in a Book.

We cannot understand how anyone can reject the fact that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." God did, indeed, put His words in their mouth. The result is, that when we are reading the Bible, we are reading the words which God gave us, both for instruction and correction, reproof and doctrine.

1. The Word of God is forever settled in Heaven. It is an unchanging Word.

You remember how Pilate said to the Jews, who wanted to change the superscription on the Cross, "What I have written I have written." A thousand times more, may we say that God's Word stays written, as it was written.

If some one urges you that God's Word is, therefore, not up to date, we hasten to reply, that when God wrote the Word, He was the Eternal God, and, when He wrote, all the future lay before Him. He knew, therefore, how to make His Word applicable to every age.

By way of illustration, we call your attention to a seven times repeated statement, found in Revelation 2:3 . The expression is, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (is saying) unto the Churches." In each case, the expression was written to one local Church, but the word is applicable to all churches. When the Spirit spoke to Ephesus, He spoke to us. Thus it is that the whole Bible carries a message to the whole world, of every age and clime.

2. The Word of God is forever authoritative. When Jesus Christ met the devil in the temptation in the wilderness, He unsheathed the sword which is the Word of God, and said, "It is written." He took the fifth Book of the Bible, which had been written for centuries, and with it, overthrew Satan in His (Christ's) own day.

We are willing to grant that the Word of God has special applications to the people to whom it was written; we are unwilling to grant that the Word written, to whosoever it may have been written, has no message for us, upon whom the end of the ages have come.

Take, for instance, the Book of Hebrews. The Holy Spirit continually reaches back into the story of the Children of Israel, their wilderness journeyings and their Canaan rest, and uses those events as types for the people who live at this very moment. Remember, the admonition in Hebrews is, "And so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

3. The Word of God, being authoritative, is written to be obeyed. One expression in the Bible should always be remembered, "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only."

I. THE WORD OF GOD DOES NOT COVER SIN, AND PROPHESY SMOOTH THINGS (Jeremiah 36:1-2 )

1. Jeremiah was told to write the very words that God had spoken to him. It would be absolutely unfair to Jeremiah to say that Jeremiah said this, or, that Jeremiah said that.

As the scene of this chapter opens, Jeremiah was in prison because of what he had prophesied. Jeremiah was in prison because of his faithfulness and fidelity to God. He was only telling what he had been told to tell. He was not to blame for what he said.

The kings of Israel and Judah may have blamed him for what he said. However, if he had not said what God bade him to say, he would have been under the condemnation of God.

It is in the Book of Jeremiah, that we have these words, "He that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully."

There were certain prophets in Jeremiah's time, of whom God said, "Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal My Words every one from his neighbour." Again God said, "I am against them that prophesy false dreams * * and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their lightness."

2. Jeremiah was told to write words of condemnation. Here is the statement of Jeremiah 36:2 . "Write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah."

It may be more pleasant to prophesy smooth things, and to preach lies. However, it is written that if we fail to warn the people, God will require their blood at our hands.

Think you, that the preacher of today should soft-pedal God's Word, concerning the present age? Think you, that he should cover up his testimony concerning the Divinely revealed conditions of the last days?

There is just one thing for us to do, and that is to preach the preaching that He bids us.

II. GOD'S PURPOSE IN HIS WARNINGS (Jeremiah 36:3 )

1. God's warning messages are His call to men to repent. When Jonah was commanded to go over to Nineveh and preach, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," his message was given that the Ninevites might repent. And repent they did. For this cause, God, for the time, held back their destruction.

There is no joy in the heart of the Lord, in proclaiming dark forebodings. God, however, does not want to destroy men. He would that all might repent and come to the knowledge of the truth.

God warns His people the same way, and for the same reason that we would warn our child. If we saw an auto-mobile about to crush our loved one, we would lustily cry to the child to flee.

God speaks to us of the coming destruction which awaits this godless age, in order that we may enter into the Covert from the storm of His fiery wrath, and indignation.

2. When men reject God's warning, they show that they are worthy cf all the judgments which God is about to send upon them. If a man refuses to be warned, he has no one to blame but himself. If he rushes on madly into the vortex of disaster and of death, why should he be pitied?

How plaintive was that word from the lips of our Lord, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not"!

These words may well be placed side by side with the words of our key verse: "It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil * * that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."

God would spare them they would not be spared God could not spare them. For this cause, it was written: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."

If the sinner, or the saint, refuses to repent, even God can do naught but send His judgments upon them.

III. PROCLAIMING THE TRUTH WHEN ENDANGERED WITH MARTYRDOM (Jeremiah 36:5-7 )

1. Jeremiah hastened to obey the Divine command. He knew that he could not, personally, go before the people, as he had of yore; therefore he called Baruch to go and read the roll, which he had just written from Jeremiah's mouth, even the words of the Lord.

We thank God that He has His heroes; His men who are not afraid to preach the truth.

Bear in mind, readers, that we are not urging upon you, or anyone, to wave the red flag of warning just for the thrill of the shock that it will cause. We are not calling upon you to run ahead of the Lord, but to faithfully proclaim His Truth.

God's martyrs may not now be called upon to lay down their lives for their faith. They may, however, be called upon to walk a pathway of isolation, and of degradation.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the martyrs should prevail. We read, "They loved not their lives unto the death." Let us cast our lots with that group of faithful witnesses.

2. Jeremiah sought to instill into the heart of Baruch, the spirit of compassion, as he read the Word. To Baruch, Jeremiah said what God had said to him, "It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way."

When we preach the judgments of God, we must not preach them as Jonah preached, for Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed.

We need to know both the passion and the compassion of Christ toward sinners before we pronounce God's judgments.

In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew the darkest anathemas which ever fell from the lips of the Master were pronounced against the scribes and the Pharisees. The whole chapter trembles under the thunderings of that oft-repeated word, "Woe!"

If, however, we want to get the full heart of Christ as He pronounced the "woes," we must not fail to read the verse we quoted before, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, * * how often would I have gathered thy children together." There were sighs and sobs in the heart of the Lord as He spake His judgments.

IV. FASTING BEFORE THE LORD WITHOUT REPENTANCE (Jeremiah 36:9-10 ; Jeremiah 36:15-16 ; Jeremiah 36:18 )

1. The fast is called. Jeremiah 36:9 tells us that they proclaimed a fast before the Lord to all people in Jerusalem, and to all people that came from the cities of Judah. It was at this fast that Baruch read all the words in the ears of the people. The result of the reading of the words, we will note a little later on.

The scene before us is unmistakably sad. There was a people coming to worship before the Lord, even with fasting, and yet, they were rejecting the words of the Lord.

In that same remarkable twenty-third chapter of Matthew, the Lord in His anathemas said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."

Again the Lord said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith."

Isn't it unspeakably sad that people can go to the house of God and carry out every ritual of a sacred service, and every form of a holy worship, and yet, go on in their evil ways? They come as the people come; they hear the Words of the Lord, but they never do them. They sit as the people sit, they bow as the people bow, with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after covetousness. The Lord is unto them, as a very lovely song, of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear His Words, but they do them not.

2. The Word is set aside. There is not one suggestion in our chapter that the people who heard the Word of God wept, or prayed for mercy. There is nothing to even suggest that they were ready to turn from their evil ways.

Oh, church of God, awake! fall upon thy face and repent of thy evil ways, lest the Lord will come upon thee, and remove thy candlestick!

V. THE PRINCES TAKE CHARGE (Jeremiah 36:14-19 )

1. The voice of the leaders. When the princes of Judah heard of what Baruch had read to the people, they sent for him. So Baruch took in his hand the roll, and came in unto them. They said unto him, "Sit down now, and read it in our ears." So Baruch read it in their ears.

We can almost imagine that we see some dear young preacher, who has the courage of his convictions, as he stands before his congregation and preaches the Word.

We can almost see that committee of leaders from the local church, as they bring the young man before them and say, "Tell us what, you preached to the masses."

These leaders assume that they have the right to either approve or disapprove his testimonies.

They may say to him what these princes said to Baruch, "Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?" Baruch quickly replied, "He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book."

Did the princes say "God hath spoken, and we must hear"? Not at all. They said, "We will surely tell the king of all these words." Then to Baruch they said, "Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be." The princes were sure that the king, higher up than they, would be sore displeased.

2. Who is the Head of the Church? Is there some one other than God who has authority over the men to whom God gives His message? Has God put the princes, or the king, or anybody else, over the local heralder of the Truth?

Are men to preach the preachings that God gives, or the preachings that men O. K.?

Are men to leave unsaid any word which God commanded them to say, simply because some one opposes them?

Are men to preach, and some one to report their preachings to the bishop, or the king, that he may pass upon it?

Are men to preach, and then to run and hide themselves, for fear of their popularity?

Nay, we will recognize but one Head of the Church, and one Master, and we will preach the preachings that He gives us.

VI. REACTION OF THE KING (Jeremiah 36:20-26 )

1. The new reader. When the princes came before the king, they told him of the roll, which Jeremiah had written from the Lord, and which Baruch had read before them. Then the king ordered the Word brought in, and Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. The men commissioned of God had been set aside, and Jehudi placed in their stead.

2. The reaction of the king. In Jeremiah 36:23 , we read, "And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth."

This deed was by no means done without the approval, and perhaps, the command of the king.

If the readers are amazed that anyone should dare to penknife God's holy Word, and to cast it into the fire, let them remember that the precious Word of God, the inerrant Word of Truth, is being penknifed all over the world today. It is being cast out, as a book of old wives' tales, and of useless fables. Its promises are counted as worthless, and its warnings as folly.

Of old, Christ said to Judas, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" Judas, the supposed friend and acknowledged comrade of the Lord, then betrayed Him with a kiss. Jesus became of old, a "Stranger unto [His] brethren." The Jews who should have opened their hearts to receive Him, cried out, "Away with Him." "Let Him be crucified."

3. A remarkable statement. In Jeremiah 36:24 , we read, "Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words." How is it possible that the Word of God can thus be treated with contumely? First, they penknife it. Then they cast it into the fire, and then they mock it. They fear not. How evil is the heart of man!

VII. GOD MOVES ON THE SCENE (Jeremiah 36:26-32 )

1. The Lord hid Baruch and Jeremiah from the wrath of the king. The man who will destroy the Word of God, will seek to destroy the man who preaches the Word of God. The Lord not only hid these men who wrote the roll, protecting them from the wrath of the king, but there is another thing that He did.

2. The Lord ordered Jeremiah to pronounce a curse against the king. "Thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?"

This verse gives us our first insight as to some of the definite words in the roll. The charge to king Jehoiakim continues: "Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not."

Think you, that he who penknifes the Word of God, and decries its message, shall escape the judgment of God? Against the modernists of today the "certain men" described in the Book of Jude, who have crept into the church unawares, and have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, "denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ"; against these God has said, "to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Jeremiah 36:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/jeremiah-36.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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