The Expository Files

King Jehoiakim's Bible
(Jeremiah 36)

Prior to the Babylonian captivity, the nation of Judah had become exceedingly wicked. They were immoral, dishonest in their dealings with one another, and idolaters. God sent many prophets to turn His people back to Him. They would call upon the people to revere God again as their ancestors had done, at least during their better moments. They were told that God would continue to bless them if they would turn to God.

Like some of the others, Jeremiah prophesied that doom and destruction were coming to Jerusalem and Judah trough the Babylonian Empire. The only way the destruction could be averted was by repentance. History records that the people of Judah did not repent, and their attitude, as a whole, can be summed up by the attitude of the king, Jehoiakim.

We'll consider the king more in a moment, but first consider this: Why would the people not repent? It seemed the logical thing to do. They could not come out ahead by rebelling against God. Perhaps for the same reasons that many people today do not turn to God. There might be a lack of respect, or love, or trust. Or there may be pride or other self interests. But with regard to King Jehoiakim and the people of Judah, consider Jeremiah chapter 36.

Jeremiah is commanded by the Lord to write the prophecies of doom against Judah (Jeremiah 36:1-2). God's purpose for the writing was not to anger them, but to save them (see vs. 3). Though the words of the prophecy might be deemed rather harsh, understand that God is not happy in speaking to them in terms of warning. He would much prefer faith on the part of the people. He always wants us to do well.

Baruch, a servant of Jeremiah, is enlisted to write the words down as Jeremiah dictates them by the Spirit. (Jeremiah 36:4,18). Archeologists have discovered in diggings around Jerusalem some of Baruch's signet rings which he would use to seal the documents which he wrote, identifying them as genuine. He and Jeremiah are real historical figures. After Baruch wrote the words, he was commanded by Jeremiah to go and read the prophecy in the temple. (Jeremiah. 36:5-6). The message found its way to king Jehoiakim as Jeremiah and Baruch are forced into hiding. The king, after hearing a small part of the message, took a knife and cut up the scroll, finally casting it into the fire (Jeremiah 36:22-23). Not everyone who rejects God's word has such a flair for drama, but the end result is still the same. A few men tried to persuade the king to stop, but most were silent (Jeremiah 36:24-25).

The king then turned his attention to Baruch and Jeremiah, seeking to arrest them, but the Lord protected them. God instructed Jeremiah to write another roll with all the former words and with additional words of personal destruction to king Jehoiakim. Jeremiah did as he was instructed by the Lord (Jeremiah 36:28-31).

The New Testament also has messages of doom, and the purpose is the same - to turn people from their sins. (Acts 17:30,31; Hebrews 10:30,31) God is patient with us, but eventually His patience will end and destruction will come. (Romans 2:4,5; 2 Peter 3:9,10).

Sadly, the spirit of Jehoiakim is still alive and well today. When people reject plain Bible teaching, for all practical purposes, they are cutting and burning the Word of God. One might not go through the literal act of cutting and burning, but the rejection of God is just the same. Why would anyone think that they can alter the truth of God's word by ignoring it. One might as well take a knife to it. But in the old days of Judah, judgment came just as the word of God had said it would, and Jehoiakim's knife did nothing but cut paper. It did not and could not alter the truth. You and I cannot either.

Jehoiakim and his court had no fear of God as they read His word to them. That was too bad. It cost them dearly as individuals, and Judah as a nation. May we as individuals, and our nation as a whole, resolve to do better, and by the grace of God, be successful.


By Jon W. Quinn
Final Page
From Expository Files 11.3, March, 2004