Jeremiah 36-37

Thursday Evening Bible Study

April 14, 2005

Jeremiah 36

:1-8 Jeremiah makes a written record

:1 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:

We now skip to the year 605 BC. This is the first year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This is also the year that Daniel and others are taken in the first captivity to Babylon.

:2 "Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day.

Jeremiah’s prophecies are to be written down. Probably written on a scroll of papyrus sheets pasted together.

:3 "It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."

God is hoping that the people will hear the messages and repent.

:4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him.

Baruch is Jeremiah’s attendant and scribe. He was the fellow that held on to Jeremiah’s real estate transaction (Jer. 32) when Jeremiah bought the land from his cousin.

Jeremiah dictates his prophecies to Baruch.

:5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD.

confined – Jeremiah’s probably not in jail, but he’s restricted from going into the Temple.

:6 "You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the Lord's house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities.

Baruch was supposed to read Jeremiah’s prophecies to the people on a day when they got together to seek the Lord, a day of “fasting”.  Before Jerusalem was wiped out, days of fasting were sort of like unplanned emergency procedures.  After the fall of Jerusalem, certain days became annual days of fasting.

:7 "It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people."


It’s about turning around

Sometimes God’s message is one of kindness and goodness.
(Rom 2:4 NKJV)  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

God’s hope is that people would turn from their sin.

Sometimes the message is one of judgment, producing fear, such as in Jeremiah’s day.
God’s hope is that people would turn from their sin.

(Jude 1:20-23 NKJV)  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, {21} keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. {22} And on some have compassion, making a distinction; {23} but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Whether the message is one of compassion or one of judgment, God’s heart is the same, for us to turn from our sins and turn to Him.

:8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the Lord's house.

:9-19 Jeremiah’s scroll publicly read

:9 Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem.

It seems that Baruch has had this scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies all ready to go, and it’s not until a couple of months later that an actual “fast” day is called.

The fast is called in December, 604 BC.

This is interesting because a document called the “Babylonian Chronicle” reported that Nebuchadnezzar was in Palestine at this time collecting “tribute” (taxes) from all the nations that he had conquered.  It was also in this same month that Nebuchadnezzar captured the Philistine city of Ashkelon, located on the coast of the Mediterranean, about 40 miles east and south of Jerusalem.

Perhaps Jehoiakim has called for the fast in order to ask God for help from Nebuchadnezzar.  Perhaps it was just that April 15 was right around the corner.

:10 Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the Lord's house, in the hearing of all the people.

Baruch reads the scroll in the Temple.

Is this the first time it’s been read? If it is, then depending on how the time has been calculated (it gets tricky some times) it’s been as much as nine months since Jeremiah and Baruch have written out these prophecies.

:11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the LORD from the book,

Michaiah is a good guy. He’s one of the priests.

:12 he then went down to the king's house, into the scribe's chamber; and there all the princes were sitting; Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.

These are leaders. Some are politicians, some are priests. They seem to be good guys.

:13 Then Michaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read the book in the hearing of the people.

:14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, "Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read in the hearing of the people, and come." So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them.

:15 And they said to him, "Sit down now, and read it in our hearing." So Baruch read it in their hearing.

Baruch reads the scroll a second time.

:16 Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, "We will surely tell the king of all these words."

They’re shook up by what is in the scroll.

I wonder if they’re shook up because of what God was saying about them or because they were afraid of what the king would do when he found out what Jeremiah had written.

We’re in a better place when it’s God’s Word that shakes us up.

(Isa 66:5 NKJV)  Hear the word of the LORD, You who tremble at His word…

:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, "Tell us now, how did you write all these words; at his instruction?"

:18 So Baruch answered them, "He proclaimed with his mouth all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the book."

He wrote it out word for word.

:19 Then the princes said to Baruch, "Go and hide, you and Jeremiah; and let no one know where you are."

They have a notion that Jeremiah and Baruch are going to get into trouble with this.

Jehoiakim was the king who didn’t like prophets telling him he was doomed.  One prophet, Uriah, had run away to Egypt, but Jehoiakim had sent his agents to Egypt and had the fellow brought back and executed.

:20-32 Jehoiakim destroys the scroll

:20 And they went to the king, into the court; but they stored the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the hearing of the king.

:21 So the king sent Jehudi to bring the scroll, and he took it from Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king.

:22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him.

It’s a cold December day. Jehoiakim is sitting in the warmest room in his palace, the “winter house”.

:23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

The scroll was written in columns.  As Jehudi would finish reading a couple of columns, the king would cut those columns off and throw them into the fire.  They would read, cut, and burn until the entire scroll was read and destroyed.

:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words.

God’s Word just bounces off their hearts. Seems to have no affect.

:25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them.

:26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.

:27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying:

:28 "Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned.

:29 "And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'Thus says the LORD: "You have burned this scroll, saying, 'Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?'"

:30 'Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.

:31 "I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed."' "

Jehoiakim thought that he didn’t have to pay attention to Jeremiah’s scroll. He probably thought it was simply stirring up revolt among the people.

Because he refused to pay attention, he was going to bring judgment on himself.

At his death, he would not receive a proper funeral. His son would only reign for three months before being taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. His brother (Zedekiah) would be appointed king in place of his son.

It’s a graphic picture of what God warns about concerning His Word:

(Rev 22:18-19 KJV) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: {19} And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

:32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.


God’s Word survives

The Waldenses were considered heretics by the Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages because they held strictly to the teaching of the Bible. They considered the Bible like an anvil. They had a saying:

Hammer away ye hostile hands!

Your hammers break;

God’s anvil stands.

No other book has survived the centuries unaltered as has the Bible.
Voltaire once said, “The Bible will be a short-lived book.” The years proved Voltaire to be wrong and the very house in which he lived was used to store Bibles.
The Communist dictionary issued by the Soviet State Publishing house describes the Bible as a “Collection of fantastic legends without scientific support.” Lenin once declared, “I expect to live long enough to attend the funeral of all religion.” Lenin has long since been dead (and the Soviet Union is gone), the Bible and religion has never been more alive.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) once stated, “Within 50 years the Bible will be a forgotten Book.” But years later, the very press he used to print this statement was being used to print Bibles.

Dr. Calvin Evans


God’s Word is supernatural

The Bible is not like any other book of “religious” literature.
It has a unique, supernatural quality about it.
We believe that the Bible is God’s Word – it is how God has spoken to man.
One of the things that gives us an idea that this is how God has spoken is through the Bible’s unique ability to prophecy about events before they happen, with 100% accuracy.
Fulfilled prophecy is one of the great objective things we can point to as to why the Bible has God’s fingerprints on it.  Only God can tell the future.

(Isa 46:9-10 KJV)  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

One of the hundreds of examples is a prophecy concerning the ancient city of Tyre, a prophecy made by Ezekiel about 20 years after the fall of Jerusalem, a prophecy with very specific details.  The prophecy is found in Ezekiel 26 and contains the following elements:

1.     Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the mainland city Tyre (26:8).

2.     Many nations would come against Tyre (26:3).

3.     It would be scraped down to the bare rock; flat like the top of a rock (26:4).

4.     Fishermen will spread nets over the site (26:5).

5.     Debris would be thrown into the water (26:12).

6.     Never be rebuilt (26:14).

7.     Never to be found again (26:21), or, it would never return to it’s former glory.

Yet these were the exact things that would happen to this city that seemed to be unconquerable.

Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre for 13 years (585-573 B.C.).  When he finally broke into the city, he found it mostly empty.  The people had fled by boat to an island a half mile off shore.  Nebuchadnezzar destroyed this mainland city in 573 BC, yet the city continued for years on the island.

When Alexander the Great came through in 333 BC, he decided he wanted to conquer Tyre.  He took the rubble of the old mainland city and used it to build a causeway 200 feet wide out to the island city which he then conquered.  He scraped the old site clean to make this cause way.  It took seven months to conquer Tyre.  When they finally broke into the city, eight thousand inhabitants were put to death and thirty thousand were sold into slavery.

The city rebuilt after Alexander and one nation after another would come against it including the Muslims who eventually leveled it for good in 1291 AD.  There is a modern city of Tyre, a small fishing village, but it’s located a few miles from the original city.

Peter Stoner has calculated the odds of these seven prophecies coming true at 1 in 75,000,000.

There may be times when you struggle with wondering if God’s Word is any different from other “scriptures”.  It is totally different.  There are no other religious writings with this kind of accurate, specific, predictive prophecy.
(2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV)  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, {17} that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When the Bible tells us that there is only one way to heaven, it’s not a matter of us being narrow minded, it’s a matter of us listening to what God Himself has said about coming to Him.

(John 14:6 NKJV)  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

(Acts 4:12 NKJV)  "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

The Scripture is “God-breathed”.  It’s got His DNA in it.  We ought to be using it to guide our lives.

Jeremiah 37

Jeremiah 37-39 form a chronological unit.

:1-10 Babylon will be back

:1 Now King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.

Zedekiah was the last king of Judah before the Babylonians wiped out Jerusalem.

:2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.

Even though Zedekiah will seem to show great interest in what God has to say, he doesn’t do what God says.

(James 1:22 NKJV)  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

:3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "Pray now to the LORD our God for us."

This sounds like a good thing.  The Egyptian army has moved north and is about to chase the Babylonians away from Jerusalem.  Zedekiah is thinking that perhaps God might use this to bring them deliverance.  So he asks God to help this situation.


God’s deliverance

You idea of deliverance may not be God’s idea of deliverance.
When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they cried to God to deliver them.
(Exo 2:23-25 NKJV)  Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. {24} So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. {25} And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.
God answered their prayers by sending them a reluctant deliverer, Moses.
As Moses began to negotiate with Pharaoh to set the Israelites free, things didn’t exactly go very well.
(Exo 5:6-9 NKJV)  So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, {7} "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. {8} "And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before. You shall not reduce it. For they are idle; therefore they cry out, saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' {9} "Let more work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it, and let them not regard false words."
They had cried out to God for deliverance, but instead of things getting easier, they got harder.
(Exo 5:20-21 NKJV)  Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. {21} And they said to them, "Let the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."
Did God ever deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt?  Yes.  But before it got easier, it got harder.
Moses tried to comfort and encourage the people….

(Exo 6:9 NKJV)  …but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

Sometimes when we’re in need, we think we have just the solution for God to use.
The person that wants to get married looks at some model in a magazine and thinks, “This must be the one, God help it to be so …”
The person who has financial problems sees a particular job online and knows that this job will solve all their problems, “God help me get this job”.
God may indeed work this way for some folks, but don’t be surprised if God wants to work another way.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray, but when we pray we should be open to letting God work the way He wants to.

:4 Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison.

:5 Then Pharaoh's army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.

This was Pharaoh Hophra who reigned from 589-570 B.C.

Chaldeans – another name for the Babylonians

Pharaoh sent his army north to support Zedekiah against Babylon.  His army made the Babylonians retreat.  Hophra left before actually engaging in any battles with the Babylonians.  When he left, the Babylonians came back.

This all took place around the time that Zedekiah had made the people promise to release their slaves (Jer. 34).  They did this hoping to please God and find deliverance from Babylon.  But when the Babylonians left, rather than keeping their promise of freeing their slaves, they took their slaves back.

:6 Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying,

:7 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land.

:8 "And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire."'

:9 "Thus says the LORD: 'Do not deceive yourselves, saying, "The Chaldeans will surely depart from us," for they will not depart.

:10 'For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.'"

This wasn’t exactly what Zedekiah wanted to hear.  He was probably hoping that Jeremiah would declare that the whole Babylonian threat was over.  Instead, he promised that they’d not only come back, but that there was nothing that could keep the Babylonians from wiping out Jerusalem.

:11-21 Jeremiah in prison

:11 And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army,

:12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people.

Back in Jeremiah 32, we have the incident where Jeremiah purchased part of the family plot.  This was supposed to have been a thing to show the people that once again the land would have value.  But that seems to have been a later incident since Jeremiah was already being held in the prison courtyard (32:2) at that time.

Either way, his family’s farm was in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin, and he’s going to look at some property.

:13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "You are defecting to the Chaldeans!"

The guard at the gate thinks that Jeremiah must be a traitor, heading out to the Babylonians to get more orders or perhaps to simply defect.

:14 Then Jeremiah said, "False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans." But he did not listen to him. So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes.

:15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.

:16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,

The Hebrew is “in the house of the cistern, in the vaulted rooms”

Apparently Jonathan’s house had one or more cisterns that had been converted into a prison.

:17 then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, "Is there any word from the LORD?" And Jeremiah said, "There is." Then he said, "You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!"

Do you think Jeremiah was tempted to say something like, “Zedekiah, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life …”

:18 Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, "What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison?

:19 "Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, 'The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land'?

Jeremiah is reminding Zedekiah just who the real prophets were.

:20 "Therefore please hear now, O my lord the king. Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there."

Jeremiah is in his sixties.  He’s afraid that if he’s thrown into the cistern again that he would die.

:21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.

piece of bread – probably a loaf of bread.