Scripture reading – Jeremiah 35-37

The prophet Jeremiah ministered to Judah during the reigns of five kings: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36).

Two sons of King Josiah reigned after his death. Jehoahaz, the youngest son of Josiah, was made king; however, soon after he was deposed and taken as a prisoner to Egypt. In Jehoahaz’s absence, his elder brother Jehoiakim was made king of Judah.

The timeline for Jeremiah 35 is during the reign of Jehoiakim (35:1).

Jeremiah 35 – God Rewards Spiritual Integrity

God commanded Jeremiah to put the household of the Rechabites to the test and prove them as a contrast with the unfaithfulness of Judah.

Jeremiah was told to invite the Rechabites to the Temple and offer them wine to drink (35:2). The prophet obeyed as he was commanded and set wine before the Rechabites and said, “Drink ye wine” (35:5). True to the vows that had been made by a godly ancestor named Jonadab, the Rechabites refused the wine saying, “We will drink no wine” (35:6-11).

Jeremiah 35:12-19 presents a distinction of the honor and integrity of the Rechabites contrasted with the dishonor of the people of Judah. While the Rechabites honored the vows of an ancestor (35:12-14), the people of Judah and Jerusalem refused to heed the word of the prophets and repent of their sin (35:15).

Because of their disobedience, God warned, “I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered” (35:17).

Jeremiah 35 closes with the LORD affirming to the sons of Rechab that their faithfulness and spiritual integrity (35:18) would be rewarded with God assuring that there would always be a godly man numbered in their lineage (35:19).

Jeremiah 36 – The Word of the LORD Despised, Rejected, and Burned with Fire

Unable to go to the Temple to declare the Word of the LORD, God commanded Jeremiah to employ a secretary, a scribe named Baruch, who was instructed to write in a scroll, “all the words of the LORD, which he [the LORD] had spoken unto him [Jeremiah]” (36:4). Jeremiah instructed Baruch to go to the Temple and read the words written in the scroll and call upon the people to “return every one from his evil way” (36:6-7). Baruch obeyed Jeremiah and read the inspired words of the scroll “in the ears of all the people” (36:8-10).

When Baruch had finished reading, he was summoned by the elders (the princes of Judah) to account for the origin of Jeremiah’s words saying, “How didst thou write all these words at his mouth” (36:17). Baruch declared concerning Jeremiah that he “pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book” (36:18).

Careful to leave Baruch’s scroll in the chamber of Elishama, a scribe, the princes of Judah took the message of the scroll to King Jehoiakim who demanded the scroll be retrieved and read in his presence (36:20-21).

As a man named Jehudi began reading the scroll (36:21-22), the king became enraged and slashed the leaves of the scroll with a knife and then “cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth” (36:23). Rather than repent of their sins, the hearts of the king and his servants were so calloused that “they were not afraid, nor rent their garments” (36:24).

The LORD then commanded Jeremiah a second time to take a roll and write again the words which were contained in the first scroll “which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned” (36:28). Added to the words of the scroll was a threefold prophecy against Jerusalem and the King Jehoiakim:

Babylon would conquer and destroy Judah (36:29); the king would not be succeeded by a son (36:30a); and as the king had despised the scroll upon which the Word of the LORD was written, his dead body would not be afforded the honorable burial of a king (36:30b).

Jeremiah 37 – The Reward of a Faithful Prophet: Accused, Treated with Disdain, Beaten and Imprisoned.

We are introduced to King Zedekiah in chapter 37 and he is the last king to reign before the fall of Jerusalem (37:1-13). Zedekiah was little more than a puppet who served at the pleasure of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

As the armies of the Chaldeans and the Egyptians clashed over the spoils of Judah (37:4-7), King Zedekiah hypocritically called upon Jeremiah saying, “Pray now unto the LORD our God for us” (37:3). Rather than prayer, the LORD directed Jeremiah to warn Zedekiah that the Chaldeans would soon burn the city (37:6-10).

Rather than the nation repenting and turning to the LORD, the people turned on Jeremiah and accused him of betraying Judah and siding with the Chaldeans (37:11-13).

In spite of his protests that their accusations were false (37:14), the people took Jeremiah, beat him, and cast him into prison where he remained (37:11-21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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