Heed Godís Word

Explore the Bible Series

May 1, 2005

 

Background Passage: Jeremiah 34:1-36:32

Lesson Passage: Jeremiah 36:1-4, 14-16, 22-25, 29-30

 

Introduction: I grew up in a wonderful Christian home, and my parents taught me to love and obey Godís word.We regularly attended worship (my father was my pastor), and I remember, from my earliest years, my mother helping me find the text for the Lordís Day services.The crisp India paper crinkled a bit as I searched for the sermon text, and, even before I could read, I ďfollowed alongĒ as the congregation savored the words of the Bible.Mom and Dad also taught me to respect the particular copy of the Bible I used.They never allowed me to treat the Bible roughly or with disrespect.As I look back on those experiences, I realize that they wanted me to take care of my belongings in a respectful and responsible manner.However, they also wanted to send their little boy a message about the content of the wonderful book of God.

 

My parents did not have a superstitious understanding about a collection of paper and leather; rather, they wanted their child to honor the physical copy of the Bible as a token of reverence for the message of the Scriptures.To them, the Bible was precious, and Godís people needed to treasure it like no other book.Not only did they ensure my attendance to public instruction in the Scriptures (which they did scrupulously), but also they demonstrated a love for Godís word in our home.For example, I often saw my beloved mother sitting on the side of her bed reading the Bible and praying.†† The image of her studying the Scriptures will stay with me as long as God gives me a sound mind, and I treasure that memory more than I could recount.

 

The people of Judah did not highly regard the Lordís word.This weekís text gives further evidence of the sinful neglect of these privileged people.Chapter Thirty-Four records another example of their disregard and disobedience to Godís revealed will.The Hebrews continued to oppress and abuse their own people (in blatant disregard for Godís commandments), and, despite a brief period of repentance, they quickly returned to their disgraceful treatment of their countrymen.Thankfully, Chapter Thirty-Five tells the story of the Rechabites, the descendents of the Kenites, and their faithful obedience to the Lord.Obedient people were rare in sixth-century Judah.Sadly, this section of the Book of Jeremiah concludes with the disheartening story of King Jehoiakim.This wicked man hated the message of Jeremiah, and ordered his servants to destroy the scroll that the prophet had sent to the ungodly monarch.Jehoiakimís abuse of the scroll indicated his contempt for the content of Jeremiahís message.The scroll was destroyed, but the truth of the prophetís words proved unassailable.

 

Please recall, as you study the background passage, that the Book of Jeremiah does not follow a strictly chronological development; rather, the book is organized around theological and topical themes.Remembering this will help to avoid confusion as you study.

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                    The Peopleís Shameful Treatment of their Kinsmen (34:1-22)

A.     Godís promises concerning King Zedekiah (vv. 1-7)

1.      The Babylonians will destroy Jerusalem by siege and fire (v.1-2).

2.      Nebuchadnezzar will bring King Zedekiah to Babylon, and the two kings will meet face to face (Hebrew says, ďmouth to mouthĒ) (v. 3).

3.      God promised that Zedekiah would not die violently (vv. 4-5).

4.      Jeremiah recorded a brief military account of Babylonís conquest in Judah (vv. 6-7).

B.     The enslavement of some of the people of Judah (vv. 8-22)

1.      In violation of the Mosaic Law, the people of Judah held their kinsmen in slavery (vv. 8-9).See the laws concerning servitude in Exodus 21:1-11, Leviticus 25:39-55, and Deuteronomy 15:12-18.

2.      Judah, during a season of crisis, temporarily obeyed Godís commands (vv. 10-11).

3.      The prophet reminded Judah of the Lordís commandments concerning servitude (vv. 12-16)

4.      God promised to judge Judah for its sinful treatment of slaves (vv. 17-22).

 

II.                 Jeremiahís Offer of Wine to the Rechabites (35:1-19)

A.     God told Jeremiah to offer wine, in the Temple, to the Rechabites, descendants of the Kenites who had sworn to never drink wine, live in cities, or tend vineyards (vv. 1-5 and see II Kings 10:15-31)

B.     The Rechabites refused the offer of Jeremiah because they wanted to honor the vows of their ancestors (vv.6-11).

1.      The history of the obedience of the Rechabites (vv. 6-10)

2.      The Rechabites reason for entering Jerusalem (v. 11)

C.     God commended the Rechabites for their faithfulness (vv. 12-14).

D.     God accused the people of Judah of unfaithfulness to the heritage of their fathers (vv. 15-17).

E.      The Lord pledged to bless the Rechabites (vv. 18-19).

 

III.               Jehoikimís Destruction of the Scroll of Jeremiah (36:1-32)

A.     God commanded Jeremiah to write all of the words the Lord had spoken against Israel and Judah (vv. 1-3).

1.      Jeremiah was to record all of Godís prophecies since the time of King Josiah (vv.1-2).

2.      God intended these writings to move his people to repentance (v.3).

B.     Jeremiah enlisted Baruch to write the words of the prophecy and read the scroll to the people (vv. 4-8).

C.     Baruch fulfilled his commission to read the words of the prophecy to the people of Judah (vv. 9-19).

1.      Baruch read the scroll in the Temple, near the New Gate (vv. 9-10).

2.      Michaiah reported Baruchís activity to King Jehoiakim and the princes of Judah (vv. 11-13).

3.      The princes of Judah bid Baruch to read the scroll to them (vv. 14-19).

D.     King Jehoiakim cut the scroll into pieces and cast the fragments in the fire (v. 25).

E.      The king ordered the arrest of Baruch and Jeremiah (vv. 26-27).

F.      God commanded Jeremiah to write the prophecy on another scroll (vv. 28-32).

1.      The burning of the scroll brought terrible predictions of judgment on King Jehoiakim (vv. 27-31).

2.      Jeremiah and Baruch obeyed the Lord (v. 32).

 

 

Observations about the Lesson Passage:

 

  1. Ungodly men hate the word of God.It has ever been the case that the wicked detest the revelation of Godís will.King Jehoiakim, after four years of ruling Judah, had little patience with Jeremiahís writings. Certainly, the king must have known of the preaching of the prophet, but the written word seemed to engender particular irritation.Jehoiakim incarcerated Jeremiah and destroyed the scroll of the prophet.
  2. The destruction of the scroll of Baruch did not alter the message God sent to Judah.Jehoikimís silly display of anger reveals how little he understood about the prophetís work and the unchangeable and inviolable word of God.Contemporary efforts to discredit or destroy the word of God will meet with a similar fate.
  3. Baruch and Jeremiah remained patient and steadfast in their task.The initial mauscript of the scroll may have taken months to produce; nevertheless, when the king destroyed the scroll, these two godly men simply went back to work on a replacement copy.The text gives not the slightest hint of irritation or agitation.They did not retaliate or chafe at the kingís foolish and destructive actions; rather, they just continued to obey God.
  4. The two servants of the Lord left the king in the hands of the Lord.So often, when Godís servants experience hardship and opposition to their work, they may be tempted to grow discouraged or angry.Jeremiah and Baruch gave no indication of such attitudes.They remained faithful to their task, despite the hardships they endured.Moreover, they left their vindication in the hands of the Lord.