TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 34-38
OVERVIEW: God’s faithfulness to the Davidic Covenant (34:1-11); Israel’s unfaithfulness to their fellow countrymen (34:12-22); Israel’s unfaithfulness to their God (35:1-19); Israel’s rejection of God’s Word (36:1-32); Jeremiah preaches against a false sense of security and self-deception (37:1-10); Jeremiah is imprisoned (37:11-21); Jeremiah is delivered (38:1-16); Jeremiah presents Zedekiah’s alternatives (38:17-28).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
We enter into the second and third sections of the Book of Jeremiah in today’s reading. Whereas the first 33 chapters detailed the fate of Judah, chapters 34 and 35 detail the fate of Jerusalem, and chapter 36 to the end of the Book is basically the detailing of the fate of the Gentile nations. This is the fulfillment of what God said to Jeremiah when He first called him: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee A PROPHET UNTO THE NATIONS…See, I have this day SET THEE OVER THE NATIONS AND OVER THE KINGDOMS, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant." (1:5,10).
As chapter 34 opens, Babylon is about to overtake Jerusalem. God tells Jeremiah to go and tell King Zedekiah that the city would in fact fall to the Babylonians, but that he would not be killed in the invasion. The fact that God was willing to spare this wicked king’s life is not only a testimony of God’s mercy and grace, but a testimony of His faithfulness to keep His promises. As we have talked about, in the Davidic Covenant God had promised that David’s lineage would survive. Though the covenant was obscured in the fact that David’s kingly line would actually live in exile, the covenant was not revoked.
In verses 12-22 of chapter 34 God speaks through Jeremiah to show Israel that they had not been faithful to one another in the fact that they had not obeyed His plan for releasing on the seventh year, those who for financial reasons sold themselves into slavery. In chapter 35, he uses the example of the faithfulness of the Rechabite family to reveal to Israel their unfaithfulness to Him. In the same way that the family of Rechab stood as a shining light in the midst of the darkness in Jeremiah’s day, may our families likewise bring glory to God against the “lukewarmness” (Rev. 3:15-17) and apostacy (I Tim. 4:1) of our day!
Chapter 36 is an absolute classic in terms of revealing the divisiveness of the Word of God, and its utter indestructibility! Because Jeremiah had been forbidden to enter the Temple (36:5), he was forced to dictate the words of Lord for Baruch the Scribe to write into a scroll and deliver to the leaders of Israel, once again, calling for Israel’s repentance. The words were so powerful that the Temple officials sent them to the king. As the words were read to the king by Jehudi, before he could get to the fourth “page,” the king grabs it out of Jehudi’s hand, takes out his pen knife and begins cutting it into shreds, and then threw it into the fire. It’s a very interesting story, and very easy to follow. But there is really more than meets the eye going on here. The chapter actually opens up one of the clearest explanations in the entire Bible about the whole process of the inspiration and preservation of Scripture!
The process of inspiration is described in verses 4 and 6, just how II Peter 1:21 said it happened, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Jeremiah SPOKE his words to Baruch the scribe, but the words Baruch wrote weren’t actually Jeremiah’s words, but the very “WORDS OF THE LORD” (36:4)! Jeremiah restates the process in verse 6 as he says to Baruch: “Go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD.” Almost as if to telegraph the point again, God records the words of the Temple leaders to Baruch in verse 17: “Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?” Baruch responded in verse 18: “He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.”
That is a great simplistic description of the process of inspiration. What Baruch had in written form, were the very words of God — what we have come to call “original manuscripts.” Note what happened in this chapter to the original manuscripts. They were totally destroyed! But remember, God not only “inspired” His Word, but promised to “preserve” it (Psalm 12:6-7; Matt. 5:18)! Though the “original manuscripts” were no longer in existence, God had no problem remembering what they said, and no problem producing a copy that contained “all the words of the book (original manuscript) which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire” (36:32). The reason this is so significant, is that people balk at the very idea that we believe the Bible we are able to actually hold in our hands (as opposed to original manuscripts that do not exist!) is the very word and words of God just as He intended them. Every word (Prov. 30:5)! Hey folks, if God went to the “trouble” of inspiri!
ng His words in/on original manuscripts (that He obviously did not intend to keep in existence or we’d have ‘em!) it certainly is no trouble for Him to preserve them in a Book that we can actually wrap our hands and our lives around! One of the contentions people have when we say that we believe that we have preserved for us “every word of God,” are the italicized words in our King James Bible. (Since there is no such thing as a “word for word” translation because there is no “word for word” equivalency in translating words from one language to another, the King James translators italicized the words that were “added” to convey the meaning of the word from the original language.) Is that a problem for the God who promised to preserve His Word? The last verse of chapter 36 says that not only did the copy God produced contain every single word of the “original,” check this out: “And there were added besides unto them many like words” (36:32).
In chapters 37 and 38, Jeremiah continues to hammer the message of Jerusalem’s destruction per God’s instruction, and is cast into prison for carrying out God’s will. For a more detailed concisement of chapters 37 and 38, refer to the Overview.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
By JEREMIAH, WHO STOOD AS A FAITHFUL WITNESS TO THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD – Jer. 38:2-10 (Matt. 26:59).