You don’t read a cookbook looking for the same things you would find in history textbook or vice versa. You expect a different kind of experience from a “beach read” and a suspense-thriller or from a travel guide and a self-help book. What do you expect from the Bible? What kind of book do you think it is? What do you hope to gain from reading it?
Jeremiah 36:1-32 records a story about Scripture and reveals part of the process of how it was written down. In looking at why God instructs Jeremiah to write down His words, we’re going to answer, “What’s so special about the Bible?”
For resources on how to study, I recommend:
- Basics of Bible Interpretation, by Bob Smith – a classic! great for the beginner. Now available FREE online, though I believe you can still buy a paper copy.
- How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart – this is a must have resource; no Bible student should be without and it now comes as an e-book.
- Living by the Book, (Book and Workbook) by Howard G Hendricks & William Hendricks – also available as an ebook and a video series.
- The Joy of Discovery in Bible Study, by Oletta Ward – a classic resource for small groups to work through together; teachers guide is also available.
- Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary and Enough by Kevin DeYoung
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
- The 4th year of Jehoiakim is 605-4 BC
- 36:9 tells us it was read in the temple in the 9th month of Jehoiakim’s fifth year which would be December 604 BC.
- Most likely the scroll contained the oracles proclaimed before 605BC which are found mostly in Jeremiah chapters 1-25 and 46-51.
- The exile happened in three different deportations (see Chronology).
- The first deportation occurred about 605 BC after the Battle of Carchemish when Nebuchadnezzar defeated the combined forces of Assyria and Egypt. The prophet Daniel was in that group of exiles (Jeremiah 46:2; Daniel 1:1-7).
- The second deportation occurred about 598BC when Babylon invaded Jerusalem and took the prophet Ezekiel and about 10,o00 into exile (2 Kings 24:12-17; 2 Chronicles 36:6).
- The third and final deportation occurs in 588 BC when the Babylonian army leveled the entire city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1-18).
- The events in this chapter most likely happen after the Battle of Carchemish and before the first deportation.
- Into this chaos and political strife, the Lord speaks.
- What’s so special about the Bible? 1) It is a divine book. 2) The Lord wrote it so that His people might hear and repent (36:3).
- See also: Matthew 3:1; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 6:7-12
The First Readings
- National fast days were not fixed dates. They were called in response to a crisis or emergency. The emergency could be the sacking of Philistine city of Ashkelon by the Babylonian army.
- Notice the number of people involved in getting the Word out: Jeremiah dictates and Barch writes. Barch reads the scroll. Micaiah hears and takes it to the king’s officials. The officials take the scroll to the king.
- What’s so special about the Bible? 3) It is written in normal human language that ordinary people can and do understand.
- The fact that this book is divine means we SHOULD listen to it. The fact that it is human means that we CAN listen to it.
The King’s Response
- Compare Jehoiakim’s response here with his father, King Josiah’s response in 2 Kings 22-23.
- Josiah turned. Joehoaikim burned the scroll.
- God responds by having Jeremiah written another scroll with “many similar words”s added.
- What’s so special about the Bible? 4) God’s Word will not be destroyed or thwarted.
- Josiah was forgiven because he turned and repented. Jehoiakim was judged because he did not repent.
- That’s the same choice we face.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:14-15
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Previous: 13 Jeremiah 32:1-15 Is hope for real?
Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.