Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying, 28 “Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned. 29 And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the LORD, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will make man and beast to cease from it?’” 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 also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them—but they did not listen.”’” 32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.
The prophet Jeremiah followed God’s instruction and delivered His message to King Jehoiakim of Judah (36:1-26). Unless they turned from their wickedness, they would be destroyed (36:3). However, the king was not interested in heeding those words of warning from Jeremiah’s God. Instead, he ripped up the scrolls that Baruch read from and burned them in his fireplace, piece by piece (36:22-23).
The Word of God has always been offensive to those who are walking in the flesh. For those outside of a relationship with God, His Word seems like folly and is often dismissed for personal preferences and desires. Yet, just because the king chose to burn the scrolls doesn’t mean the Word of God was snuffed out. His Word remains, no matter our response. Jehoiakim still had to respond to God’s words, even if he tried to put them out of sight and out of mind. He would still reap the consequences of his disobedience. Though we might plug our ears like a toddler, God’s Word will continue to be true and to go forth. Jeremiah demonstrated what faithfulness to put forth that message looked like, even at great cost to himself.
It will always be tempting to give up or give in when it comes to communicating God’s Word. Even when it comes to having simple gospel conversations in our day-to-day lives, not everyone will want to hear or be receptive. Some will be passive, and some might be hostile. In any case, when the proverbial scroll is burned up in front of us, we might just want to move on and not ruffle any more feathers. We might want to leave that to the Jeremiahs of the world. But God called Jeremiah to take another scroll and write down His words once again. Likewise, He calls us to keep sharing and to keep speaking the truth in love to those around us who are desperate for it.
• Have you tried sharing your faith with someone who rejected it? What was your response?
• What does Jeremiah’s experience teach you about engaging others with the gospel? How does his story challenge you?
• Thank God for Jeremiah and others who have endured great suffering for the gospel. Ask Him for a renewed urgency to speak the truth in love in our daily lives, even to those who may not be ready or receptive yet.