The Lord tells Jeremiah that He is about to pour out His anger on all the nations beginning with His own people, Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. He says although the people may not want to drink from His cup of wrath they most certainly will – “For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth.”
During the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, the Lord says to Jeremiah: “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
So Jeremiah has Baruch, a scribe, write the scroll. Then Jeremiah instructs Baruch to read the scroll “in the hearing of the people in the Lord’s house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities. It may be that they will present their supplication before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way.”
When Judah’s officials hear the words, they look in fear at one another and say they will take these words to King Jehoiakam. However, King Jehoiakim does not fear the word of the Lord; instead, he takes the scroll, tears it up and burns it. Then he tries to seize Baruch and Jeremiah, but the Lord protects them.
The Lord instructs Jeremiah to prepare another scroll with the same words and say — “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?’ 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. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed.’” Soon in the story, Babylon is going to invade Jerusalem and take Jehoiakim, his family, and his servants into captivity. Then the king of Babylon will place another descendant of King David as king of Judah (2 Kings 24:10-17).
At the hearing of the message of destruction that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, Baruch says “Woe is me now! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” Therefore the Lord says to Baruch – “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh… But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”
Baruch is discouraged by his personal suffering and by the chaos that is surrounding him. He was hoping for great things for himself, but the Lord tells him that there is no life to be found in exalting yourself. True life is only found in trusting the Lord and exalting His Name.
Jeremiah continues to announce judgment against other nations, but the Lord gives great hope for His people – “‘I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid. Do not fear, O Jacob My servant,’ says the Lord, ‘For I am with you; for I will make a complete end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, for I will not leave you wholly unpunished.’”
Tomorrow the Divided Kingdom Era comes to an end as we enter the Captivity Era. Keep reading. (Jeremiah 25:15-38, Jeremiah 36:1-32, Jeremiah 45:1-46:28)