Trying to Stop the Word of God
As dark days fell upon the ill-fated city of Jerusalem, God in His mercy once more sent words of warning for the Jews in the city—warnings to heed His grace and return to Him. "Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that every one may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin" (36:2-3).
Because he was confined, Jeremiah was unable to deliver the message himself. But, he asked his scribe, Baruch, to take the written scroll to the people in the temple. After he did this, he was asked to read the message before the princes of Judah, who determined the king needed to hear the oracle of Jeremiah from Yahweh. Sending Baruch away for his safety, the scroll was read by Jehudi to the king. "As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments" (36:23-24).
The king's response to the message of God was not and is not unusual. Throughout the Bible, men always tried to find ways to stop the word of God—whether it was through stopping their ears (Acts 7:57) or by persecuting the messengers (Matthew 5:12), people thought that by stopping God's words, they would negate their obligation to obey. Paul warned the evangelist Timothy that such a pattern would continue. "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" (2 Timothy 4:2-4). People today try to silence the word of God—advocates of homosexuality try to say it is "hate-speech" to proclaim the truth about that sinful lifestyle; modernists try to say it is irrelevant to our lives today; and some never assemble where it is taught or pick up a Bible to read it, effectively stopping its influence on them. But, they cannot stop their responsibility to obey it any more than King Jehoiakim did when he burned God's message in the fireplace.
Of course, the king was unable to stop the word of God. God instructed Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same message, this time with a condemnation of Jehoiakim's efforts and a prophesy against the king and his family. Those things came to pass when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, just as God had warned. If only they had listened. True are the words of Isaiah 55:10-11, "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Are you listening to God's message today, beloved, or are you trying to silence it? You will be no more successful than Judah's foolish king, and like he, others may—family, loved ones—may suffer as a result. Let's stop trying to silence God and listen.