REFUSING to LISTEN to God’s WORD will bring God’s JUDGMENT: 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." (Jer. 36:30-31)
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, God commanded prophet Jeremiah to write down all the prophecies which he had delivered by dictating them to the scribe Baruch. These prophecies would be read by him publicly at the temple a year later. When the princes who heard these prophecies reported this matter to king Jehoiakim, he sent for the scroll. As God’s Word was read aloud to the king sitting at his court, he immediately started cutting off portions of the scroll and throwing them right into the fire! This was an act of defiance by the king as he refused to listen to God’s Word!
We need to understand that Jehoiakim was a godless king who ruled by greed, dishonesty, oppression, and injustice (22:13–19). He murdered the prophet Urijah and made numerous attempts of the lives of Jeremiah and Baruch, who escaped death only through God’s protection and the protection of their friends in high places (26:20–24; 36:19, 26). Jehoiakim demonstrated his disdain for God’s Word by burning the scroll. However, after the king had burned the scroll, Jeremiah rewrote all the prophecies and then added another section that listed the fearful judgment that king Jehoiakim was going to face in the future!
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this event was lack of godly fear of the entire royal court. They were not afraid of God’s message (v. 24). Although three members of the court appealed to save the scroll, the plea was to no avail (v. 25). The king should have copied the Law for himself (Deut. 17:18–20) and heeded its message, but instead he destroyed it. Unlike the godly Josiah who repented at the hearing of the Lord’s message on a scroll (2 Kings 22:10, 11), the godless Jehoiakim brought God’s judgment upon himself by destroying the scroll. Although Jehoiakim could burn the scroll of Jeremiah, he could not destroy the Word of God that is alive and well today! "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Heb 4:12)
Since Jehoiakim refused to listen to God’s Word, God’s judgment was pronounced against him. First, the Davidic lineage would not continue through him. His son Jehoiachin would rule for only three months before he died. Second, the king’s body would be treated disgracefully after his death. As the king had cast the scroll into the fire, so his body would be cast from the royal palace, and he would not receive a proper burial (see 22:18–19). Third, the royal household would experience the destructive judgment that had been proclaimed in the words of the original scroll. This literally happened and they were deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon thereafter (see 2 Kings 24:8, 12, 15).
The same God’s Word that Jehoiakim tried to destroy centuries ago endures even today, and will do so forever: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Even today, God is speaking to us through His Word, through His servants, through events in our lives, through nature, and even directly through dreams and visions. Let us not be like Jehoiakim who refused to listen to God’s Word, but rather incline our ears to God and walk daily following His instructions. This is what God truly requires from us.