Jeremiah 32–36: Disaster & Restoration

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 19: Friday

“For thus says Yahweh, ‘Just as I brought all this great evil on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them. Thus fields will be bought in this land of which you all are saying, “It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.”
Men will buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,’ declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah 32:42–44 LSB

Friday’s Bible reading of Jeremiah 32–36, includes events and prophecies during the reigns of two different kings. The chapters are not in chronological order. Chapters 32–34 are from the reign of Zedekiah, and chapters 35–36 are from the reign of Jehoiakim. (See Jeremiah 22–26: Good Figs & Bad Figs for a geneaology chart).

“Jerusalem fell, after a siege of two months in March 597 BC (2 Ki. 23:36ff.). Jehoiakim had died shortly before; Jehoiachin, his son and successor, was carried captive to Babylon with some of his people (2 Ki. 24:8ff.). Zedekiah was given the throne of Judah as a vassal of Babylon, although Jehoiachin, his nephew, was considered king in exile.”1

Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar will lead to the burning of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and those people still remaining in Judah, except for the poorest in the land, will be taken captive into Babylon. (cf. 2 Kings 24–25).2

As I was reading chapters 32–34, I noticed again God’s promise of judgment on Judah for her sin. You will also find God’s promise to Judah of restoration—in chapter 32, God even has Jeremiah buy a field and have the deeds kept to illustrate His promise that He will bring His people back to their land, and that once again they will buy fields. This takes place in the tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign—during the final siege (cf. 2 Kings 25). Think of that—Jeremiah is commanded to buy a field even as the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem! At the end of chapter 33, God reiterates His covenant with David, and His promise of Messiah.

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares Yahweh, ‘when I will establish the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to branch forth; and He shall do justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell in security; and this is the name by which she will be called: Yahweh is our righteousness.’ For thus says Yahweh, ‘David shall not have a man cut off from sitting on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall not have a man cut off from before Me who is to offer burnt offerings, to offer up grain offerings in smoke, and to perform sacrifices continually.’”
Jeremiah 33:14–18 LSB

Chapter 34 contains specific prophecy regarding Zedekiah. Chapters 35–36 return the narration to the reign of Jehoiakim. In chapter 35, the Lord contrasts the obedience of the Rechabites to their father, Jonadab, with the disobedience of Judah to the Lord.

At the beginning of Jeremiah 36, God tells him to write down all God has said to him.

Now it happened that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,
“Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I devise to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of Yahweh which He had spoken to him.
Jeremiah 36:1-4 LSB

Chapter 36 goes on to describe the reaction of the officials upon hearing all God had told Jeremiah, and then Jehoiakim’s rebellion as he takes the Word of God, written by Baruch at Jeremiah’s dictation, cuts it up and throws it in the fire.

And it happened that when Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not in dread, nor did they tear their garments. Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah interceded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but Yahweh hid them.
Jeremiah 36:23–26 LSB

If you go back to Jeremiah 1, you can read those initial words of comin judgment. We don’t know how exactly how much of the text of the scroll Jehoiakim heard before he started cutting it up and burning it, but because he didn’t want to hear of God’s judgment of sin, he wouldn’t hear of God’s call to repentance and all of God’s promises of restoration. In his rebellion, he cut himself off from hope.

God’s Word to Jeremiah was true, and no physical destruction of a scroll by a king could obliterate it or prevent what God had decreed from taking place.

Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying, “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. And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says Yahweh, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and make this land a ruin and will make man and beast to cease from it?’”
Therefore thus says Yahweh 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. And I will also punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the evil that I have spoken about to them⁠—but they did not listen.”’”
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.
Jeremiah 36:27-32 LSB

Some of our most extraordinary lessons on faith in God, and on the truth of God’s Word are in these chapters. In the teeth of destruction with the barbarians literally at the gates, knowing the total disaster that is coming, Jeremiah buys a field because God told him to do so. In Jehoiakim we see a man who attempts, to no avail, to destroy God’s Word that he might stay God’s hand of judgment. From him we can learn that no matter what wicked man may do, God acts and keeps His Word.

These chapters have helped me—they’re stable ground in the midst of difficult times. I encourage you to read them, and I pray God will use them to help you.

Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The King Burns the Scroll of Jeremiah: Bible Primer, Old Testament. Adolf Hult. Public Domain.
1, 2F. Cawley, A. R. Millard, “Jeremiah,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, third ed., D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, London 1970) 626, 650.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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