Taking a Penknife to the Word of God – Jeremiah 36

In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet with hope that Judah “may return every man from his evil way” (Jeremiah 36:3).  Baruch recorded on a scroll the words of God, and they were read in the temple and among the princes.  The princes, upon hearing the words of warning, feared and shared the message with the king.  King Jehoiakim sent for the scroll, heard part of it, and then cut it up with a penknife and burned it.  This account has several lessons for us today.

The Word Of The Lord Should Bring Fear Upon The Hearer.

The king and his servants “were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments” (Jeremiah 36:24) On the other hand, the reading of God’s prophecies to the princes wrought fear in their hearts.  Even so, the gospel message today should cause the hearer to respect God and seek the answer to “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37-38). When Simon the sorcerer was confronted by Peter about his sin, his fear is seen in the way that he answered, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (Acts 8:24).  Whether heard by an unbeliever or the Christian, the word of God should bring fear.

There Are Consequences To Not Heeding God’s Word. 

As a result of the king turning deaf ear to the Word and even cutting and burning the scroll, God promised certain destruction upon the king and his family.  Among other judgments pronounced by the Lord, He said, “I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity” (Jeremiah 36:31).  Likewise, those today who choose not to obey the gospel of Christ will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The Word Of The Lord Cannot Be Destroyed. 

Although the king cut and burned the scroll, Jeremiah was directed by God to record it again and add “besides unto them many like words” (Jeremiah 36:32).  In truth, the word of God cannot be destroyed – it “lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).  A man may choose to ignore God’s laws, but that does not change the fact that the law of God is still living and in force and that he will be judged according to it in the last day.

The Lord Will Preserve His Faithful Children. 

God hid Baruch and Jeremiah when the king ordered them to be seized.  Although later imprisoned, God preserved Jeremiah.  Even so today, “The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19), and He will preserve His faithful ones “unto His heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).

The Cutting Continues

Even today, some will use a penknife on the Word.  I knew a preacher who told the story of a man who refused to believe in the necessity of baptism, and after several studies, the man showed how he had cut with scissors passages out of his Bible dealing with baptism.  While only a few would literally cut verses out of their Bible, many will cut them out by willingly ignoring them or refusing to accept their teaching.  Others, who are “untaught and unstable,” “twist to their own destruction” many Scriptures, some that are hard to understand and some that are not (2 Peter 3:16).

Take Acts 16:30-31 for example:  “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”  How many will read these verses as their proof that we are saved by faith-only, and “cut out” 1 Peter 3:21 that says, “corresponding to that, baptism now saves you….”  Are they not using a penknife on the word?

The word of God will continue to endure whether people believe it and obey it or whether they cut it up and burn its written pages.  As for us, let us be careful to take all of what God says, obey it, and store it up in our hearts.

                               -Larry Jones