Jeremiah 36, ‘Wickedness, the Word, Persecution’, October 8th 2023

Jeremiah 36, ‘Wickedness, the Word, Persecution’, October 8th 2023

Jeremiah 36:v1-10, 14-28.

Revelation 19.

Also Mark 13:v3-11.

We enter our last stage of journey through Jeremiah, as we finish at the end of this month. We will hear about the final years of Jerusalem, the siege, destruction, exile and the escape to Egypt…

But, suddenly the scroll flips back to fourth year of Jehoiakim. A significant year – it is helpful to read Jeremiah 25 which is set also in the same year, as is Jeremiah 45.

605 BC. 20 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

In Jer 25, the statement of 70 year exile is made. We hear God still offering hope to the nation.  By the 4th year, Jeremiah’s ministry has lasted 23 years. It has become clear and confirmed in this chapter, that the reforms of Josiah, will not last and have not lasted. God asks Jeremiah to speak again, to remind the nation of all he has been saying…

What will the nation do? Wickedness, the Word, Persecution


Jeremiah to speak. Baruch to write down and later to read out.

God’s aim – that they would hear and may respond.

Perhaps – says God – that each of them will turn from their wicked way and I will forgive their wickedness and sin. V3.

Jeremiah talks to Baruch and repeats the plan to him.

 ‘v7 Perhaps they will bring their petition before the LORD and each will turn from their wicked ways…

Repetition is a way in Hebrew writing to make a point.

Twice we hear: If they will turn and respond …

Wickedness of the people is to be confronted.

Confronted with the word.

Promise that repentance can make a difference.

Hope still is there.

Wickedness. Mark promises that wickedness will happen – wars, rumours of wars…  and yet the Lord remains in control.

Revelation. 19. Points to a day of final judgement.

 That evil will not have the last word. God will not allow it to be undealt with. There are consequences to sin. Those who persist in sin, face consequences. A picture of that is in Jer 36 and what Jehoiakim will face because of what he has done.

– Ultimate consequences of sin fall on those who do not repent.

– Satan, evil, does not have the final word – but will be utterly destroyed,

from the universe.

– God will deal with all wrongdoing – all things will be put right.

– Judgement is part of the gospel – it is good news. All things will be put right.

The Word.

This image of Jehoiakim. It always makes me think of the Citadel of Minas Tirith seen in Return of the King. And Denethor.

But Denethor is a much older man. Jehoiakim became king when 25 years old. So he is now 30…

But it is an evocative image. He sits there, with a fire burning and he cuts off each part. Jehoiakim has contempt for God’s Word. Note he cuts it. If he had grabbed the whole scroll and thrown it into a fire, that could have been described as maybe, an act of implusive rage. But no, this act is cold, systematic and repeated.

He is, as someone said, the first person who ever offered to burn the Bible.

Jehoikim is in great contrast to his father.

Josiah heard the word. He tore but not a scroll, but his robes.

He did burn things, but in response to God’s word, he revered it and he started a significant reformation of burning the idols etc. You can read about Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23.


Jeremiah is already restricted – he cannot read out his words himself.

Then he is to be hunted down.  It says ‘the LORD had hidden them.’’ The officials had told them to hide and now we learn that despite human searching, they cannot be found by those hunting them…

Jeremiah again is persecuted – a theme that continues in the following chapters 37 and 38 …





Turn from their wicked way and he will forgive their wickedness and sin.

Israel was attacked.   

Murder, to attack, kidnap. Captured Israelies have been paraded on camera. Hamas have gone from home to home seeking victims. Rocket attack – hundreds fired.  300 plus dead, over 1600 wounded. The charter of Hamas is clear – it is committed to the destruction of Israel. Terrible scenes. People in fear as the sirens have gone off. People told to remain indoors and in their safe rooms in certain areas… Scenes of wickedness, evil in the land.

How to respond. For some here it may have been stressful as you have friends, family in Israel and you have wanted to know they are safe.  Wickedness is wickedness. What is seen has no excuse. It is the same as Brussels, Nice, acts of violence by Russians against the innocent in Ukraine, or in Democratic Republic of Congo or what Nigerian Christians have faced often in the north of their land – murder, violence, kidnapping .

What possible response?  God’s heart – that God desires a wicked person to turn from their ways. He will forgive.

 Jesus taught: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Years ago, I read some prayer points from the Anglican Bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The church was under pressure and suffering greatly from the Boko Haram attacks. The number  1 prayer point was to pray for the leader – but not that he would seek peace, or perhaps fall down dead – he would know and worship Jesus – the Prince of Peace. That opened my eyes.

We may be praying for the protection of Israel, for violence to end, the safe return of the hostages, the comfort of the bereaved and injured, for wisdom in response for govt and armed forces.

But we pray also for those who have committed wicked acts and pray they would be confronted with God’s truth, and turn from wicked ways and turn to Christ. We pray also for the salvation of Hamas leaders, the terrorists, for them to turn to Christ…

You may say – there is no way they would turn to Jesus. Well, I probably would have said the same about ISIS, but I have heard a number of stories of conversions ISIS leaders coming to Jesus…

The Word.

Yesterday when the attacks began, it was the morning of Simhat Torah – translated as Joy of Torah.  This is a Jewish holiday held on the last day of Sukkot – feast of tabernacles. In the past week, all across Israel, families have been gathering in their Sukkas which are small booths, in order to mark the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. We hear of this festival in Leviticus 23.

Simhat Torah began in after sunset last night and ends with sunset today. There is celebration of the completion of the annual reading of the Torah in the synagogue. A new cycle will now begin, starting with Genesis. A day of appreciating God’s Word.

Jehoiakim  does not appreciate, but cuts out the bible.

We would never do that…

Would we every do that?

Could we ever hear a part of God’s word and then disregard it.

James warns us. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

James warns, that while we do not act like Jehoiakim. We can disregard the Word.

Jesus says the same doesn’t he

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We can hear it, but then ignore it, or simply do nothing about it.

So we need to ask God to search our hearts.

Are there parts of the Bible we are cutting out – when we encounter it, we pretend or ignore it is there. We cut it out.

Or are we disregarding God’s word in the way Jesus and James warn us.

We hear it but actually then don’t put it into practice. Why is that?

If that is what is going on, why do we do it?

 That is a real challenge.


Jeremiah, now a man persecuted. Remember, Jeremiah is persecuted and Baruch because – they are simply obedient, faithfully following the Lord God, and sharing his word…

He has to go into hiding after sharing God’s truth. It reminds again of our persecuted brothers and sisters today who because they hold firmly to the word of Christ, who follow Christ, who face persecution; those who are in fact enemies of the rulers of the regime.

It has been said Jehoiakim was the first person we read of, that burned the bible…

Last month, thousands of Muslim extremists brought devastation to Christians in Jaranwala, Pakistan, by attacking more than 20 churches and almost a hundred homes in response to allegations that two believers had desecrated the Quran. The awful incident has affected more than 1,600 people.

“Our church is very small,” says Sara*. “We normally must split our church into those who sit outside and those who can fit inside. Our musicians and the pastor must speak loud enough so that those outside can also hear.

The church is near to a mosque where thousands had gathered to attack. It meant that Sara and others couldn’t flee. “We only had each other,” she says. 

“Hundreds rushed to the church, and we watched in horror from our homes as they destroyed each part of the church,” she recalls.

 “Some had mallets, sledgehammers, pickaxes and axes, and others had metal rods and wooden sticks. They piled up the Bibles and hymn books and set them on fire. They smashed the furniture and poured fuel over the small worship area.”

We had a Klusdag yesterday. People came to build up the church.

Last months, crowds came to tear down the church, and piled up bibles and burned them.

Asad, another Pakistani Christian shared:

He could see his church as well as another nearby church. “I saw them immediately target the church in the next street,” he recalls. “They took anything that could be sold and loaded it onto trucks. They then poured acid over the items. I saw them trample the crosses and Bibles. I saw them throw the Bibles out onto the street and jump on them. It looked like they had no sense at all – just blind hate. They poured fuel from their petrol bombs, lit the Bibles on fire, and watched them burn, only walking away when satisfied.”

The Word of God burned. Just last month. In Pakistan. A lived experience not just something from 2600 years ago…

Jeremiah’s experience – support those persecuted, pray for those in hiding now, pray for those who will tomorrow face the threats, the searches of the rules against them…1 in 8 Christians today, where they live, face the daily possibility of high, or very high levels of persecution.


The Word


Shall we pray. 

In Silence…