The Word of God plays the starring role in this drama. God’s Word is written on a scroll and touches several hands along its journey. The scroll is dictated by Jeremiah, read by Baruch, heard by the people, stored with Elishama, retrieved by Jehudi, and cut up and burned by King Jehoiakim. But that is not the end of its journey. Jeremiah again dictates it, and here we go again. This text ends with a chapter – a promise – that actually precedes these events, although after these events the promise remained. The promise was that God would not keep God’s words contained to scrolls which, clearly, could be destroyed. Instead, God would write God’s words upon the hearts of those who were faithful to God. With God’s word came a promise of redemption and renewal.
God claimed that it would no longer be necessary to teach about the Lord because all people would know the Lord in their hearts. It has been my experience that all people have a God-shaped hole inside them. All people exist with a longing to search for meaning and purpose. The only thing that seems to fulfill that longing (though many try to fill it with success, addiction, relationships, money, and so many other things) is God. The only times I have felt truly at peace have not been with money, alcohol, or achievement, but when I have been at one with God – in sync, on the same page, at peace. For me, these are fleeting moments, but they are enough to keep me searching for more. More peace, more joy, more God.
Jeremiah 36:1-8, 21-23, 27-28; then 31:31-34:
In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 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 when the house of Judah hears of all the disasters that I intend to do to them, all of them may turn from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words of the Lord that he had spoken to him. And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, “I am prevented from entering the house of the Lord; so you go yourself, and on a fast day in the hearing of the people in the Lord’s house you shall read the words of the Lord from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the people of Judah who come up from their towns. It may be that their plea will come before the Lord, and that all of them will turn from their evil ways, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” And Baruch son of Neriah did all that the prophet Jeremiah ordered him about reading from the scroll the words of the Lord in the Lord’s house. Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary; and Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in his winter apartment (it was the ninth month), and there was a fire burning in the brazier before him. As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a penknife and throw them into the fire in the brazier, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. Now, after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which King Jehoiakim of Judah has burned.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.