At the 4th year of Jehoiakim’s reign (Jer. 36:1) and after the 1st Captivity took place (Jer. 46:2), I conclude, for the following reasons: (1st) A new ministerial effort is undertaken because of the rise of persecution, and now that Jeremiah is in hiding, Baruch assumes his ministerial role (Jer. 36:4). The valiant strides of Jeremiah’s preaching and pleading (urgently undertaken just prior to the besiegement of Babylon and the 1st Captivity) ended with Jeremiah being put in the stocks (Jer. 19:14-20:18). Remember, this was the climactic end of Jeremiah seeking to rescue Jerusalem from imminent destruction (Note: he did not know what would happen in the 1st Captivity, nor did he know how many Captivities would transpire thereafter). Jeremiah marched around Jerusalem in public defiance of apostasy amidst strong conspiracy for his murder, a plot which no doubt continued after he was released from the stocks (Jer. 20:3), therefore to prevent an untimely martyrdom he went into hiding at God’s command (“I am shut up; I cannot go into the House of the LORD” – Jer. 36:5). (2nd) Necessarily so, Baruch was called, appointed, and sent forth to minister; and, take note, the historical narrative of Jeremiah 36:1-8 and Jeremiah 36:9-32 are meant to be taken together. There is a clear time-gap in between Jeremiah 36:8 and Jeremiah 36:9, and this is implicit of Baruch’s ongoing success in ministry. Remember, this was just months after Babylon invaded the region, surrounded Jerusalem, and by this time defeated Egypt (Note: the people were allowed travel to and fro from Jerusalem, denoting peace, therefore the besiegement must have been over; “Judah that come out of their Cities” – Jer. 36:6).
After the 1st Captivity took place, one might expect the people to be humbled and fearing. They were! Think of it, my reader. The nation that nobody knew, thought about, or considered, ARRIVED! Having amassed an undefeatable army, the Nation that lonely Jeremiah told them about slew the Army of Egypt (i.e. the confidence of Judah), marched into Jerusalem, spoke an indiscernible language, and took captive all the mighty men of the nation (to the shame of the false prophets who denied that this would happen!). Because of these things, we see a very different behavior displayed by the common people of Judah and Jerusalem in Jeremiah 36:1-8.
What were they doing? They were fasting, praying, and seeking God. Amidst a surge of Jews circuiting Jerusalem for fasting, Jeremiah’s prophesying theretofore was written in a scroll and read in the House of the LORD by Baruch (and thereby spread throughout Jerusalem, no doubt). After the proud and impenitent people were humbled greatly, the word of the LORD to Jeremiah conveyed a renewed hope. Now, God wanted to rehearse before the people ALL THAT WAS PROPHESIED theretofore in hopes that the people would realize that God’s word, against all odds, came to pass and will come to pass. God said,
“It may be that the House of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” – Jer. 36:3
Purposefully, this is the first mention of Jeremiah’s prophesying being written down in a book. It was for Baruch’s ministry! The blood-thirsty King and Jeremiah’s familiars, the Priesthood, couldn’t endure the likes of Jeremiah in public places, so God rerouted the rescue mission to attempt a grassroots revival from an unsuspecting source. “Go thou, and read in the roll”, Jeremiah commanded Baruch (Jer. 36:6). Jeremiah was hopeful! Why? “It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people” (Jer. 35:7). Shocking.
These appeals for mercy were delivered and sincerely hoped for by the LORD – that is, when and if the people comprehend that the 1st Captivity was just the beginning (Jer. 36:3, 7). An incrementally delivered WOE is the Divinely Authored plan so that God would have opportunity to plead with the ready-to-die people over and over again, saying, “why will ye die, O House of Israel” (Ezek. 18:31)! According to the historical account detailed in this Chapter, no small stirring was underway for the next year and 9 months. At least, it was a grassroots revival in its beginnings. At most, the grassroots revival rose to the very neck of the nation to turn the Kingdom back to God!
Nearly 1 year and 9 months of prophesying could have taken place by way of Baruch reading the scroll in the House of the LORD (Jer. 36:1, 9) including any additional prophecies given, like that of Jeremiah 25:1-38, because they could have been added to the Book which was written and used in the reading of Baruch from thenceforth. After 1 year and 9 months transpired, the grassroots revival appeared to culminate in the proclamation of an all-inclusive special fast. Prominent leaders and Princes were fearing and Jeremiah’s prophecies made their way to the Kings Court, the neck of the Nation! But, at last, as we will soon see when we cover Jeremiah 36:9-32, Jehoiakim squelched the fires of revival, intimidated the Princes, and burnt the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophesying. Also, after the King gave commandment to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah (Jer. 36:26), Baruch joined Jeremiah in hiding. Before this, no small work of revival was underway! Here’s what happened…