At the 5th year and ninth month of Jehoiakim’s reign (see the time transition in verse 9), the grassroots revival was rising up to the neck of the nation to turn it back to God! After many months of Baruch’s ministry (approx. 1 year and 9 months), disseminating the word of God through Jeremiah to all the faithful of the Kingdom of Judah via the circuiting Jews, a major fast was proclaimed. Why? The Nation was turning to God! Take note: only high-authority leaders could call a fast like this one because it was “proclaimed” and “all the people in Jerusalem” and “all the people” visiting were required to participate (Jer. 36:9). This was a special fast for intentional reasons and, judging by how all the Princes were fearing God at the hearing of the words of Jeremiah the intentions of the fast are clear (Jer. 36:16)! This behavior is a radical change from their former behavior before the 1st Captivity, and this is strong evidence of the grassroots revival having an affect unto this special occasion, a citywide fast! The grassroots revival traveled abroad through circuiting Jews in the same way demonstrated in the Jews who humbled themselves to attend the Temple convocations in Hezekiah’s day (2 Chron. 30:10-11, 31:1)? What happened after they gathered together at the Temple in those days? It was written,
“Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.” – 2 Chron. 31:1
The potential for revival by this means should not be underestimated. It was the wisdom of God that the LORD appointed Baruch to read and preach the word of God for the past year and nine months, and what happened? The people were notably humbled (and fasting!), Baruch was openly reading (“in the ears of all the people” – Jer. 36:10), chief authorities proclaimed a special fast and it was thus required that all the people participated, and all the Princes were fearing (especially Delaiah, Elnathan, & Gemariah, and Germiah’s son named Michaiah)! Shockingly, though, with all this momentum the revival made its way to the King’s Court and HE STRUCK IT DOWN! According to the Historical Record, Michaiah heard the word, he shared it with all the Princes, the Princes called Baruch to hear the word themselves and were moved with fear. Showing contemplation and intentionality, the Princes commanded Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves (Jer. 36:19) because they were going to make a move to try to turn the Nation back to God by bringing Jeremiah’s prophecies before the King, and if the King responded ill then Jeremiah and Baruch would be preserved from harm. Demonstrating the collaborated effort, it was recorded, “And Jehudi read it in the ears of the King, and in the ears of all the Princes which stood beside the King” (Jer. 36:21). See, all of them were unitedly standing by! They had already heard the word themselves, mind you (Jer. 36:16). In a Nation almost turned back to God, Jehoiakim was the last man standing!
Why were all the Princes afraid when they heard afresh the prophecies of Jeremiah? Because Jeremiah’s word came true AGAINST ALL THE WORDS of the Prophets and Priests of so called “THE REMNANT” that was in leadership. They felt lied to and shaken from their former confidences because they watched Babylon invade the region, defeated Egypt, overtake Egyptian sovereignty over Judah, and take Captive a multitude of Jews just as Jeremiah had prophesied! Ah, these treacherous false prophets! The Princes remembered clearly how deception flourished through the winsome words of false prophets, amassed in droves, every one of them attempting to drown-out the lonely, weeping, running, and crying Prophet whom God had sent. Jeremiah was the only man on earth who was prophesying of the Babylonian Captivities and the utter destruction of the Kingdom of Judah! Fearfully, though, despite all of this! Jehoiakim burned the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecy, saying, “Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this Land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?” Jehoiakim! The same man who, at 12 years old, beheld Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Josiah usher the City of Jerusalem into the Presence of God (2 Chron. 34:33)! Yes, with only 5 years of rebellion against God under his belt, the young King was deranged and deluded to revolt against the aged Prophet, Jeremiah, the companion of his father Josiah! Remember that Jehoiakim walked in obedience to the LORD from years 12 to 25 (2 Chron. 34:33), and now this!
Because of Jehoiakim’s murderous anger, Jeremiah went into further and even more intentional hiding at the charge of the Princes who feared for his life (Jer. 36:19). Jehoiakim fully turned upon Jeremiah like he did to Urijah the Prophet (Jer. 26:20-23). Alas! Jehoiakim’s actions were bold and highhanded provocations against the correcting hand of God who brought the Armies of Babylon to the very gates of Jerusalem! …but, you see, Jehoiakim wrongly believed that the Armies of Babylon wouldn’t return for war anymore. Though the 30-year-old King did thus, Jehoiakim was not bold enough to break the tributary agreement with Babylon. Not yet. Jehoiakim continued in the tributary agreement for 3 years of faithful servitude (2 Kings 24:1; from the 4th year to the 7th year of Jehoiakim’s reign), and… at last, after another year and three months of thinking, “Peace, peace” (Jer. 8:11), and, hearing, “Sword and famine shall not be in the Land” (Jer. 14:15), and, “We are delivered to do all these abominations” (Jer. 7:10), the false prophets prevailed upon Jehoiakim to erroneously seek the Covenantal Ideal of “liberty” from Babylon, so he thought …when, in reality, they “looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble” (Jer. 8:15). BABYLON CAME!
Once again, according to the operation of Glory demonstrated theretofore, the glory of God in the Tribulation Period, the LORD was personally offended and personally interactive with the backslidden King. The man, Jehoiakim, who dared to BURN THE WORD OF GOD, was confronted by God for what he did. Shockingly, the LORD was looking, listening, seeing, hearing, responding, and prophetically declaring His retaliation! The LORD quoted Jehoiakim and then told him how HE WAS GOING TO KILL HIM, what He would do with his dead body, and how He would punish His servants and his seed! Read it, my reader… and fear. Give glory to God!
“And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.” – Jer. 36:29-31
An incomplete revival was followed by a completely successful apostasy, can you believe it? Jehoiakim’s actions were paramount, indeed, but he was not alone in the madness. The last and final word delivered to the Kingdom of Judah during Jehoiakim’s reign, contained in Jeremiah 14:1-17:18, will shed more light on how this sudden and successful apostasy was achieved. In it, God will quote and confront the other individuals who partnered with and confirmed Jehoiakim’s high-handed rebellion against God – YOU BETTER BELIEVE GOD HAS SOME CHOICE WORDS FOR THEM! Wagg your head and it, my reader… and fear.
A major fast called by leaders / authorities and required by all – Jer. 36:9
Notable leaders / Princes feared God above all other Princes (Delaiah, Elnathan, Germariah, & his son Michaiah) – Jer. 36:11-12, 25
All the Princes were unitedly fearing God! – Jer. 36:16
A bold attempt to turn the Nation back to God was made by ALL THE PRINCES (and meanwhile they protected Jeremiah and Baruch) – Jer. 36:19
The King and his servants weren’t afraid – Jer. 36:24
Jehoiakim commanded the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch – Jer. 36:26
God looked, listened, quoted, responded, and promised to retaliate the direct provocation of Jehoiakim! – Jer. 36:27-32