“Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth” (Jeremiah 36:22-23).
The “Jefferson Bible”, or “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” as it is formally titled, was a book constructed by Thomas Jefferson in the latter years of his life by cutting and pasting (literally with a razor and glue) numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson's condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels which contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages indicating Jesus was divine. Jefferson was not the only national leader who cut away portions of God’s Word with which he disagreed.
During the days of King Jehoiakim’s reign, God had a task for Jeremiah to perform. “Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day’” (Jeremiah 36:1-2). Because he was confined, Jeremiah sends his servant Baruch to read it to the people who come to the Lord’s house (Jeremiah 36:4-7).
God’s purpose in having Jeremiah do this was His desire that His people would repent and turn back to Him: “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin” (Jeremiah 36:3). As Baruch reads God’s Word to the people in the Lord’s house, some of the princes hear news of it and invite Baruch to come to the King’s House to read it to them (Jeremiah 36:8-15). As the princes listen, they are filled with fear as they hear these words (Jeremiah 36:16).
As the opening verses above indicate, the princes encourage the king to hear God’s message. However, Jehoiakim callously takes the scroll containing God’s Word, cuts it up with a scribe’s knife, and casts it into the fire (Jeremiah 36:23). However, the message of God’s Word cannot be avoided so easily. In fact, God instructs Jeremiah, “And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'Thus says the Lord: "You have burned this scroll, saying, 'Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here?' " Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed." ' " (Jeremiah 36:29-31). For Jehoiakim there was no avoiding God’s judgment!
There is no doubt there are many in our world, who like King Jehoiakim of old, try their best to disregard God’s Word. Whether I agree or disagree with what God states in the Scriptures, God’s Word will endure. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Today, I will show respect to God’s Word by fearing the Lord and submitting to His message for me as I strive to live within the boundaries He has set for my life!
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).