Rekabites; Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll

Two separate stories provide a distinct contrast of those whom Jeremiah is called to minister. One if faithful and one is lost in their own world.

The Rekabites

The Lord sends Jeremiah to the Rekabites and tells him to give them wine to drink. Jeremiah sets out bowls and cups, but the Rekabites refuse to drink:

Neither we nor our wives nor our sons and daughters have ever drunk wine or built houses to live in or had vineyards, fields or crops. We have lived in tents and have fully obeyed everything our forefather Jehonadab commanded us. Jeremiah 35:9-10

Through all of the ups and downs of those around them, the Rekabites remained faithful to their forefather. Unlike Israel and Judah, these people lived simple lives and maintained their faith.

Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Rekabites, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jehonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered.’ Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.’” Jeremiah 35:18-19

Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll

The Lord instructs Jeremiah to write down words on a scroll that will be read to the people in an effort to change their hearts and perhaps save them once again.

Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” Jeremiah 36:3

Baruch writes the words as dictated by Jeremiah, then goes to the temple to read the words.

16 When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear and said to Baruch, “We must report all these words to the king.” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, how did you come to write all this? Did Jeremiah dictate it?”
18 “Yes,” Baruch replied, “he dictated all these words to me, and I wrote them in ink on the scroll.”
19 Then the officials said to Baruch, “You and Jeremiah, go and hide. Don’t let anyone know where you are.” Jeremiah 36:16-19

These were not the words the people wanted to hear, so they tell Jeremiah and Baruch to hide for they were afraid of what Jehoiakim would do. When the scroll was read to the king and his officials:

the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. Jeremiah 36:23-24

Not only did they ignore the words of the prophet and burn the scroll, they did so with no concern, no remorse. In their minds, perhaps, they thought burning the parchment would rid them of the nuisance of Jeremiah and his followers. Of course this was foolish arrogance at its worst.

Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. Jeremiah 36:30

Two stories, one of faithfulness, one of arrogance. Within each circle, no doubt, each was content that they were right. The Rekabites obeyed their rather strict commands and lived a simple life without complaint. Jehoiakim on the other hand showed his unrepentant heart and ultimately did nothing to serve the Lord and help his people. The Rekabites lived in tents and had very little; Jehoiakim was placed in charge as king and given a palace. One was faithful, one was horrible; both thought they were right.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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