Jeremiah had been banned from going into the house of the Lord. But Jeremiah had a wonderful and faithful secretary, Baruch, and to him Jeremiah gave a message to declare in the Lord’s house. To Baruch, the prophet instructed: “on a day of fasting in the hearing of all 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 men of Judah who come out of their cities. It may be that their plea for mercy will come before the Lord, and that every one will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people” (36:6-7).
The parchment upon which the words were written were taken to King Jehoiakim, and he cut up the scroll, piece by piece, and threw them into the fire. He would not listen to the prophet of the Lord: “Neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments” (36:24). Oh, but they should have listened and acted. Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon, warned that it is a very dangerous thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. And, so, the prophet announces to the king: “And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them” (36:31).
Oh, they should have listened! But they did not. Let us not ignore or reject either God’s loud and plain entreaties or those sweet, soft influences of the Holy Spirt for, as Moses put it: “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Numbers 14:18).
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
like the wideness of the sea.
There’s a kindness in God’s justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good.
There is mercy with the Savior,
there is healing in his blood. --Frederick William Faber (1862)