Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘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 will cut off from it man and beast?” Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: He shall have none to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 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, but they would not hear.’”
Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. – Jeremiah 36:27-32 ESV
Jehoaikim could burn the scroll, but he couldn’t eliminate the words of God. He could consign God’s words to the fire, but it would do nothing to alter the plans of God. Judgment was coming. And to prove just how inevitable God’s will was, Jeremiah was instructed to take yet another scroll and dictate the words of God so that Baruch could write them down. But this time, God gave Jeremiah a few additional words just for Jehoiakim.
Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned the scroll because it said the king of Babylon would destroy this land and empty it of people and animals. Now this is what the Lord says about King Jehoiakim of Judah: He will have no heirs to sit on the throne of David. His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him and his family and his attendants for their sins. I will pour out on them and on all the people of Jerusalem and Judah all the disasters I promised, for they would not listen to my warnings.’” – Jeremiah 36:29-31 NLT
The original scroll had contained God’s dire predictions of coming judgment due to the sins of Judah. If you recall, when God had instructed Jeremiah to record these words of warning on the scroll, He had also said: “Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them. Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings” (Jeremiah 36:3 NLT). When Jehoiakim’s father, Josiah, had been king of Judah, he had rediscovered the book of the Law and, when he had heard it read, he had repented. He had immediately launched an effort to bring spiritual reform to the nation of Judah. He tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and conviction over the sins of he and his people. But Jehoiakim had reacted quite differently. Rather than tear his clothes, he had cut the scroll containing God’s words. Instead of burning the high places where false gods were worshiped in Judah, like his father had done, Jehoiakim had burned God’s message. But his efforts to destroy the words of God would fail miserably. And, eventually he would find that what God says, goes. What He predicts, happens. What He decrees, comes to pass. Ignoring God does not make Him go away.
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon. – 2 Chronicles 36:5-6 NLT
There seems to be a bit of confusion as to what exactly happened to Jehoiakim. God predicts that “His dead body will be thrown out to lie unburied—exposed to the heat of the day and the frost of the night” (Jeremiah 36:30 NLT). This same prophecy is recorded earlier in the book of Jeremiah.
He will be buried like a dead donkey—
dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates! – Jeremiah 22:19 NLT
But the book of 2 Chronicles records that he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon. So, did he die in Judah or Babylon? It would seem the the Chronicles passage simply states that Nebuchadnezzar had Jehoiakim arrested and “bound in chains” with the intent of taking him to Babylon. But God’s prophecy was fulfilled before that could happen. Jehoiakim would die an ignominious death in Judah, and his body thrown outside the city walls, just as God had said. And while his son, Jehoiachin would claim the thrown after his father’s death, it would not be according to God’s will and his reign would be short-lived – a mere three months. Nebuchadnezzar would remove him and replace him with his uncle, therefore fulfilling God’s prophecy that Jehoiakim would “have no heirs to sit on the throne of David” (Jeremiah 36:30 NLT).
The will of God can be ignored, but it cannot be stopped. Even the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar would be unable to alter the will of God. He may have had plans to take Jehoiakim back to Babylon, but that is NOT what God had said would happen. God’s will trumps man’s plan every time.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Jehoiakim could despise the words of God, but he could not alter the outcome they predicted. He could attempt to eliminate the scroll containing God’s words along with the prophet who spoke them and the scribe who penned them. But his efforts would prove futile. Men and nations refuse to honor God as God. They deny His will and attempt to live their lives as if he doesn’t even exist. But Jehoiakim and, eventually, Nebuchadnezzar, would learn that God is sovereign over all.
Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepare for battle;
the rulers plot together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.
“Let us break their chains,” they cry,
“and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury. – Psalm 2:1-5 NLT
God’s will will be done. His plans will be fulfilled. What He says will come to pass will do so without any alteration or interference. Kings and nations can rage against Him. Individuals can attempt to act as if He does not exist. But God continues to rule and reign. His will continues to happen just as He has planned it. Jehoiakim could burn the scroll of God, but he would never make a dent in the plans of God.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.