8 Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet told him to do; at the Lord’s temple he read the words of the Lord from the scroll.9 In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the Lord was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah.10 From the room of Gemariah son of Shaphan the secretary, which was in the upper courtyard at the entrance of the New Gate of the temple, Baruch read to all the people at the Lord’s temple the words of Jeremiah from the scroll.
11 When Micaiah son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the Lord from the scroll, 12 he went down to the secretary’s room in the royal palace, where all the officials were sitting: Elishama the secretary, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Akbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah, and all the other officials. 13 After Micaiah told them everything he had heard Baruch read to the people from the scroll, 14 all the officials sent Jehudi son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to say to Baruch, “Bring the scroll from which you have read to the people and come.” So Baruch son of Neriah went to them with the scroll in his hand. 15 They said to him, “Sit down, please, and read it to us.”
So Baruch read it to them. 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 36:8-19 NIV)
From yesterday’s post, Jeremiah obeyed the Lord and wrote down all the words the Lord had given him over the years. Jeremiah enlisted his faithful friend Baruch to scribe as he spoke. After Baruch had completed the recording of Jeremiah’s dictations, Jeremiah sent Baruch to the Temple to read the words of the Lord to the people there since Jeremiah had been banned from the Temple.
In today’s passage, we see Baruch faithfully carrying out Jeremiah’s orders. Both the Lord and Jeremiah hoped for a revival, where the Lord’s words would bring the people to repentance and confession of their wicked ways. Unfortunately, as noted in verses 8 – 10, there was no reaction from the people.
In verse 11, there was one person in the crowd who was listening – Micaiah, the son of the man whose room and balcony Baruch was using to read the words of the Lord publicly. In verse 12, Michaiah immediately goes to find his father Gemariah, who was meeting with the other cabinet members, including the secretary of state, Elishama.
We might wonder why Jeremiah would do all this “name dropping” in verse 12. Was Jeremiah awed at being “heard” by these heads of state? Probably not, as Jeremiah had been with King Josiah and had directly addressed the other kings. More likely, it was because of the parallels and generational connections between the reading of this scroll and the finding of the ancient scrolls during King Josiah’s temple renovation (2 Kings 22-23).
So what were these relationships? Shaphan, the secretary of state under King Josiah, was the person who brought the ancient scrolls and read them to King Josiah. Shaphan’s son Gemariah was the person who was in charge of the room and balcony from where Baruch was reading the scrolls to the people. And Gemariah’s son Micaiah was the one who heard Baruch reading, who recognized the word of the Lord and its warnings and went to tell his father and the other cabinet members.
Also, Akbor was one of three people that King Josiah sent to inquire of the Lord about the message of the ancient scrolls. Akbor’s son Elnathan was in the cabinet meeting when Micaiah delivered the message to the group. While King Jehoiakim was the opposite of his father King Josiah in his faith, he apparently did keep some of his father’s heads of state to help run the country.
In verses 13 – 15a, Baruch was summoned and requested to read the scroll. Notice the respect they showed Baruch; this was not an inquisition; this was genuine interest in both the message and the messenger.
In verses 15b – 16, Baruch read the scrolls. The reaction in the room was of fear; the officials knew they would have to tell the king. There was no indication of repentance on the part of the cabinet members; one the other hand, there was no conspiracy to hide or cover up the message from the Lord. These were men of integrity that knew what they needed to do, even if it meant bringing more bad news before the king.
In verses 17- 18, the cabinet members inquired as to the source of the scrolls. Baruch verified they were indeed the words of the Lord to Jeremiah. The officials then gave very specific orders to Baruch to go into hiding and take Jeremiah with him. They likely remembered the prophet Uriah’s fate as the bearer of bad news to the king (26:20-24) and wanted to protect both Baruch and Jeremiah from the same death sentence.
May we be faithful to the Lord’s calling, even if it affects or even threatens our well-being.
May we heed the Lord’s words and have the integrity to stand and proclaim to any and all who will hear, just as Baruch, Michaiah, Gemariah, and the cabinet members did.