A Detailed Look at Jeremiah Chapter 36 – God’s Word Burned and Rewritten

In Jeremiah chapter 36, we read about a pivotal moment in the life and ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. This chapter records how Jeremiah had his scribe Baruch write down all the prophecies that God had given Jeremiah to speak against Israel and Judah. These prophecies were then read aloud to the people. However, when they reached the ears of King Jehoiakim, he burned the scroll in his fireplace in an act of defiance against God’s word.

Jeremiah responded by having Baruch rewrite the prophecies, with even more details added. This account provides us with key insights into the importance of God’s word, the rejection of truth by ungodly leaders, and the need to faithfully declare God’s word no matter how often it is rejected.


The book of Jeremiah contains prophecies given during the later years of the kingdom of Judah up until the time of the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah 36 specifically recounts a pivotal moment in 605 B.C., in the 4th year of the reign of King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:1).

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By this time in history, the people of Judah had persisted in disobedience against God for many generations. Numerous prophets had already pronounced God’s judgment against them if they did not turn from their sinful ways. Jeremiah was God’s chosen prophet to deliver a final warning right before their exile to Babylon.

Chapter 36 provides us with key lessons regarding:

  • The importance of heeding God’s word
  • The rejection of truth by ungodly leaders
  • The need to faithfully declare God’s word no matter how often it is rejected

Let’s take a close look at this passage and reflect on how these themes apply to us today.

Key Takeaways

  • God’s word is powerful and authoritative – we must submit to it
  • Hardened hearts reject God’s word and face judgment
  • God’s prophets must faithfully declare His word, even in the face of opposition
  • God preserves His word and makes sure it goes forth
  • Judgment comes when there is no repentance in response to God’s word
A Detailed Look at Jeremiah Chapter 36 - God's Word Burned and Rewritten

Commentary on Jeremiah Chapter 36

Overview of Chapter 36

The events of chapter 36 take place in the 4th year of Jehoiakim’s reign over Judah (v. 1). This wicked king was appointed by Pharaoh Necho after his father Josiah was killed in battle against Egypt.

God instructs Jeremiah to have his scribe Baruch write down all the prophecies He had given regarding Israel and Judah up to that point (v. 2). Jeremiah was restricted from going to the temple himself (v. 5). So his scribe Baruch went to the temple on a day of fasting to read the scroll aloud to all the people (v. 6).

Baruch faithfully read all the words of Jeremiah (v. 8). The scroll contained strong warnings about God’s coming judgment if the people did not repent.

The Scroll Read to the People (v. 9-19)

When the royal officials heard about the reading of the scroll, they had Baruch come to read it to them as well (v. 14). They responded with fear and said King Jehoiakim must also hear this scroll (v. 16).

The officials warned Baruch to hide, while they went and reported the scroll’s contents to the king (v. 19). This shows that the reading of the scroll brought about conviction in their hearts. The officials knew the king would not respond favorably.

King Jehoiakim Burns the Scroll (v. 20-26)

The king arrogantly had the scroll read to him while he sat by the fireplace (v. 21-22). As each column was read, the king would cut off that section of the scroll and burn it in the fire (v. 23). He continued in this pattern until the entire scroll was burned (v. 25).

In a final act of defiance, the king and his attendants showed no fear or repentance after hearing God’s warnings (v. 24). Instead, King Jehoiakim burned the scroll as an act of contempt toward God’s word.

God’s Response to the King’s Action (v. 27-32)

In response to the king’s actions, God tells Jeremiah to rewrite the prophecies on another scroll (v. 28). God says Jehoiakim burned the original scroll, but worse judgment would come upon him as a result (v. 29-31). This shows God’s word cannot be thwarted by wicked kings.

God also decrees that Jehoiakim will have no lasting dynasty. His dead body will be thrown outside the city gates and left unburied (v. 30) – a sign of disgrace and divine judgment. These judgments indeed came to pass shortly thereafter when Babylon conquered Jerusalem.

So in defiance against God, Jehoiakim destroyed the written word. But the powerful spoken words of God cannot be burned. Jeremiah faithfully rewrote the prophecies with additional words of judgment.

Key Themes and Application

Having provided an overview of this chapter, let’s explore some key themes that emerge and how we can apply them today:

God’s Word is Powerful and Authoritative

This passage displays the power and authority of God’s word. Jehoiakim tried to burn the scroll and do away with its pronouncements of judgment. But God’s word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Just as His words were fulfilled in Judah’s Babylonian exile, all Scriptural prophecies will come to pass. No human power can thwart God’s decrees. We must humble ourselves and submit to the authority of God’s word.

As Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). God’s word is the final authority, yesterday, today and forever. We must diligently study and obey it.

Hardened Hearts Reject God’s Word and Face Judgment

King Jehoiakim represents what happens when sinners persist in rebellion against God. His heart was hard and unrepentant. When confronted with the truth of God’s word, he rejected it.

This passage warns us of the dangers of willful defiance against God. When the opportunity for repentance comes through His word, we must humbly turn from sin. If we continue in stubbornness, we will face God’s judgment, just as Jehoiakim did.

Judgment fell on Jehoiakim because he repeatedly disobeyed God’s word through the prophets. Let us have a contrite heart that trembles at God’s word (Isaiah 66:2), lest we too be judged.

God’s Prophets Must Faithfully Declare His Word

Jeremiah and Baruch modeled courage and faithfulness in declaring God’s word, even when they faced threats and opposition. Baruch obediently read the unpopular message of judgment to all the people.

Later, when Jehoiakim burned the scroll, Jeremiah persisted in having the entire message rewritten. He did not compromise or tone down the message.

This example reminds us that God calls His servants to faithfully preach His word in its fullness. The truths of Scripture must be boldly proclaimed, even if they are rejected or create persecution.

Like Jeremiah, we must speak the truth in love, while leaving the results to God. His word will never return void (Isaiah 55:11).

God Preserves His Word and Makes Sure It Goes Forth

This passage contains a valuable lesson about how God preserves His revealed word. Jehoiakim tried to destroy the written words of judgment against his kingdom. But God simply had Jeremiah produce another copy.

Throughout history, wicked rulers have tried to outlaw or destroy the Bible. Some even sentenced those who translated Scripture into common languages to death. But God has miraculously protected and proliferated His word through the centuries.

Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Though Satan and evil men try to suppress God’s word, it continues to transform lives across the globe. God’s word can never be destroyed.

Judgment Comes When There is No Repentance

Finally, this passage warns of the tragic judgment that comes on those who remain unrepentant in the face of God’s word. Jehoiakim heard God’s warnings yet defiantly rejected them. He faced the judgment pronounced against him as a result.

Scripture reminds us that “because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath” (Romans 2:5). We must examine our own hearts today. If we have not responded to God’s word with repentance, we can expect consequences.

But if we humble ourselves and turn from sin, God promises forgiveness and restoration. The choice is ours. Let us learn from Jehoiakim’s example not to harden our hearts when confronted by the truth of Scripture.


Jeremiah chapter 36 contains profound lessons that are very applicable for us today. We see the power and authority of God’s word to bring conviction and warn of judgment. Yet we also see how prideful humans can reject God’s word to their own peril.

May we have soft hearts that tremble at God’s word (Isaiah 66:2). As we read Scripture, let us accept its pronouncements, allow it to transform our lives, and boldly proclaim it to others. God’s word is eternal and all-powerful. It will be fulfilled, to His glory and the good of His people.

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