Bible Burning (Jeremiah 36:23-24)

Jeremiah 36:23-24


23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. 24 Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor Did they tear their garments.


            I have to say, reading this text is always shocking to me.  Jeremiah, clearly a man who brought the word of God, has written a message from God for the people.  The king hears it, but does not like the message.  So, what does he do?  He takes a knife and slices the scroll up as it is unrolled.  The king then tosses the scraps into the fire, burning up the word of God and ignoring the warnings of the prophet.


            I grew up in a home that was not a Christian household.  However, as I grew up, my parents instilled in me a respect for churches and the Bible.  No matter how superstitious that fear was, the concept of a person cutting up the word of God and feeding it to the fire would have astonished me even as a non-believing child.  How much more awful is it to me as a grown up pastor?


            Yet, I have to do a double-take and ask myself some serious questions.  When I hear the word of God and put forth no particular effort to obey the clear commands of God, how am I different?  I know that my righteousness is not of my own making.  I know that obeying no law will get me to heaven.  Yet, when God has clearly spoken to me in his words and I still fail to take those words to heart, am I really different than the king who warmed himself next to a fire of scripture?


            I’m not wanting to be overly dramatic here, but I think we all can learn from this.  If we love the word of God and the God of the word, we will hear and strive to obey.  Let me tell you, this is not always as easy as you might think.  God’s commands are not always in line with my thinking.  God wants me to love people I don’t’ want to love.  God wants me to offer forgiveness to people I don’t want to speak to.  Gods’ word wants me to help those I don’t really want to help.  Gods’ word tells me to lay down my supposed rights when I don’t’ want to lay them down.  God’s word tells me to love my wife in a way I don’t naturally want to love her.  God’s word tells me to not be entertained by things I find entertaining.  God’s word tells me to think more lowly of myself than I do.  God’s word tells me to set my heart on heaven when this world is constantly screaming for my attention.


            No, It is not easy for me to not be just like that king.  Yet, I know I must not be like him.  I must hear God’s word and put forth the effort to follow it.  I have to change.  It is not merely outward behavior either.  I have to change from the inside in order to love the word that shows me my flaws at every turn.


            How about you?  Where might you need to stop cutting away columns of Scripture?  What words from God do you hear and immediately disregard?  How might God be calling you to love him and his word more?