1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
All Josiah's reforms and arrangements were soon swept away, and the illusion of national righteousness that had been maintained by the power of the king's zeal and influence dissolved before the ugly realities of hatred and bitterness.
The people made Jehoahaz, Josiah's son, king-but he lasted only 3 months. The king of Egypt took him prisoner and set up his brother Jehoiakim in his stead. A heathen presumed to designate the ruler of God's Kingdom! But Egypt was to pay dearly for this presumption. Foreigners were to set up her rulers (Eze. 30:13) and so it has been for over 2000 years.
Jehoiakim reigned 11 years, and Jeremiah had much to do with this ungodly man. In the first year of his reign Jeremiah was commanded to stand in the court of the Temple and proclaim to all the people that came to worship, that unless they put away their wickedness God would make the Temple a desolation and the city a curse to all the nations of the earth.
Exactly the same charges were brought against Jeremiah by the priests and false prophets as were brought against Christ-that he had spoken against and threatened the Temple of God. They said: "Thou shalt surely die." But at this time the princes and people saved him from the priests, for in God's purpose he had much work yet to do. This was just one year after Josiah's death-the first year of Jehoiakim.
In the 4th & 5th years of Jehoiakim a very significant chain of events occurred-one of the great turning points of history. We are told in Jer. 25 that the 4th year of Jehoiakim was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. (This, incidentally, is a very important connecting link between scriptural and profane history.)
In indication of the great change in God's relationship to Judah, Jeremiah proclaims to the nation that he has now warned them for 23 years and that they have not hearkened, and that consequently the long-foretold evil is about to begin. Judah has now 18 years.
It is at this time that the Spirit reveals through Jeremiah that the captivity by Babylon will last 70 years. At the same time, Jeremiah is commanded to write all his prophecies in a book, and to have it read before all the people as a solemn witness.
This was completed in Jehoiakim's 5th year. The book was publicly read as commanded, and the princes who heard it immediately took the matter before the king, and began to read it to him. When 3 or 4 columns had been read, the king seized the book, cut it with a knife, and threw it into the fire.
That was the point at which the nation's doom was finally sealed. That event ranks in significance with the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. "His blood be upon us and upon our children," they cried, as the Living Word was cut asunder, and he was cast into the sacrificial fire. Jeremiah records with sadness and wonder that-when the roll of God's holy Word was derisively cut and burned-
"Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king nor any of his servants that heard all these words." - Jer 36: 24.
Bro Growcott - BTY 4.17.