In chapter 34 God instructs Jeremiah to speak to King Zedekiah. During the siege of Jerusalem, Zedekiah proclaimed freedom to all slaves, evidently to gain God's favor, but he failed to enforce this decree.
Chapter 35 records the loyalty of the Rechabites. The Rechabites were founded by Jonadab, son of Rechab, during Jehu's reign. They assisted in the eradication of Baalism from Israel. They avoided city life, with its corrupting influences, and lived simply in tents as shepherds. They refused to drink wine, and were obedient to their ancestor, Rechab, while the Jews were utterly disobedient to the Lord's commands. This vivid illustration furnished a contrast and an occasion for pronouncing doom upon the Jews and blessing upon the Rechabites.
The theme of chapter 36 is "the Word of God"--where it came from, what it does, and how men respond to it. Jeremiah had been preaching for over 20 years when these events took place. Egypt had just been defeated by Babylon. The prophet knew that Babylon would one day take Judah captive, but he still longed to see his people repent. Up to now Jeremiah's ministry had been oral. He had preached in the Temple court and tried to awaken the backslidden nation. Now God wants Jeremiah's message written down, so that it might be a permanent part of His Word. In verses 17 and 18 we see that God spoke to Jeremiah; Jeremiah spoke the words to his secretary, Baruch, and Baruch wrote them down. It took about a year to complete the writings, but after they were completed, the reading of them made a profound impression on some of the princes. The king then defiantly burned the writings, but Jeremiah wrote them all over again.
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