Updated: Nov 1, 2019
In the book of Jeremiah, there is a story of a king who, upon hearing the Word of the Lord, took his knife, cut out the pages, and threw them in the fire.
After reading this story found in Jeremiah 36, I believe we can learn a lot from the response of King Jehoiakim when he hears the word of God.
The first lesson I believe we can learn from this is that some people will harden their hearts when they hear the Word. I was one told that the same sun that melts wax, will harden clay. In other words, some people will respond with a repentant heart, others will be hardened.
The second lesson I learned is that I am often like King Jehoiakim. I have never physically taken the Bible, ripped pages out and thrown them in the fire, but I have done this spiritually in the past. For example, when it comes to a certain topic in the Bible that I find difficult, I will often skip over it and move on to the next thing. Instead of taking time to immerse myself in it and make changes. This seems to me a lot like ripping it out and burning it.
The last lesson I believe we can lesson from King Jehoiakim is that our actions can affect others. Due to Jehoiakim’s disobedience, not only was he punished, but all the people he was in charge of and leading, were also punished. As Christians, we need to pay attention to the power of our influence. We need to ensure we are setting a good example to the people who look up to us.
I believe a New Testament example of this would be in Luke 11:44
It reads: “Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
Jesus said this to the Pharisees after he had just finished addressing certain issues with them. To understand this we need to understand that the Jews were obsessed with avoiding tombs. They were so obsessed with avoiding them that they painted them white so you wouldn’t accidentally walk into one. The reason for this is found in Numbers 19. If you touched a dead body you were unclean for 7 days and you couldn’t go into the presence of God. You had to go through 7 days of isolation, a purification ceremony…until you did these things you were banned from the presence of God because you could not go into the temple. Unmarked graves put them at risk of unintentionally becoming defiled.
With all that in mind, look at what Jesus says to them in Luke 11:44… He says you, yourselves are like those unmarked graves.
I think Jesus was concerned about the example they were setting.
You see, the Jews were deeply devoted to God… And they were so concerned about keeping the law that they even tithed (gave as an offering) a tenth of their garden herbs. And Jesus looks at them and still says they are missing something…They were leaving out the justice and mercy of God.
I think Jesus might have been saying, "You are so concerned about being undefiled, but you don’t realize that you are the one doing the defiling! You have been given positions of religious authority and influence over the people and you think you are leading them… You’re telling them, do what we do and follow us and you’ll be close to God…. But you’re actually leading people away from God!"
In Matthew 23:13, He says woe to you, you shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…you slam the door on the presence of God in people’s faces.
I think He mayhave been addressing the fact that there is there is a way of pursuing faith… a way of wearing the name Christian, that is empty of the heart of God, that rips out pages of scripture and slams the door to the people around us coming to know Jesus.
There is a way of expressing your faith without the heart and actions of Jesus and when people look at your example and go, “well she might be a Christian, but she’s not much different than I am. Her life looks just like mine… why do I need Christ?" Or, "that’s what following Jesus is all about? No thanks, I am out.”
It is possible to do this…In the way we use the scriptures out of context… in the way we treat and serve people…the way we fail to serve people…when we speak without the heart of God in words and actions… when we use the words of Jesus as if they are a weapon instead of a doorway to freedom.
It is possible represent Jesus and express your faith in a way that is devoid of the heart of God that it just repels people…
To your neighbors… your friends… your family… your coworkers… your church family…
A version of Christianity that is missing the heart of God. It can shut the door on people knowing Jesus. We can be like unmarked graves that actually cause people to stumble in their relationship with God.
It is so important to pay attention to the example we are setting to others. It is so important to avoid being like Jehoiakim or like the Pharisees and to remember not to burn certain pages of the Scriptures…
So0o0o... What about you? What example have you been setting lately? Are there any pages in Scripture that you may be unintentionally (or intentionally burning)? Write about it in the comment section! I hope to hear from you <3