Jeremiah 36 tells the story of a king who just doesn’t get it. Jeremiah had his scribe Baruch record God’s word on a scroll. Since Jeremiah had been banished from the temple – he sent Baruch to read it to all the people during the day of fasting when everyone would be there to listen. He picked the most impacting time to get the word of God out. The message was pretty clear: “turn back from their bad lives, and let me forgive their perversity and sin”. God is ready to destroy and wants to let the people live. But He can’t tolerate sin – never could since the garden and never will. But read closely what God says through Jeremiah here: “let me forgive”. God wants to forgive, He wants to set us free from the burden of sin. But forgiveness isn’t loosed until we repent which is what turning back is all about. We have to be willing to make a change – to stop what we are doing and turn the other way. It is really not rocket science. It isn’t even a hard concept. Stop, turn, and go the other way. In simplest terms that is what repentance is all about. So Baruch is delivering a message that people then, and actually now, hate to hear. That what they were doing was wrong and it is time for a change.
Of course the leaders in the temple know it isn’t going to play well with the king. So they tell Baruch to get Jeremiah and high tail it out of town and hide. These leaders tell the king who wants to know what good old Jeremiah had written. And of course, the king tells his thugs to go get these two who are long gone. But check out the reaction to the very strong words that Jeremaih had penned: “Neither the king nor any of his officials showed the slightest twinge of conscience”. Here is the really unfortunate part of sin. It has a tendency to be able to darken our heart so we eventually don’t even recognize it as sin. We begin to think it is ok – that disobedience to God really isn’t all that bad after all. Our conscience is really one of the best things we have to help keep us on track. It should challenge us to line up with God’s word. It should be sensitive to the leading of God’s spirit. Not here though – the king just wants to kill the messenger rather than deal with the real issue – the disobedience and sin of the people. “But God had hidden them away”. He’s good like that – taking care of His children who are obedient to Him. Are you sensitive to God’s spirit and your conscience. Is there sin that needs to be cleaned up in your life? The method is clear – turn back and let God fogive. Jesus went to the cross to make that possible. Don’t stiff arm God from loving you in that way…..