Reading: Jeremiah 36 – 37
Seems preposterous that the man who hated everything Jewish—ultimately everything but himself—could have something in common with two Jewish kings. But I suggest they do. First let's look at the Jewish Kings: Jehoiakim, son of Josiah (Jeremiah 36), and Zedekiah, son of Josiah (Jeremiah 37). Two sons of Josiah, one of the best kings of Judah. Josiah's response to God's Word is an amazing contrast to what we read of his sons (2 Chronicles 34:14-21, 29-33).
The Lord instructs Jeremiah to write on a scroll all the words the Lord had given him from the start of his ministry (Jeremiah 36:2-3), as one last plea for the people to turn from their rebellion. So, Jeremiah has Baruch write it all down on a scroll, and then to read the scroll at the temple in the hearing of the people (Jeremiah 36:4-6). This scroll is Scripture; essentially the book of Jeremiah. Micaiah heard this, and that led to a series of events whereby the king would have the scroll read to him (Jeremiah 36:11-21). Note how different, how polar opposite, Jehoiakim's response to God's Word is from his father's (Josiah).
22It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. 23Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe's knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. 24The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. 25 Even though Elnathan, Delaiah and Gemariah urged the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them. (Jeremiah 36:22-25)
Jehoiakim was the highest authority in his life, and demanded to be the highest authority in the land. He wasn't about to submit to another. So, he had to destroy the written words of God as those would speak against his totalitarian authority. Subsequently, we find the Jehoiakim and his family would die out (Jeremiah 36:30-31), but the Word of the Lord would live on (Jeremiah 36:32).
Then, Zedekiah, Josiah's other son, is found to be reigning on the throne. Zedekiah, however, didn't burn the word of the Lord, he was much more subtle. He simply didn't pay attention (Jeremiah 37:2). He still wanted the Lord's help, and could play along with religious activities in order to gain what he wanted (Jeremiah 37:3), but he didn't want to submit his life to a higher authority than himself. He had enough curiosity to inquire as to what God had to say (Jeremiah 37:17), but no interest in submitting to it. Any leader who sees himself as the highest authority will be threatened by the objective authority of God's Word.
So what do these men have in common with Adolph Hitler? In his hatred for the Scriptures. In the Nazi plan for the national church here are a couple of points (taken from Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas):
Point 13: The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany...
Point 14: The National Church declares that to it, and therefore to the German nation, it has been decided that the Fuehrer's Mein Kampf is the greatest of all documents. It... not only contains the greatest but embodies the purest and truest ethics for the present and future life of our nation.
Point 18 requires the church to rid itself of the Bible.
Point 19: On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf (to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book) and to the left of the altar a sword.
Of course, Hitler was anything but a Christian, and therefore, this should not surprise us. But in his hatred of scripture, God's Word and its higher authority than himself, he was just like these two Jewish Kings we read about, and very much not like Josiah. How about you? Do you love God's word? Do you pay attention to it? Does God have authority over you?
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