Story Four: "The man who burned God's Word"

By Barry McWilliams
Lesson Four: God's Word shows me my sin.
Bible Text: Jeremiah 36

Teaching method: Storytelling

Simple Outline of story:
  1. God has Jeremiah and Baruch write a book
  2. It brings warning and offers forgiveness to all who will listen.
  3. the book is read
  4. The people hear Baruch read it
  5. Macaiah has the officials hear it
  6. The officials have the book read to King Jehoiakim
  7. he gets angry because he's guilty...
  8. he tries to destroy the book...
  9. he tries to silence the Prophet
  10. God has Jeremiah and Baruch writing another book
  11. What God has said is still true and...
  12. Judgement came to King Jehoiakim

Preparation: Storytelling Techniques

In telling this story, without any visual props or teaching aids, you are being presented a real challenge.

Here is a tale full of atmosphere and charged with tension. There is a lot of dramatic elements that will call upon skillful use of storytelling techniques.

You will want to spent a lot of time with this story. Allow time each day over a period of at least 2 to 3 weeks to make a new story your own.

"Live with your story until the characters and setting become as real to you as people and places you know. You must know it so well that it can be told as if it were a personal reminiscence."

"Visualize the happenings as though you were seeing and experiencing them. Imagine sounds, tastes, scents, colors. Only when you see the story vividly yourself can you make your audience see it."

"Read the story from beginning to end several times, first for pleasure, then with concentration. Analyze its' appeal, the word pictures you want your listeners to see, the mood you wish to create.

"Learn the story as a whole rather than in fragments. Master the structure of the story. Perceive the story line:

If simplifying or adapting a story, Do not alter the essential story line.
"Note how the action starts, how it accelerates,
how and where the transitions occur.
Note sequences of names and events."

"Master the style of the story.
To retain the original flavor and vigor, memorize rhymes of characteristic phrases which recur throughout the story.
Observe the sentence structure, phrases, unusual words and expressions. "

Quotes are from Baker and Greene, Storytelling: Art and Technique, pp. 43-49

Make it interesting! Stories are more interesting if there is animation and variety in the voice of the teller. Dialog should make use of different voices. Use your speech to create the atmosphere or tension as the story progresses.

Use gestures and facial expressions to add to the visualization of the story.

Use some repetition of phrases, or of the progression of events. For example, the various phrases refering to "sin... judgement... turn... forgiven". Use of repetition on key ideas helps fix them in young minds, especially if in contained in a well articulated phrase or rhyme.

Try learning and "rattling off" the names of all the officials in the story, giving them some personality, and acting out their responses to hearing the scroll and the king's actions. Practice saying their names out loud until you can do it smoothly.

But in the end it is most important that you should tell it in your own words with sincerity and gravity.

Practice, practice, practice!!

Extended Outline:

1. God commands Jeremiah to write a book on a scroll. (36:2,3)
a. It was difficult work - by hand with Baruch's help.
Jeremiah would tell Baruch the words and Baruch would write them on a scroll with a pen and ink.
b. It was an important book -
Telling the people of their sins
warning the people of Judgement.
Asking them to turn away from sin,
and be forgiven.
These are the words God gave to his prophet to write down - God is angry at their sin! Judgement is coming!
He wants them to turn from their sins and be forgiven.

2. The Scroll is read to the people Jeremiah sends Baruch to read to the people during the feast - From a high window he reads it out loudly
The people heard God's words
Micaiah heard and had Baruch read to the officials - the officials heard God's words and were afraid
They knew their land was full of sin. The words from God were true.
These are the words God gave to his prophet to write down - God is angry at their sin! Judgement is coming!
He wants them to turn from their sins and be forgiven.

3a. The Officials want to read the scroll to the king They sent Jeremiah and Baruch to hide. They know the King won't like these words and might be angry. He was a bad king.

3a. The king listens, but...
He's not afraid and he's not sorry, in fact,
He gets angry as he hears these words read:
Jehoiakim is angry because these words are all true about him and he does not like to hear about his sins.
He is angry at the scroll for saying he's a sinner
He is angry at the Prophet Jeremiah for saying he's a sinner
He is angry at God for saying he's a sinner
3b. He tries to get rid of the Words from God: The king tries to get rid of the Scroll.
He begins cutting out the parts he doesn't like, and then he began burning the pieces.
He's cutting out the words of truth about his sins.
He's burning the words of Judgement,
He's burning the words rather than turning from sin.
But He's burning the words of forgiveness as well

3c. But destroying the scroll didn't make him feel any less guilty, so...
The king tried to get rid of Jeremiah and Baruch as well.
He orders them arrested
The soldiers hunted for them everywhere, but God was hiding them.
So they could write the Words of God down again.
So they could add even more words from God.
Now God will bring Judgement to this king who did not listen to and believe His word. The Babylonians will come and destroy the city.

God brought judgement on King Jehoiakim - the Babylonians came - God's words come to pass. The words are still with us. King Jehoiakim is not.

This is a story about the Word of God which is true in what it says about us, whether we like it or not. All of God's warnings, and all his promises given in the Word are true.

God, by putting His words in writing, has made it possible for all men to hear His Word and for us to share it with people everywhere - even as Jeremiah and Baruch and Macaiah and the other officials "passed it on".

The truth of what God's Word says cannot be taken away by ignoring it, selecting only the parts of it we like or attempting to destroy it. What it says will come to pass.

Man passes away, but God's Word endures forever.

God told Jeremiah, His prophet to write a book. He was to write down all the messages that God had given to him for the wicked people of Judah.

This was before typewriters and printing presses had been invented. In fact, instead of books, they wrote on scrolls, and each scroll had to be handwritten. Jeremiah set to work with his helper, Baruch.

It took a long time to write this book. Jeremiah may have wondered why God wanted him to write it. God still wanted his people to turn from their sins and be forgiven. But few had heard Jeremiah speak, and no one had heard very many of Jeremiah's sermons. With a book, everyone would be able to read all of God's Words to them.

God could tell them that they had sinned by breaking His laws and how much they needed His Son to come and die for their sins. He could tell them how great His love and forgiveness could be, for those who would listen and believe.

Finally, after weeks of work the scroll was finished. Baruch took the Scroll to the temple and began to read it to the people as they came. Some of King Jehoiakim's officials were there and they were sad when they heard about God's anger at the sins of the people. When they found out that these were the messages of God's prophet Jeremiah, they knew this Scroll was important.

But they were worried that the King would not like what the Scroll said. They were afraid he would get angry and hurt Jeremiah and Baruch, so they told them to hide where no one could find them.

So they took it to the king. He sat on his throne next to a fire to keep warm because it was winter and listened as they began to read. The King was not sad when he heard what it said. He became angry instead because he did not like what it said about his sins and the sins of his people. Rather than being sorry about his sins, he took a knife and cut the scroll in pieces and began to burn them. The officials begged him not to do it. But the Scroll that Jeremiah and Baruch had worked so long and hard to write was burned piece by piece. Rather than believe God's Word, Jehoiakim burned it.

How sad! Rather than admit the truth that he was a sinner and be forgiven, King Jehoiakim had burned up God's promises of forgiveness for the people.

The king was so angry he even ordered the guards to arrest Jeremiah and Baruch. But God had hidden them. They had much work to do, starting all over again, writing another scroll with God's words.

God was very angry at this king who refused to believe God's Words. Soon after this King Jehoiakim died and God brought terrible punishment to his kingdom. But you can read in the Bible the words that Jeremiah wrote and Jehoiakim burned. It is the book with Jeremiah's name.

© 1991 Barry McWilliams and Mission Church Fellowship, Hypertext Version © 1996 Barry McWilliams
This Curriculum may be downloaded, copied and used with permission of the author
by any Church or Christian Organization - Donations accepted.
For Permission and other information contact Barry McWilliams at

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