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Sword versus pen knife (Jeremiah 36)

Jehoiakim was one of the last kings to rule Judah before the Babylonian conquest. Jeremiah tells about him meeting with his ministers when a scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecy was read before him. The king took the scroll, slashed it up with a pen knife and tossed the tatters into a fire (Je 36:23). Jeremiah adds this detail, that nobody tore his garments or displayed any alarm. (Je 36:24)

Despisers have always been around, so to speak, to take a knife to the Sword. There’s nothing new about that. It’s more revealing that Jehoiakim’s court lacked a man whose acquaintance with the Scriptures made it impossible to shrug this off.

A couple of generations ago, Americans generally respected the Bible.   They considered it to be true, and reflecting the ancient testimony of the church, saw it as inspired by God.  They also knew about and accepted the fact that the Bible played a dominant role in the history of the West and was the fountainhead of the ideals upon which our country was founded. Christians preached the life and teachings of Christ as the pinnacle of moral perfection, and even nonbelievers acknowledged the infinite superiority of the Christian moral vision.

But as one preacher said to me, “Them days is over.”   Today’s Americans are certain that the Bible’s chief effect has been to foment an endless succession of pointless and bloody religious wars.  They know George Washington had wooden teeth but nothing of his Christian beliefs, let alone how those beliefs helped shape him into the father of history’s greatest republic.  Our system of education has left many Americans unaware that Thomas Jefferson mentioned a “nature’s God” in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.  In the second paragraph, he argued that human rights flow from the fact that our Creator has so endowed us.  Jefferson, unlike modern scholars, was able to see that without God and the revelation of his Word, there would be no such thing as rights at all.

Two hundred years of Christless culture has eaten away at the American soul until the Secular Man thinks he can cut the Bible to pieces with his pen knife and, as with Jehoiakim’s lickspittle ministers, there will be none to raise a challenge. The Secular Man is mistaken about this, and God’s people should know that the Word of God has outlasted every scoffer that ever sought its destruction. And so has every church that built upon the rock of God’s word. (Matt 7:25)

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