Rarely does Scripture provide us with such a frame by frame description of the drama we have here in the 36th chapter of Jeremiah.
Just hours before, Baruch has taken the scroll he has transcribed into the temple and read it before the assembly. They must have gasped when he revealed the judgment levied upon them. With the congregation abuzz, Baruch whisks himself away back to Jeremiah, but not before leaving the scroll with the king’s secretary.
As the curtains rise, we find ourselves in the king’s chambers. The castle is dark, save for the fire burning brightly in the center of the room. The king, seething with anger after hearing the commotion at the temple, orders that the scroll be read to him. With a nervous gulp, his secretary begins reading and the truth of Almighty God echoes against the cold, dark palace walls. As it does, the king, with a steely calm, produces a knife from his cloak and walks toward his secretary. Although quite alarmed at the sight of the blade, the secretary continues to read. Drawing upon his secretary, the king lifts his blade. His secretary holds his breath, bracing for the blow. With a flick of the king’s wrist, a section of the scroll falls into the king’s hand. He tosses the page into the fire, where it withers and crumbles in the flames.
Palace setting aside, something in the king’s response to the scroll feels sadly familiar: dramatic posturing when confronted with inconvenient truth. We avoid; we deny. If we have any power to do so, we may even silence. But like the flower that grows through cracks in a city sidewalk, the truth has a way of finding life amid even the harshest environments. And the same generative power is behind them both.
How do you respond to inconvenient truths?
God, give me an open mind to hear your truth this day. Amen.