A Message to Baruch (45:1–5)

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1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3 ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” ’4 “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. 5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the LORD. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” ’ ”
I. Baruch: a faithful servant
A. Baruch chose to identify with Jeremiah and do the will of God.
Jeremiah 45 gives us insight into the man Baruch. As we noted earlier, he had a brother on the king’s official staff who probably could have secured a good job for him in the palace.
We thank God for all that Jeremiah did, but we should also thank God for the assistance Baruch gave Jeremiah so the prophet could do his work. Moses had his seventy elders; David had his mighty men; Jesus had His disciples; Paul had his helpers, such as Timothy, Titus, and Silas; and Jeremiah had his faithful secretary.
B. Not everybody is called to be a prophet or apostle.
All of us can do the will of God by helping others do their work. Baruch was what we’d today call a “layman.” Yet he helped a prophet write the Word of God.
Baruch was willing to stay in the background and serve God by serving Jeremiah.
II. Even the most devoted servants occasionally get discouraged.
A. Baruch came to a point in his life where he was so depressed that he wanted to quit.
Jeremiah was aware of Baruch’s complaint of accusing God of adding sorrow to his pain. Baruch was worn out with his groaning and found no rest from his misery.
His complaint sounds much like Jeremiah’s laments in his confessions (e.g., 15:18). It is as vague as Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7) and has elicited numerous theories about its nature.
B. Baruch may have had an unpleasant experience, even as Jeremiah did, of threats of bodily harm.
He may have been a person of personal ambition but realized that Jeremiah was not going to be successful. Therefore his own reputation, so closely linked to that of Jeremiah, was ruined.
Perhaps he was agonizing with the question, “What have I gotten out of this for all my sacrifice?” (cf. Matt 19:27). It has also been suggested, though without foundation, that he was unhappy because he had not received the prophetic mantle of succession from Jeremiah.
III. The Lord’s Assurance (45:4–5)
A. The Lord had a word of encouragement for His servant.
He cautioned him not to build his hopes on the future of Judah, because everything would be destroyed in the Babylonian siege. A “soft job” in the government would lead only to death or exile in Babylon.
Then God gave him a word of assurance: his life would be spared, so he didn’t have to fear the enemy. God was proving to Baruch the reality of a promise that would be written centuries later: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33, NKJV).
B. Verse 5 suggests that Baruch was personally ambitious, hence the rebuke.
Perhaps Baruch envisioned himself as the great deliverer of his people from the coming judgment and would thereby leave a lasting name among his people. God cautioned him not to seek greatness since the disaster could not be averted. Baruch’s only reward for his faithful service would be that he would escape with his life
When we’re serving the Lord and His people, we never want to seek great things for ourselves. The only important thing is that God’s work is accomplished and God’s great name is glorified. John the Baptist put it succinctly: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
In Closing:
A crisis doesn’t “make a person”; a crisis reveals what a person is made of. The crisis that followed the destruction of Jerusalem was like a goldsmith’s furnace that revealed the dross as well as the pure gold. It’s too bad there wasn’t more gold. How will you and I respond when “the fiery trial” comes? (1 Peter 4:12–19) I hope that, like Job, we’ll come forth pure gold (Job 23:10).
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