Today: [Jeremiah 45] Baruch’s Complaint Answered: Are you a complainer? Do you ever feel as though you have paid your dues in the kingdom? When blessing is long in coming do you get impatient and murmur in your heart? Then this chapter of Jeremiah is for you! In it, Jeremiah’s faithful companion, Baruch receives the dealing of the hand of God with an attitude problem he has developed because he thinks God owes him something.
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[Jer 45:1-5 KJV] 1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; 3 Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest. 4 Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, [that] which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. 5 And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek [them] not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.
In this brief chapter, Jeremiah comforts and then corrects his companion and scribe, Baruch. Who was this person, Baruch? He was the son of a priest, and brother to a trusted counselor of king Zedekiah. He was, in effect Jeremiah’s personal secretary who aided him in writing down the words of his prophesies as Jeremiah was commanded by God to do so. Working in this capacity, Baruch was of necessity within Jeremiah’s inner circle. Being this close to a man of God is a very interesting position to be in. Baruch would have been familiar with Jeremiah in ways that were not immediately apparent to others on the outside. He would have been privy to Jeremiah’s personal life and aware of intimate details of the prophets own humanity that can be very challenging to deal with while maintaining proper perspective toward Jeremiah’s calling and commission. Jesus spoke of this in dealing with his own family:
[Mat 13:57 KJV] 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
In this chapter, we see that Baruch is struggling with the cost of being so closely identified with Jeremiah. When Jeremiah came before the king, Baruch would have been with him. When Jeremiah was put in prison, Baruch would have been threatened with imprisonment as well. To all intents it seems that Baruch bravely stood by his friend Jeremiah’s side, but he did have attitude problems. He felt or at least expected that there would be a reward for his steadfastness and surely there is reward, but to hold this expectation as a motivation for standing by a man or woman of God is held in question in this chapter.
This chapter is out of chronological order with other chapters as the latter part of the book of Jeremiah seems to be. The compiling of Jeremiah’s writings are almost like a sheaf of papers, the latter passages of which were seemingly placed together without indexing them in the order in which the events they cover took place. This chapter speaks of things that took place during Jehoikim’s reign, who was the third king before the exile to Babylon. Jehoikim’s reign would not last and his brother after him (Jecononiah) would only rule 3 months before Zedekiah was placed in power. Zedekiah was the last monarch of Judah before the captivity to Babylon.
In verse 2 Jeremiah prophesies to Baruch, exposing a complaint in Baruch’s heart, that apparently Baruch has been hiding from Jeremiah. The structure of this passage is in the form of what we call “personal prophecy” today. God is speaking through Jeremiah, directly to Baruch. Those who claim that personal prophecy is not scriptural, or not found in the bible are not careful students of holy writ. Personal prophecy is found throughout the scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, and this passage is a singular example of this contention. Of course, while grudgingly admitting that Jeremiah’s words to Baruch fit this description, many will mock and question the so-called audacity of any minister today claiming to speak over someone with the authority (who do you think you are?) of a Jeremiah, to which the answer would be then by what authority do any ministers in the modern day presume to speak in God’s name to their constituencies? As spoken in another context, what is the wheat to the chaff? If you have something to share with someone, be faithful to do it!
Baruch is discouraged because he has not been personally advantaged to the degree of his expectation by his association with Jeremiah. He feels as though somehow, he has earned a demand for reward because of the rigors endured while standing by faithfully serving the prophet during his difficult circumstances and situations connected with his calling and ministry. Have you been fortunate to have a close relationship with an influential or powerful leader? It is very important to maintain a right heart in such instances. Solomon spoke of this as well:
[Pro 23:1-2 KJV] 1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite.
I have learned over the years that being close to powerful people seldom leads to reward or personal benefit. Jesus dealt with this in his own followers on several occasions:
[Mar 9:33-35 KJV] 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who [should be] the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.
Why were the disciples disputing? Because during Jesus’ ministry there were times that it seemed very certain that their Master was about to be elevated to the status of a king, usurping Herod the Great and establishing God’s kingdom on earth in Jerusalem. They were jockeying for position, in their own minds spending their rewards for proximity to Jesus before they earned them. In reality to a man (exempting Judas and John) each one of them would suffer martyrdom and live lives of extraordinary sacrifice. What are your expectations? Whether you deal with this in your personal walk with God or because you are in the inner circle of a man or woman of God, these are questions you must deal with. Jesus is saying in this passage in Mark that rather than thinking about what is in it for yourself you should be focusing on being of service to all in the name of the kingdom you are called to submit to.
In answer to Baruch’s complaint, the prophetic word to him questions his focus. In verse 5 the Lord questions why Baruch should be pining for personal reward when all the nation of God’s people were being plucked up and sent into captivity? Many prophets and prophetic people expect reward and blessing while at the same time prophesying difficulty and damnation on humanity. This is the error of Baruch. He wasn’t thinking of others, he was thinking of himself. Nonetheless, God promises Baruch that his life will be spared, even though we have no inkling that he ever adjusted his attitude.
Have you ever stood in need of an attitude adjustment in these areas? Have you ever been tempted to think that you have “paid your dues” and now it is time for God to bless you for your faithfulness? This question is more than an intellectual exercise. Jesus dealt with this over and over in his teachings throughout the gospels. In Matthew 6:33, perhaps the most well known verse after John 3:16 we see the principle:
[Mat 6:33 KJV] 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
It isn’t wrong to expect blessing. Many take the above scripture to claim that one should embrace poverty, want and lack as a virtue extolled by God Himself. That is an absolute lie. If we seek the kingdom – all things will be added. It isn’t wrong to believe for this or to expect this. In fact if we do not expect this and believe for God’s blessing we fall into a hypocritical, holier-than-thou attitude of entrenched unbelief that can corrupt and totally pollute our testimony. The lesson is however, (a lesson that Baruch failed to maintain) is that we put SEEKING the kingdom FIRST before expecting or hoping for something for ourselves. In this way and this way only do we receive the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow with it.
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