Scripture reading – Jeremiah 45; Jeremiah 46

 * This is the first of two Bible studies for today and is taken from Jeremiah 45.

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Having concluded his last prophetic message to the remnant of Judah that fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 44), Jeremiah’s chronological narrative was interrupted for a brief chapter. Jeremiah 45 recalled an earlier discourse between the prophet and Baruch, who served as Jeremiah’s scribe (Jeremiah 36:8).

The setting of the conversation between Jeremiah and Baruch came “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah” (Jeremiah 45:1). For context, Jehoiakim was the king who cast the prophecies of Jeremiah into a fire (Jeremiah 36:20-26). Two kings followed Jehoiakim. He was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin, who reigned for three months, and Zedekiah, who was Jehoiakim’s brother and the last king of Judah.

Penning the revelation concerning the destruction of Jerusalem a second time (Jeremiah 36:27-32), so overwhelmed Baruch that he groaned in his spirit. Discouraged and visibly shaken by God’s imminent judgment, the scribe found himself serving a prophet who was unpopular and imprisoned.


Jeremiah 45


Baruch – A Faithful, But Discouraged Servant (Jeremiah 45:1-3)

The LORD had called and ordained Jeremiah to be His prophet to Judah (Jeremiah 1); however, a man named Baruch served as the prophet’s scribe. Though Jeremiah was the spokesman for the LORD, it was his scribe whom God used to preserve His words for all generations. Knowing Jeremiah was despised by the king and the people of Judah, imagine being Baruch. He chose to associate himself with God’s prophet, though Jeremiah was hated, persecuted, and occasionally imprisoned.

Perhaps too busy with his duties or own sufferings to notice, the LORD revealed to Jeremiah that Baruch was discouraged (Jeremiah 45:1-3). The prophet confronted Baruch with his own words and said, Baruch, “Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added [increased] grief [afflictions] to my sorrow [pain; grief; anguish]; I fainted [exhausted; wearied] in my sighing [groaning’s; mourning; distress], and I find no rest” (Jeremiah 45:3).

Hearing the words of the prophecy and penning them for the historical record, Baruch fell into a state of melancholy. The personal pronouns I highlighted in verse 3 revealed a man focused on himself. Baruch was discouraged and overwhelmed, and Jeremiah 45:3 exposed the spirit of a man whose zeal had waned because he lost sight of God’s sovereignty.

Baruch – A Faithful, But Discouraged Servant

A Loving Reproof (Jeremiah 45:4-5)

The LORD instructed Jeremiah to minister to Baruch and instruct him not to place his hope and affections on temporal, earthly things. We read: “Thus shalt thou [Jeremiah] say unto him [Baruch], The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I [the LORD] have built will I [the LORD] break down [destroy], and that which I [the LORD] have planted I [the LORD] will pluck up [destroy; tear away], even this whole land” (Jeremiah 45:4).

Those words reminded Baruch that the LORD is sovereign and He does that which pleases Him and His purpose. He had the right and authority to build up or to tear down, and no man should question His will. The LORD determined that the Temple would be burned, the palaces destroyed, and the city of Jerusalem laid waste.

A Promise of Hope and Life (Jeremiah 45:5)

When we first read Jeremiah 45:5, it seems to be an unnecessary rebuke of a faithful scribe until we understand the context. The LORD challenged Baruch through Jeremiah: “And seekest [strive for] thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil [afflictions; adversity] upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” (Jeremiah 45:5). 

The shadow cast by Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon’s army engulfed the known world of Baruch’s day. There was no escaping the “evil” and path of destruction that was coming. However, though everything he had known would be destroyed, Baruch was assured his life would be spared.

A Promise of Hope and Life

Closing thoughts for Jeremiah 45 –

Jeremiah counseled Baruch not to sacrifice God’s calling for promotion or personal aspirations. Perhaps in his discouragement, he might have considered another occupation than serving as Jeremiah’s scribe. After all, his association with the prophet must have invited the disapproval of family and friends. Perhaps he had an opportunity for “greener pastures” and a more rewarding career. Jeremiah admonished Baruch not to fall prey to seeking “great things for thyself?” (Jeremiah 45:5a)

It is easy to focus on the immediate cost of serving the LORD and fail to recognize the greater risk should we disobey Him. Should Baruch have abandoned Jeremiah to pursue riches and fame, he would have experienced the loss of everything, and perhaps his life. The LORD promised to give Jeremiah’s scribe something greater than fame and promotion—LIFE! The LORD said, Baruch, “Thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” (Jeremiah 45:5).

What are you seeking? Remember that riches, possessions, titles, and fame perish! However, in the LORD, LIFE is forever!

Matthew 6:19-21 – 19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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