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JEREMIAH 45:1-5

BARUCH, JEREMIAH'S SECRETARY

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, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; 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. 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. 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.

 

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1:

Today we begin a study of Jeremiah 45:1-5, that whole chapter. It's obviously short, but very informative.

The central character of the Text is a man named Baruch. I think he can best be called Jeremiah's secretary.

He is mentioned in Scripture 23 times, if I've calculated correctly. Other men in the Bible bear this same name of course.

"Baruch" means "blessed one!" It is closely related to the Hebrew verb "barak," which means "to keel, to bless, to salute" and can even mean "to praise."

Baruch, by implication, is a blessed man. But how is he so blessed, in what way?

Several answers may be given to that question, all valid responses. But here's where we'll start today. Baruch is always associated with the Prophet Jeremiah, one of the greatest men of God who ever lived.

Back in Jeremiah 32 Baruch assisted the prophet in the purchase of a piece of land. That property was sort of an object lesson to the people of Judah. An illustration that God would not forsake Israel, her real estate, forever! Buying land, in a forsaken nation! Yet God had future plans for every inch of it, still does too!

Baruch the servant of Jeremiah, even in business dealings! Think of the honor of living that near "the weeping Prophet," observing and listening and responding to his day by day actions. Including his business proceedings! 

Next we see Baruch in Jeremiah chapter 36. There he writes words from the lips of Jeremiah. Divinely inspired words, Holy Scripture! "Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book." Jeremiah 36:4

All I am saying is this. The greatest blessing Baruch may have ever known was his association with that man of God. With Jeremiah.

Why might I say this?

Because of a verse in Proverbs, really. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20

If I associate with godly men and women, their lives will "impact" mine! It's that simple. According to Scripture.

The converse is true too. If I make friends with foolish people, their lives can ruin mine just as easily!

Baruch, constant friend to Jeremiah!

And a blessed man!

Among your friends is there a wise person?

If not, do something about that immediately.

"Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go. Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." Proverbs 22:24-25

Wow!

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

It's obvious that Baruch is a discouraged man. He is a co-worker with Jeremiah the Prophet, a secretary type assistant.

God told this man Baruch, in Jeremiah 45:3, his very innermost thoughts!  "O Baruch, 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."

Yes, he is downtrodden.

But why?

Why so depressed?

Jeremiah 45:1 may hold a clue. "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 ...."

Notice the king under whose reign these men labored for the Lord. Jeremiah 1:1-3 adds further information too. "To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month."

One good King, Josiah, followed by two bad ones, very bad ones! And two more bad ones occupied Judah's throne in the middle of the reigns of these three!

One good King, then four bad, in the sense of sinful, Kings!

That's enough to make any godly person discouraged!

Yes, the spiritual condition of one's nation has an impact on the lives of its citizens.

Some of these Kings persecuted Jeremiah and Baruch. Imprisoned them and physically abused them as well.

That can impact a man's outlook on life too!

Listen to the Book of Proverbs as it addresses government, good or bad.

"A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them." Proverbs 20:26, Kings who tolerate open wickedness are not wise!

"Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness." Proverbs 25:5, wicked associates will shorten a King's administration, his time in office.

"The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it." Proverbs 29:4, rulers who take bribes will sell themselves for anything of value!

"It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness." Proverbs 16:12, God detests wicked politicians and office holders!

"As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people." Proverbs 28:15, ungodly rulers do not usually consider the poor. Not out of a pure heart anyway.

 "If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked." Proverbs 29:12, untruthful advisers will ruin a government!

No wonder Baruch and sometimes even Jeremiah stayed so discouraged! They did call the Jeremiah the "weeping" prophet, if you remember.

Today let's pray for our government and its leaders.

Their philosophies and practices and beliefs will affect us all, even in our spiritual lives.

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

Today's lesson is about fathers and sons, the impact of godly parenting. Mothers are involved too, dramatically and powerfully so, but Jeremiah 45:1 illustrates with men.

"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 ...." Our text these days is that whole chapter, Jeremiah 45, but it only contains five verses.

Notice the words "Baruch the son of Neriah." Herein is today's thought. A little boy often follows his Dad's steps. For good or evil, depending on the examples left by the parent.

We've already seen how very blessed Baruch was, spiritually blessed. In fact, his name means just that "blessed." Friend of Jeremiah, friend of God, writer of Scripture, protected by the Lord! Blessings upon blessings!

But how did this man, a learned man of some accomplishment, how did he arrive at such a state of blessedness?

And many answers might exist to that question.

The greatest of which is the Grace of God!

But just maybe, in Baruch's case, another reason can be considered too.

That being his godly Father.

Because "Baruch," which means "blessed" is the son of Neriah, "which means "light of God!"

A man who is named after one of God's Character Traits!

A man who perhaps lived his whole earthly existence in a way compatible with "God's Light!"

Light, a visible manifestation of God's Glory, is one of the major components of God's Essence. Of Who God is, of His Being.

A Dad who walks in God's Light.

A son who is blessed beyond measure!

Seems right, doesn't it?

And probably, most of the time, this principle still works today. Parents, let's live that way, pleasing to Almighty God.

Our children and grandchildren no doubt will benefit thereby.

                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

Today our verse is short. And it might be relatively unimportant, at first glance. But that is not true!

God is speaking to a man named Baruch.  I agree that this message from the Lord is mediated through Jeremiah the Prophet. But so is nearly everything else we know about Baruch also.

Still, God is speaking to this man, this secretary of Jeremiah's, this human being named Baruch.

"Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch ...." Jeremiah 45:2, and did God say a lot in a few words!

The message we shall examine later, Lord willing. Today I'd just like to notice the fact that God did communicate with Baruch the dedicated servant.

"Lord" utilizes God's Hebrew Name "Jehovah." It means the God Who "is." He is the Great "I am" of history, of eternity! He always is! This Name alone is used 6,519 times in the Old Testament! Very God of Very God ... talking to Baruch! What an honor!

The the proper noun "God" translates the Hebrew word "Elohiym," emphasizing the Trinitarian nature of God! One God Who manifests Himself as Father and Son and Spirit! The "El" in that Name also means One with "Power!"Great Power, Almighty Power, Omnipotent!

The verb "saith" employs "amar," a primary word meaning "to speak, to utter, to call." It might hint at the manner of speech as well as the content of that given oration. God is thus talking to be "understood," yet also talking to be "felt."

Then the recipient of the message, Baruch himself. "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch ...." 

What an honor!

For God to send a person a word from Heaven above!

To hear from the Creator of the universe!

To communicate with the Redeemer of humankind!

Here it is once again. "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch ...." 

Wow!

Why do I feel this is so significant?

I remember a man who begged for God to speak to him, but all to no avail. No success at all!

King Saul, of the Old Testament. "And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets." First Samuel 28:6, Saul died shortly after this event happened. This rejection by God. Saul "earnestly searched" for  God, and God ignored the man altogether! This is astounding.

Makes our text all the more a blessing! "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch ...." 

The New Testament contains a similar scene, where Jesus would not even speak to a man!

King Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist.

Let me briefly tell you the story. Jesus is under arrest and bveing interrogated by Pilate. "And as soon as Pilate knew that Jesus belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing." Luke 23:7-9, not a word from Jesus to Herod!

God is amazing. God is answerable to no man! He does what He pleases what He righteously chooses! And He can do no wrong.

He loves everyone.

He died for everyone.

Yet here He communes, He talks with Baruch. And not with Saul or Herod or no doubt many more.

Baruch, count your blessings! "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch ...." 

And Mike Bagwell, count yours too!

I can honestly say, along with millions of other Christians, God talks to me very day!

Baruch is not the only blessed person who ever lived!

Let's say to the Lord what young Samuel did that night long ago. And praise him heartily if such a scene occurs. "Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth." First Samuel 3:9, how humbling!

Lord, we're listening.

Thank You for talking!

God speaking ...

Through His Word, the Bible.

Through His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Through His Preachers, many of them.

Speak Lord, Oh please do so.

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

His name is Baruch. He is the secretary for the Prophet Jeremiah, writing all those prophecies we so highly treasure.

Yet one day he experienced what we might now call depression. Or discouragement, or maybe even complaining, perhaps to the point of sinfulness!

Let's listen. "Baruch, 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." Jeremiah 45:3

Today we note those first three words, directly quoted from this otherwise godly man. "Woe is me!" Or more fully, "Woe is me now!"

These very words are found elsewhere in the Bible too. Seven times in fact. Isaiah used them in his great sixth chapter.

So did the Psalmist.

Micah the Prophet too.

But some of those times that little sentence is properly spoken, with God's blessings upon it. And at other times that's not the case at all!

Same words, different reactions from the Lord!

When Isaiah said "Woe is me," he had just seen the glorified Lord sitting on His Throne! Isaiah was repenting and worshipping, humbly so. Of course God was pleased. "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Isaiah 6:5

The same situation existed with the Psalmist I believe. "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!" Psalm 120:5, spiritual growth is in his future! He's moving toward the city of God!

But when Baruch says those words, he is grumbling! Our verse again, "Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest." The Lord is being blamed here, for Baruch's trials and problems and pressures.

And God is soon going to rebuke Jeremiah's helper. Clearly so. God is soon to chasten his child Baruch!

Lesson for us all today?

It's not always what we say that counts the most.

But how we say it!

With what attitude?

With what condition of heart?

Some have prayed and not received an answer, maybe because their hearts were not right with God.

Others may have prayed the very same words with spectacular results, answers falling everywhere from Heaven above, because their attitudes and motives were correct!

Do remember Psalm 66:18. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."

So to my heart this morning, and to yours, I caution us to not grumble and complain about our circumstances in life. Accept them gladly as from God. Do not "murmur," as Paul has the word.

Be grateful to God for life itself.

Live for Jesus and love Him diligently.

Then, whenever you say "Woe is me" or anything else remotely spiritual, rest assured. God will be pleased.

Then we can honestly pray as did another writer in Psalm 19:14. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."

Yes, Lord.

                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

Pretty strong words!

Though I'm sure Baruch spoke them sincerely, honestly.

And as a follower of Almighty God the man had endured some hardship. Still, his words are pretty judgmental.

Talking directly to those around him, Baruch said: "The Lord hath added grief to my sorrow." Jeremiah 45:3

Wow!

He's feeling sorry for himself. He had just said, in a pitiful way no doubt, "Woe is me now." He is accenting his troubles! Looking on the dark side of everything. We've all done this at one time or another.

But to accuse the Lord?

Or to grumble at the Lord's dealings in one's life?

Yes, Baruch did say it: "The Lord hath added grief to my sorrow."

The noun "grief" is "yagon," meaning "anguish." It's from a root verb meaning "to hurt" someone, "to cause pain, to afflict." This is a pretty strong charge!

"Sorrow" translates "makob," which means "sadness." It also can mean "scaring" and "disfigurement."

Baruch believes the Lord has really worked him over!

Trial after trial!

Heartache after heartache!

Now anyone can become discouraged. Most of us have, at least on occasion. But to get mad at God? To blame Him for wrongful treatment?

The verb "hath added" is "yasaph," as if God is doing something again and again and again! "Piling on," they call it in football!

Sure, Baruch is just having a bad day. A low spiritual moment. Jeremiah did before him, as well as Elijah and Job and John the Baptist, among many others in Scripture.

Yet there are exceptions to the norm!

For example, Here's Joseph. After the false accusations and imprisonment, not counting his own brothers selling him into slavery! "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good." Genesis 50:20, some called it "evil." But Joseph saw in it only "good," from the hand of the Lord!

No grumbling here!

Just trusting God!

That sweet old "He knows best" attitude!

Also Habakkuk. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18, where this minor Prophet had already decided to praise the Lord, no matter how bad this get!

Maybe a lot of this, grumbling or rejoicing, depends on one thing, one's very attitude! Or one's trust in God above! Or a person's belief in the fact that God really does care!

Largely, the choice is ours.

Baruch said: "The Lord hath added grief to my sorrow."

Joseph said, "You brothers meant to hurt me, God meant it for my good."

What do we say when troubles hit us?

                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

We don't always mean what we say.

Baruch probably didn't either.

On that day he was so very discouraged.

That day that is mentioned in Jeremiah 45:3. "Baruch, 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."

Goodness!

Today we must discuss this little clause, "I fainted in my sighing." It's a window into this man's soul!

The verb "fainted" translates "yaga" in Hebrew, which means "to grow weary, to toil to exhaustion." Only once in the Bible is it rendered as "fainted," right here in our text.

Now it is possible to grow "weary" in well doing. Even the always working Apostle Paul says so! "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

But at times one can "faint" way too soon!

The noun for "sighing" is "anachah," which means "mourning" as for a dead person. Or means "groaning" as when in physical or emotional pain.

Wow!

We now have a pretty good glimpse into Baruch's personality. At least at the time these words were written.

"I fainted in my sighing."

I once heard a preacher say this, almost word for word. "The test of a person's character is what it takes to stop him!" What it takes to discourage her! What it takes to turn you aside from your assigned task!

Not much for Baruch!

"I fainted in my sighing."

John Mark quit on that first missionary journey.

Demas quit Paul too, at the worst possible moment, "having loved this present world."

Jonah quit several times as well.

Pastors often resign too soon, rather and stay and faith the entrenched power machine that runs that little Church! That deacon or two, and their wives.

Like Baruch each of these could have said, "I fainted." The "troubles" were too big for me!

But now here's Someone Who did not quit!

Who never became weary!

Who did not faint!

Jesus Christ our Saviour!

Listen to Him talk about the greatest Ordeal He would ever face, His Death on that old rugged Cross.

Isaiah 50:6 starts us. Here are Jesus' words written in advance. "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting." Hear that determination? See any hint of fainting?

Let's continue with our Lord. "For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." Verse 6 now, Jesus will not run from the Cross! Rather, He sets His Face "like a flint," like a hard rock! He is resolved to go die for our sins!

There's more! "Who will contend with me? Let us stand together: Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me." Isaiah 50:7, in the context of Jesus' vicarious Death for you and me. Our Lord is really saying something like this, "Bring it on, Devil! Let's fight it out! At the Cross! Let's see who wins the Battle for men's and women's souls!"

Wow!

Jesus did not faint!

Jesus did not sigh!

Jesus conquered!

The writer of Hebrews picks up on this theme and admonishes us when we get weary or discouraged. "For consider Him, Jesus, That endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Hebrews 12:3

In fact, the Prophet Isaiah again tells us of Jesus: "He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." Isaiah 42:4

Jesus will never be discouraged!

Never has been!

Never will be!

What a Saviour!

What an Example!

How very unlike Baruch. Poor little Baruch, "I fainted in my sighing."

Yet Praise the Lord for a Perfect Saviour!

One Who never quits!

                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

The words are sad, especially from a follower of the Lord God Almighty. Well, maybe not sad as much as pitiful.

Baruch, Jeremiah's long-time helper, said: "I find no rest." or at least that's the last point he emphasizes in his cry of frustration.

"Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest." Jeremiah 45:3

Of the countless things, blessings really, God pours upon His people, rest is near the top of the list!

Listen to Jesus. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

But Baruch has no rest.

Part of his lament is justified. He and Jeremiah had been maligned and persecuted and threatened, even with their very lives.

There is rest in the Lord!

But somehow Baruch has missed it. Or lost it temporarily. Or has entered a time of particular agitation.

"I find no rest."

Without rest, one tires and becomes weary.

Without rest, one might start grumbling and complaining.

Without rest, depression quickly comes.

Now let's think.

Where, or maybe how, can rest be found, real repose?

Paul in Romans 15:4 has an idea! From the Scriptures! The Apostle assures us that the Bible has "comfort" for us, a noun meaning "consolation, encouragement, rest, revival."

The Holy Spirit can give such rest too. One of His very manifestations, an aspect of the "fruit" He produces, is "peace." Peace that brings gentle rest.

God the Father gives rest too. He, as our Shepherd, can make us lie down in green pastures and restore our souls. Both these pictures are Psalm 23 metaphors for rest.

But then this too. Rest can be given from Heaven above as an answer to prayer! For someone we love. In Romans 15:32 Paul asked the Roman Christians to pray for him, their preacher. One of the requests he specifically desires is "refreshment." A Greek noun that means "pause," or as you might have thought, "rest!"

Baruch is bothered about many things, it seems.

And he was a busy and important man. Without him, we might not even possess the great Book of Jeremiah!

But still, he needed his rest. And he could not find any. And he was unhappy about that. he seems to have blamed God for all that frustration and pressure he was enduring!

"Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest."

But for you and me, living on the "afterwards" side of the Cross and the Empty tomb, we can find rest.

Rest as never before!

Hebrews 4:9 is right, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."

Let's claim it!

And enjoy it!

Resting in Jesus, and His finished Work of Redemption!

                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

Some preachers have called it "God's Strange Act." Isaiah the Prophet did, in fact.

Here it is, word for word. "For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." Isaiah 28:21

What is this "strange" thing?

Judgment.

Judgment from God.

God is so kind and gracious and merciful and willing to forgive that He does not hurriedly punish or inflict His Wrath on anyone.

And when He does finally unleash His terrible sword of justice, it all seems so very strange, so unusual, so nearly our-of-character for our Heavenly father!

But get this, God does judge iniquity!

Ultimately.

Finally.

And that's what Isaiah is talking about, preaching to Israel.

He will even judge His backslidden people. If they persist in their rebellion. "Hardening their necks," as the Old Testament has said.

And it's in a climate of judgment, an environment of the freely flowing wrath of God, that the Prophet Jeremiah and his trusted assistant Baruch find themselves.

And these hardships and trials and reversals have discouraged Baruch, Jeremiah too at times, but Baruch especially in our Text.

And Baruch began to, as Moses did before him, speak unadvisedly with his lips. "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; 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." Jeremiah 45:2-3

Baruch has  missed something.

Something about the Essence of God.

About God's Ways, especially His strange ways!

Baruch had apparently not discovered and prayed Psalm 25:4. "Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths."

When God judges, everyone may suffer, even including some of God's choice children! Some of His most dedicated!

People like Jeremiah and Baruch!

So God adds another paragraph of instruction for His men. This word is coming from God to Jeremiah to Baruch. "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." Jeremiah 45:4

God is soon going to "break down" some things! "Haras" means "to tear up, to overthrow, to destroy!" And "pluck up" simply means "to forsake, to expel, to root out!"

Wow!

God in the destruct mode!

God will mar His Land, because of the sins, unconfessed sins, of the people! He just said so.

And that strange action of God's, stark judgment, if properly understood, might help us keep from getting so very discouraged when times get hard!

God might be purging and pruning and chastening His Own people!

When such hard times come, let's get tough.

Let's not demand a lot of pity and let's not act like babies. Let's accept the fact that God is doing what's right, even if it affects our jobs and families and churches, and let us be faithful in well doing!

Let's not complain.

God knows what He is doing.

Let's trust Him, even when judgment has fallen.

Get ready, Baruch, God is about to whip some disobedient Jews!

And get ready America, it could happen here too!

God's Strange Act.

                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

Based on what the Lord said to Baruch, he possessed some grandiose plans for himself. A servant to Jeremiah, a secretary apparently, Baruch had high aspirations!

God asked the man, "Seekest thou great things for thyself?" That's the exact question too, taken from Jeremiah 45:5.

This strongly implies that Baruch was seeking great things, for himself too. How else can this question be read?

What Baruch wanted no one knows.

Maybe money.

Maybe power.

Maybe possessions.

Maybe popularity.

None of which he had!

"Seekest thou great things for thyself?"

One possibility exists. Baruch had a brother. His name was Seraiah, meaning "God is my Ruler," more literally, "Jehovah is ruler."

Seraiah is mentioned most fully in Jeremiah 51:59. "The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince."

His brother, Baruch's, was a prince!

This may be the source of the secretary's covetousness.

Baruch may have wanted political position or a comfortable appointment or some government pension, all accessible to him through his princely brother!

I said "may have wanted." We cannot be sure.

Again, God asked Baruch: "Seekest thou great things for thyself?"

Another Old Testament Prophet had an unsatisfied servant, Elisha. His man was named Gehazi. He wanted money and clothes and lots of things, but only got leprosy because of his excessive greed! You can read this account in Second Kings chapter five.

Gehazi certainly wanted great things for himself.

But Baruch is a better man than that. Baruch had been a faithful recorder of God's Words for years. Baruch had been a good friend to Jeremiah too. Yet he seems to have been easily discouraged. And not easily satisfied!

Now I'm thinking of Paul. The opposite to these wanting-more-and-more servants of the Lord.

Listen to this giant in the faith. "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11

And this too. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." First Timothy 6:8

This is good as well. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." First Timothy 4:10

Baruch soon conquered those desires, that of craving great things for himself. He finishes his life faithfully obeying his Lord.

But what about you and me?

"Seekest thou great things for thyself?"

Now let's let the Lord answer His Own question.

"Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not."

Turn your eyes on Someone more important!

Not on the great things of earth.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

Good advice.

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11:

God just told a man, one of his choice servants, not to seek a certain thing! For this man of God, the thing he desired was off limits!

He heard a clear "no" from the Lord.

Here is the Biblical record of the conversation. "And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." Jeremiah 45:5

The Lord spoke those last words, emphatically too. "Seek them not," not great things for oneself!

The Lord told Adam and Eve something they could not do too. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:17

For the Christian, some things are allowed. And some things are not permitted at all!

"Baruch, seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." Drop those grandiose plans now!

But Lord, what may I seek?

Especially, as seemed to be Baruch's case, things that might enrich a person or help his or her position in life. To better oneself, Lord.

And yet again God thunders: "And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not." 

Then what's a person to do?

How can I acquire more money or a roomier house or a better job?

Jesus has the answer. And surely this is also why God forbade Baruch's self serving attitude. If this was self serving.

Matthew 6:33, right after Jesus had talked about things like rich foods and lavish drinks and vast wardrobes. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

"Seek" as used here, a Greek verb spelled "zeteo," means "to strongly desire, to strive after, to crave" and at times can even mean "to demand!"

If we do not put ourselves first, but keep the Lord our number one Priority, seeking His Glory and Honor first of all ... then He makes us a promise!

"All these things," food and shelter and clothing and no telling what else, will be given to us!

That verb "shall be added" translates a word that precisely means "place right alongside" you!

Seek things that please God!

Then He will provide all the rest of life's needs for you and your family!

Wow!

So, here are the two options available today. Number one: "Seeking great things for oneself!" Number two: "Seeking God's Righteousness in our lives, things that please the Lord!"

The choice should be easy!

                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12:

God spoke to Jeremiah time and time again. But on this occasion, in our Text for today. God is talking to Jeremiah on account of Baruch. For the sake of Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe or secretary.

From God to Jeremiah to Baruch, "Behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 45:5

In other words God is saying: "Baruch, not only are you having some difficult days. The whole world is going to experience such. And a whole lot worse! The time to judge and punish their blatant sin and rebellion and perversion has arrived. Hard times are here. The wrath of Almighty God is soon to be unleashed!"

And thus does God work!

Some generations see God's peace and kindness poured out in excess, prodigally.

Other generations face troublesome decades, from the powerful Hand of God nonetheless.

God's cycles of discipline are vaguely outlined in certain portions of Scripture. For example, Leviticus 26. Some years are plentiful, others are lean. Yet God is always in control.

Baruch lived in one of those dark times, yet exciting too.

Here's the point today.

We now live in the Church Age, since Pentecost anyway. Many call our time the "dispensation" of the "Grace" of God. Indeed it has been an era of some of the Lord's richest blessings.

But next, after the Lord returns to claim His own children, the Church, a time of awful judgment is going to engulf the world. The Tribulation, Jesus called it. Hard times, maybe the hardest ever, are coming.

We need to learn to read current events in the light of these cycles of the Lord's treatment of humankind.

Baruch had apparently not done so.

If so, he might not have moaned and groaned like he did. Although he was simply being very human, just like you and me. "Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch. 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." Jeremiah 45:2-3

But Baruch, not only are you facing these things, these "evils," the whole world is going to face them some day.

Folks, when God judges America for her unrepentant sins, Christians' groceries just like the sinners' groceries will become scarce! Our electricity bills will also grow exponentially. Health issues and financial crises will come our way as well! And no telling what else.

Baruch had not comprehended this, not yet anyway. So God has him in school! Learning how to live for God in difficult days!

When the things we now consider necessities do fade away, we will soon discover that God is sufficient, that God is able, and that God is ALL we need!

This valuable lesson Baruch did learn.

Of that I'm pretty sure.

Like Paul, we all need to try to learn: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:11-13

God is still God, always.

                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 13:

God is good to us all.

He was especially good to Baruch, the Prophet Jeremiah's secretary.

Baruch had not adopted the best attitude, often complaining about God's way of doing things! Yet God still blessed him, abundantly blessed him.

Here's an example of what I mean.

This is the Lord indirectly speaking to this godly scribe.

"For Baruch, 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." Jeremiah 45:5

For some reason, Grace being at its very foundation, God has decided to spare Baruch's life ... everywhere the man goes!

He will always be safe!

Again let's read it, "Thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest."

Wow!

The noun "prey" means "reward," or "a prize acquired in war," ideas like these. Spelled "shalal," it's the ancient equivalent of the "spoils" of war.

As a "treasure," God will always protect and spare Baruch's life. Until a healthy old age, of course.

The promise of long life, specifically!

Why would God do this for a not-so-outstanding person? Just a regular man who had learned some secretarial skills?

I think the answer can be found in Baruch's respect for the Word of God! For the scrolls and manuscripts Jeremiah had dictated to him.

God blesses those who honor His Word!

Baruch had invested countless hours hearing God speak to Jeremiah, writing meticulously every word. Being exact about spelling and grammar and form, no doubt as well!

Baruch then had apparently read aloud God's Word from Jeremiah, publicly!

At the risk of harm to himself!

Long ago God had promised: "Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." First Samuel 2:30

God sure does keep His Word, doesn't he?

"Baruch, thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest." No one will harm you!

Paul once likened the Bible to the "sword" of the Spirit! Sounds like a safe place to be, near God's dearest weapon, the Holy Bible!

Baruch, lover of Scripture.

Baruch, signally blessed of God!

Sounds like Psalm 1, the Christian there who so loved the Scriptures! And God's promise to him or her, "Whatsoever thou doest shall propser!" Including living, apparently!

Reminds me of the love the Psalmist had for the Word. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97

Yes!

                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 14, CONCLUSION:

A long and distinguished career, a ministry really!

That's what God gave Baruch, the faithful secretary who wrote God's Words as Jeremiah the Prophet dictated them.

Recently I did an overview of all the Bible says about this man, about Baruch. It's interesting, to say the least.

Way back in Jeremiah 32 we meet Baruch, perhaps in his capacity as a scribe, a professional man of letters. Here he's nearly a law clerk it seems. Jeremiah has been commanded by the Lord to buy some property. In a land that's soon to be vacant, all its inhabitants seized by an invading horde of troops, the Babylonians. But the purchase is an object lesson, God's proving that the land will yet be useful and needed, some day in the future. Judah, some seventy years hence, will come home and need that property! Baruch helps Jeremiah in this task, this land acquisition. In today's language Baruch would have done the title search, the recording of the deed, and the safekeeping of the papers in a secure place.

And the man did his job well.

We next meet Baruch in Jeremiah chapter 36. There he writes a text, a sermon, that God is giving Jeremiah. Fresh material, dictated instantly! Baruch then was sent to the Temple to read the sermon, facing some hostile people as he did so! Then he was summoned to the palace, to explain all this again! He faced danger and still prevailed! Reading the material he had so carefully written at Jeremiah's bidding. Baruch was even involved in the rewriting of that famous scroll which replaced the burnt Scriptures King Jehoiakim had tried to annihilate!

We also know from Jeremiah 43 that this man stayed with the old Prophet, right up to the end. They were forcefully taken to Egypt, some time after the Babylonian Captivity began! I'm saying this, Baruch was faithful to his charge! He was loyal to Jeremiah!

These facts alone breed great admiration for Baruch.

Little wonder he at times became discouraged, such difficult circumstances.

I can now even better understand some of his complaining. He was human, after all.

But still we all are surely amazed at his endurance, his tenacity and determination to stay at his God-given job!

And perhaps most of all, his devotion to the Word of God!

Little wonder God gave him this great promise. "Baruch, 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." Jeremiah 45:5

Your life will be precious!

Your life will be spared!

You are a "treasure," a "prey," a "valuable" in the eyes of God!

Reminds me of Malachi 3:17 where God calls a select group of saints His "jewels!" Word for word: "And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."

Congratulations, Baruch!

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"

Words we'd all like to hear some day. Maybe Baruch has taught us how. Yes Paul, all Scripture is "profitable!"

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

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