Jeremiah 45 - Outline of Jeremiah (Book Notes menu page)
Appendix: Message to Baruch, ch. 45
Jeremiah's ministry to his people closes at the end of ch.44, where His final prophecy is of judgment upon the unbelieving remnant of Judah, after they fled to Egypt. The remainder of the book consists of appendices, written, for the most part, prior to the fall of Jerusalem. The final chapter (ch.52) is a recapitulation of Jerusalem's fall and adds some details to the account given in ch.39.

Chapter 45 is a message directed to Baruch, Jeremiah's scribe, several years before the city fell. It is similar, in some ways, to the message given to Ebed-Melech (Jer 39:15-18). Because both of these men had trusted and obeyed the LORD, He promised to give them their lives "for a prey" {ie., a prize, a reward} during the fearful times that would befall their city and nation. There is also an element of rebuke and correction in the message to Baruch, who was grieving the personal effects of the LORD's judgment upon the nation.

[The editor has chosen to present the comments on this brief chapter in narrative form, as a sermon, rather than in the outline format followed for the rest of the book of Jeremiah.]

A Harsh Word for a Blessed Man, (Read Jer 45:1-5.)
     [Note: In the text below, references beginning with 'v.' are in this chapter.]

Their world was crumbling before their eyes. The signs of the times stood out vividly, to those who were watching. Judgment was already beginning to fall upon their sinful nation, according to the Words which the Lord had spoken, by Jeremiah and other prophets. And... it would only get worse. There was reason to sigh and lament the troubles that were coming.

Do you sigh and grieve for the condition of our world, and nation, and people? You should, for we live in a time which is very similar to the time of Jeremiah and Baruch. It may well be that you and I need to hear the message that the Lord gave to Baruch.

This is a rather unusual chapter. Most of Jeremiah's messages were addressed to whole nations, or to specific kings. But this was a personal message from God to a man called Baruch. His name is a Hebrew word that means "Blessed." More often than not, Jewish prayers begin with this word: "Baruch ata Adonai..." "Blessed art Thou, O Lord..."

Even in the midst of his sorrows, Baruch was a blessed man, because of his right relationship to the Lord. If you are a true child of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, you also are "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph 1:3), no matter what you may endure while here on earth.

So, what was Baruch enduring? The fact that the Lord's message came to him "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah..." (v.1) is significant. So, let's take a moment to review a little history.

The kings mentioned here (v.1) were "kings of Judah." Under David and Solomon, the twelve tribes of Israel were united in one kingdom. But shortly after Solomon's death, about 350 years before Jeremiah's time, the nation was split by civil war. The ten northern tribes became the kingdom of Israel, and turned rapidly to idol worship under the leadership of ungodly kings. The two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David, and to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. The southern kingdom was called 'Judah' because that was the larger of the two tribes, and it was the tribe from which David came.

Ninety years before Jeremiah's time, judgment had already fallen upon the northern kingdom of Israel. The people and their kings had forgotten the Lord their God. They mocked and mistreated the messengers He had sent to warn them, and persisted in their willful disregard of His Word and of His calls for repentance.
     But the day came when God, who is always true to His Word, allowed the kingdom of Israel to fall and be carried away captive into Assyria. It was during that time that Asaph wrote Psalm 80 (read it). Although Asaph lived in Jerusalem, in the southern kingdom of Judah, his heart was broken to see the nation, which God had blessed, overrun and broken by their enemies. Wasn't Israel the vine which the Lord had brought out of Egypt and planted in the promised land? But now "it is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance" (Psa 80:16).
     The Lord, who cannot countenance sin, had called them to turn from their wickness, but they had not turned to Him. Therefore, this calamity, destruction and dispersion had come upon them just as He had warned them.

Asaph spoke prophetically, that the only hope for his people was in the coming Savior: "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." (Psa 80:17-19)

This prayer won't be fully answered until our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ transforms the hearts of His people and establishes His Millennial Kingdom. But Asaph saw a partial answer in his day, when a great revival swept the kingdom of Judah, led by King Hezekiah. At that time, the southern kingdom was also in danger of conquest by Assyria, but they were spared, because they turned to the Lord.
     However, most of the kings who followed Hezekiah were wicked, and the nation again wandered far from God. In fact, over the years, God's Word had been entirely forgotten... until Jeremiah's father, a priest named Hilkiah, found a scroll of the Law (ie., the books of Moses) buried under rubble in the Temple, during Josiah's reign. When he heard it read, king Josiah was so moved that he commanded that it should be read to all the people. And again, there was great revival. Jeremiah's ministry began in the days leading up to that revival. His fiery preaching called the people to true repentance.

Jeremiah's ministry spanned forty years, beginning at the spiritual high point of Josiah's reign, and continuing through the decline and depravity of the last four kings of Judah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.

Perhaps we can compare those days of spiritual renewal to the time in our country (USA), in the 1950s and 1960s, when great evangelistic campaigns swept the land and many turned to Christ. Perhaps the earlier revival under King Hezekiah, corresponds with our history in the previous century, which saw the revivals in the days of D.L.Moody and C.H.Spurgeon. In any case, it has happened to us, as it happened to them. They turned toward the Lord, but not for long. They sought Him enmass, but for the most part, only superficially. When God blessed them with economic prosperity, they were consumed by the empty promises of gods that were not gods.

That was the situation by the fourth year of Jehoiakim (v.1), when this message was given to Baruch. Jehoiakim was the second of good king Josiah's sons to succeed him. The first, Jehoahaz, "did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord" and he was taken captive to Egypt after only three months on the throne. Jehoiakim was no better. He restored the idol worship which Josiah had removed. He led the people in terrible defilements related to the worship of false gods, including sexual perversions and the sacrifice of innocent children.

The Lord spoke powerfully through Jeremiah to condemn these sins, pleading with the people to turn back to Him, or else He would send the Babylonians to destroy their nation and take them away as captives, just as it had happened to the northern kingdom, not so long before.

Here is a sample of what God said to them: (Read Jer 25:1-11).
But they mocked Jeremiah and threw him in prison, so that they would not be troubled by his preaching. But God is patient and wanted to make sure they got His message. Therefore, He committed His message to writing, as recorded in Jer 36:1-4 (read it)...

So, God's Word (everything that He had spoken by Jeremiah from the reign of Josiah until the fourth year of Jehoiakim), concerning sin and impending judgment, was written down by Baruch. Then, God's prophet issued a further command to his scribe (read Jer 36:5-8). Baruch obeyed and read God's Word to the people, and before the priests and the elders of the city, because Jeremiah's voice was muted by his imprisonment for bearing witness to the truth. Unfriendly officials confiscated the scroll from Baruch and read these words to king Jehoiakim, who cut each page from the scroll as it was read, and cast it into the fire.

You can't mock God's Word forever. There is a limit to His patience. He extends His mercy only as long as there is hope that a sinner might turn and cast himself upon the Lord, as king David had done (read Psa 51:1-3). However, when God's offer of salvation is cast aside with disdain, no hope remains (read Heb 10:28-31).

This was the underlying cause of Baruch's despair (see v.3). Although he (and Jeremiah) were secure in their salvation, the king and the nation had utterly rejected the Lord's Word. There was no hope remaining. There was nothing left, for his unrepentant nation, except God's judgment.

Even Jeremiah, God's spokesman, and Baruch, the blessed man, would be affected. In fact, their lives were already in danger. After Jehoiakim destroyed the scroll he would have slain both of these men, "but the Lord hid them" (Jer 36:26). Throughout Jeremiah's book, we frequently hear the prophet praying and expressing his fears, of persecution and personal harm, at the hands of God's enemies. The Lord never rebuked him for those fears, but rather comforted him with the assurance that his life would be preserved. Others would be slain or carried captive to Babylon, but he would be spared. The Lord gave a similar promise to Baruch (see v.5b). In fact, both Jeremiah and Baruch did live to see the deportation of Judah's final king, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of its people, at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, only twenty years later.

But here, in v.3, the Lord also gently rebukes Baruch, "Thou didst say..." The Lord knew the hidden thoughts of his heart. There was reason to grieve. But he was grieving wrongly.

Over and above Jeremiah's concerns for personal preservation, his heart overflowed with grief. He is known as the weeping prophet. But he did not weep for himself. His tears flowed from the heart of God Himself (read Jer 9:1-3). God's people had corrupted themselves, to their own destruction, and it broke His heart (read Jer 8:18-22).

Baruch, on the other hand, grieved for selfish reasons, over dashed ambitions (v.3):

Beside that, what future could there be, if Jeremiah's prophecies were true? The signs were all there. The Lord had been withholding rain. The crops were failing. There was terror on every side as multiple enemies picked away at what once had been the world's super power. Their national treasure had been drained to appease other nations, who had turned against them anyway. The nation's spiritual and political elite were in denial of the true conditions, and in confusion as to what to do about them.

Isn't that a picture of our times, and of our national condition? Judgment is coming upon our world and nation. It may be no farther away than it was in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Will it mess up your plans?

v.4 ..."That which I have built will I break down..." The Lord was about to judge Jerusalem, and remove kings from the throne, that He had promised to David forever.
     "...That which I have planted I will pluck up..." He was about to uproot Israel, the vine that He had planted in the land, that He promised to them forever.

Of course, the story of God's people is not finished. The Lord will yet restore Israel under the Son of David. But consider this:

Read v.5a... Do you seek a name for yourself, a place of importance and distinction among men? You're looking for the wrong thing, in the wrong place.

Are you a blessed man? a child of God, through faith in Jesus Christ? The apostle John, writes to you in 1John 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." This world is condemned already for sin. It will not be long before the judgment falls. What then of human ambition or acclaim?

But to those who place their trust in Him, the Lord promises to give life, in the face of judgment (see v.5b). For us, judgment for sin has already been poured out upon Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and arose out of death, so that all who trust in Him should not die, but live. (Read John 3:14-18,36; 1Joh 5:1,11,12)

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