Reading through the Bible together
The previous chapter (Jer. 44) dealt with the events ten years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon (586-576 BC). This chapter (Jer. 45) is out of sequence and belongs back to complete chapter 36, which is a record of God’s message given to Jeremiah for King Jehoiakim of Judah years earlier in 604 BC. For some reason Jeremiah could not go, so he asked Baruch to go and read the message of God to the unrepentant king and his servants. Jeremiah 45:3 makes it clear that Baruch had a terrible fear of performing his duty as he said, “Woe is me now! For the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” Baruch must have wanted some word from God assuring him of His protection from the impious king Jehoiakim.
There are at least four points God made clear. Firstly, God was going to allow the destruction of Jerusalem. Secondly, God also felt sad to destroy what He Himself had built, and pull up what He Himself had planted. Thirdly, Baruch was not to expect good results from carrying out this assignment. Lastly, God did guarantee the safety of Baruch’s life after he gave the message.
King Jehoiakim burned the scroll that Baruch had written (36:23), and ordered his servants to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah, but God hid them from the sight of the king and his servants (36:26). After Jehoiakim burned the scroll, God ordered Baruch to rewrite the same message again on a new scroll (36:28, 32). After this incident the Ethiopian Ebed-Melech received a similar message of divine encouragement (39:16-18) just as Baruch had received this message before (45:4,5).
What can we learn from this chapter? Ellen G. White writes, “The Lord has no place in His work for those who have a greater desire to win the crown than to bear the cross. He wants men who are more intent upon doing their duty than upon receiving their reward---men who are more solicitous for principle than for promotion” (MH 476, 477).
We need to pray that we would be like Jeremiah and Baruch, doing our duty no matter what, without expecting a reward.Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan