Shortest chapter in the Bible. I think.
I’m really not sure if this is the shortest passage in the Bible or not, but it sure is terse. Jeremiah’s personal scribe was named Baruch. In Jeremiah chapter 45, the prophet shares God’s thoughts with his scribe:
When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the LORD has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”
This is a very interesting passage. I’ve found that the book of Jeremiah is not written chronologically; I don’t know if there is an order to it or not, or if it is simply a compilation of God’s word to Jeremiah that Baruch wrote down for our sakes.
I wonder what kind of Christian Baruch was. He certainly served Jeremiah wholeheartedly; secretly, however, he must have pitied himself. He must have looked around at his situation in life and been discouraged. Maybe he thought something like, “if only I were born during the times of King David, or King Solomon, then I would have had the opportunity to really excel. I would have really served God!”
If only Jesus was sent into the world during different “times”… to better men that served God better! Jesus called the generation of men into which he was born “sinful and adulterous.” Can we imagine? If God didn’t send Jesus when the “time had fully come,” he would still be alive today. He would be king on earth! Peter brought up the same idea to him, when he told Jesus not to go be killed. Jesus told him to “get behind me, Satan.”
But he is still alive. God used the “times” to put our Savior to death in order to accomplish the salvation of the world. This was no small thing; and God unbridled evil, and evil men, to accomplish the forgiveness of sins through the pre-ordained murder of his innocent Son. That was pure evil that God turned into the “wounds” by which we are “healed.”
Baruch was never able to serve the Lord the way that he had chosen because the evil that existed at his time changed the lay of the land to such an extent that he often feared for his life because he served God. He bore a cross that led him to deny himself. He lost his life and his dreams and delusions of grandeur, but God promised him that he would save his life.
Baruch was never guaranteed an easy life, nor was he coddled. God told him the truth. The world is under judgment, wrath, and exile. Can’t you hear God saying to Baruch: “Don’t seek your own glory, but realize that you have me. I am with you and will save your life.”
Baruch lived, perhaps, to write these wonderful words of God as spoken through Jeremiah:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Where has God limited your capabilities? Have you had your heart broken or your dreams shattered? Will you become a great man or woman in the future because of your talents and abilities? Or have you lost a part of your drive and your will?
Baruch did. He would never become what he wanted to be. He had to bear that cross. But, because of what Jesus would accomplish centuries later, Baruch would live forever in faith. He was a lowly scribe who would be enslaved with Jeremiah and brought to Egypt. Yet, he played a part in the salvation story, which is the only story that will last forever. Though he wanted tinsel, God promised his soul gold. Pure gold. Even though he is “worn out” and “groans” under the oppression that he witnesses, his life would be spared and he would serve the Lord forever in heaven.
We bear our crosses the same as Baruch bore his; because God promised to “spare” our lives and give us eternal life through faith in Jesus, we can let those “delusions of grandeur” in a “sinful and adulterous generation” fall to the wayside.