Collateral damage in the time of God’s judgment: Jeremiah 45
Today’s reading: Jeremiah 42-45.
“I knew God was going to judge the land because of its wickedness, but I never thought it would affect me so much.”
Baruch was Jeremiah’s secretary or scribe. He was also his messenger, and that’s where the trouble began. The messages Baruch carried to the nobles and kings were hot with judgment. Soon the heat was turned on Baruch, and he had to hide to escape it. Apparently it was more than he had expected as a scribe or assistant. God saw that he was struggling and sent Jeremiah with a prophecy just for Baruch. Look closely at the prophet’s words; someday you may find yourself in a similar situation as the land and people around you stagger under God’s discipline.
“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.’ “ [The LORD said,] “Say this to him: ‘This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. Should you then seek great things for yourself ? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ ” Jeremiah 45:2-5
First take a look at Baruch’s emotional state as he dealt with the reality of living in a land under God’s judgment:
- He was sad for himself and for his countrymen.
- He was in mental pain.
- He was physically tired.
- He despaired.
Next look at God’s description of the state of affairs. He said that he was tearing down everything he had built up in Judah and pulling up by the roots everything he had planted. This would have included homes, families, religious institutions, and the government. Nature was suffering as well as drought and famine struck the land. One more thing – it was throughout the land. No one could escape it, not even those, like Baruch, who still served the LORD.
Baruch had expected something better, some “great thing.” Maybe it was some earthly reward for doing God’s work. It could have been that old prosperity theology at work, leading him to look for health and wealth instead of fear and trembling. Maybe he just expected the people to be bowled over by God’s message and convert en masse. Or he might have wanted nothing more than quiet anonymity as he worked for God. Instead he found himself right in the cross-hairs of the king’s wrath. As God tells him, “I will bring disaster on all people.”
God speaks the truth. No rose-colored glasses for his children. When disaster comes because of God’s discipline it affects everyone, even God’s servants. By his grace, however, God gives his servants a promise. He will be with them wherever they go and whatever they go through. He guaranteed Baruch his life. That isn’t his promise for every believer, but our souls are safe and secure, and he does guarantee our eternal life whatever happens during our moments of affliction here on earth.