The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah…
Baruch reminds of Mark (Acts 13:13). Both were good and faithful men; both became discouraged; both were reheartened; both found profitable to the ministry and true to the end. Now, as we look on this Divine reheartening of Baruch, we are taught much -
I. CONCERNING GOD.
1. We see his grace. He does not overlook or forget his servants. He notes their distresses and devises means for their relief. "Like as a father pitieth," etc.
2. We see his methods with those who are as Baruch was.
(1) Though animated by love, they were severe rather than soothing; stern rather than gentle and consolatory. We have many parallels to this. Cf. ch. 12., "If thou hast run with the footmen," etc. How stern the dealing of God with Moses! No entreaty could procure the alteration of the sentence of exclusion from Canaan that had gone out against him. See also our Lord's message to John the Baptist in prison: "Go, tell John," etc. No gentle message of sympathy, but rather of rebuke for his failure of faith. So with Paul's thorn in the flesh, the Lord would not remove it. In all these cases there is rather the sharp, bracing, rousing summons to duty than words of soothing pity and tenderness. Far more like Paul's dealing with the recreant Mark - he virtually cashiered him - than that of Barnabas, who, Son of Consolation that he was, was all for comforting him and dealing gently with him.
(2) God tells him that he has heard his complainings. When we talk to ourselves, we often forget that every word is audible to God. The people about our Lord were often talking to themselves concerning him, and, though they said nothing out loud, we constantly read how "Jesus answered and said," showing that he had heard all they said.
(3) He gives him to understand that his purpose is not to be set aside because of his complainings. "The Lord saith thus." It we cannot bring our circumstances to our mind, our wisdom is to bring our mind to our circumstances. Baruch was shown that he must do this.
(4) He implies that a seeking after "high things" for himself had much to do with his complaining. He was of great ability, of noble lineage (Jeremiah 51:59; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 10. 6:2; 9:1), the grandson of Maasiah (2 Chronicles 34:8), and this may well have animated him with hopes of high office in the state, such as his brother had held; or his nearness to Jeremiah may have led him to believe that he should be the prophet's successor.
(5) He promises him that his life shall be spared, though with much difficulty - "given to him as a prey." We cannot tell what afterwards became of him. Tradition varies. There was not much comfort in all this, but rather a "What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19.).
3. His motives. The leaders of an army must not be weaklings. Those who have stern work to do must themselves be stern. Luther, not Erasmus, must head the Reformation movement. Hence God disciplines his most trusted servants by very severe methods. Even our Lord, "He learned obedience by the things that he suffered;" "He was made perfect through sufferings."
4. His success. That which he purposes is ever done. Baruch here, as Mark afterwards, was reheartened and did good service again.
II. CONCERNING THE PROPHETIC WORK. Demands self-denial, involves much suffering, and has much sorrow in it. No wonder that in ancient days men shrank from the pastoral office. "Nolo episcopari" meant something then. Are any thinking of it? Count the cost. Are any in it? Let them, as they need, seek daily strength from God.
"Chief Shepherd of thy chosen sheep,
From sin and death set free,
May every under shepherd keep
His eye intent on thee." Let those not so charged of the Lord pray for those that are.
III. CONCERNING YOUNG SOLDIERS OF JESUS CHRIST.
1. There is much that is delightful in them. Their ardour, their zeal, their affection. Elisha to Elijah, Timotheus to Paul, so here Baruch to Jeremiah.
2. But they are apt to be discouraged and desponding. They need enduring power. Melancthon thought he should soon convert men to the truth. But Luther tolls how the old Adam was soon found to be too hard for the young Melancthon.
3. Let them submit cheerfully to the methods of discipline God has appointed for them, and be on their guard against all self-seeking ambition.
4. And they are to remember that, though their life be given to them, it shall be "as a prey." They wilt have to watch, to toil, to contend, to struggle, even for that.
"The Son of God goes forth to war...
Who follows in his train?" C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,
WEB: The message that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,