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the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 45

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-3

The Complaint of Baruch

Jeremiah receives a message from the LORD intended for “Baruch the son of Neriah” (Jeremiah 45:1-Exodus :). It is an appendix to Jeremiah 36, to which this chapter follows chronologically. The message Jeremiah receives came to him during the time Baruch was writing the words from his mouth on a scroll (Jeremiah 36:4). That is about twenty years earlier than the time of Jeremiah 44. Baruch, shortly after writing the scroll, also read it out twice, first to the people and then to the officials (Jeremiah 36:10; Jeremiah 36:14-Ezra :).

We are back “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim” for a moment. The name of Jehoiakim recalls how, during the reading of the scroll, he again and again shamelessly cut off the piece being read and threw it into the fire (Jeremiah 36:21-Isaiah :). The name of “Josiah” is also mentioned, the name that recalls the reforms made by this God-fearing king, but made undone by his wicked son Jehoiakim.

Although the message came twenty years earlier, Baruch places it at the very end of the book, that is, when everything is in ruins. The LORD knows what Baruch is saying as he writes. He pronounces the “woe is me” on himself because of the poor treatment he is subjected to (Jeremiah 45:3).

He owes this poor treatment to the fact that he is Jeremiah’s secretary and ally. He shares in what the people do to Jeremiah. He blames the LORD for this, because He has done this to him and added even more sorrow to his pain (cf. Ruth 1:20-Ecclesiastes :). He is completely worn out and wants to stop. There is no rest to be found for him anywhere.

This feeling can also overwhelm us when we cannot surrender a matter to the Lord. When we bow under His yoke, we find rest for our souls in the midst of all the turmoil around us (Matthew 11:29). There are a few ways we can lose our peace. It happens
1. when we seek in ourselves what can only be found in Christ;
2. when we seek in creation what can only be found in the Creator;
3. when we seek on earth what can only be found in heaven.

Verses 4-5

The Answer of the LORD

These verses show that the LORD’s sufferings and sorrows for His people are far greater than those of any man can ever be. He must deal with “the whole land”, which is His land, in such a way that nothing remains of it (Jeremiah 45:4). He Himself built it and Himself planted it. Now He is forced by the unfaithfulness of the people to tear it down and uproot it Himself.

That is why Jeremiah must tell Baruch that his hope rests on nothing (Jeremiah 45:5). If the LORD deals with His land in this way, should a person harbor ambitions with regard to that land and seek “great things” for himself? Putting your hope in something the LORD will bring judgment on can only lead to disappointment. It seems that Baruch is disappointed because he is not receiving the appreciation for his service that he expected.

Surely he has devoted himself to the LORD and faithfully done what he has been told to do, hasn’t he? Instead of recognition, he receives contempt. That is the thanks he gets. He thought he could hold a prominent position in the people of God. But the people do not listen and are taken away and he receives heavy reproaches.

We see here the disappointment resulting from wrong expectations. We also hear this from the mouths of the disciples. They want to know nothing of a rejection of the Lord Whom they follow. They want to go with Him to Jerusalem, to the throne, but not outside Jerusalem, to the cross. We hear the same thing from the mouth of the disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-Ecclesiastes :). We also experience this when we want to accept the blessings but not the disciplinary ones from the hand of the Lord.

The LORD knows the thoughts that Baruch is harboring. That is why He sends him through Jeremiah this message. It fits the thoughts that Baruch cherishes. The message implies that to seek great things for yourself in a field that is given up to judgment is foolish.

This also applies to us. We should not seek great things in the world, for judgment is coming on the world. Therefore, the warning also applies to us: do not seek those great things. God brings His calamity upon people who go their way willingly, upon people who live without regard to Him. They think they can make the world a place for themselves. The purpose of our lives is to be pleasing to Christ.

As a reward for his service, Baruch receives the promise from the LORD that He will save him wherever he goes. A greater reward cannot be imagined. Thus the Lord Jesus says to us that He will be with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). There is nothing greater for us than the promise of His presence in our lives.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 45". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-45.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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