Sunday, March 05, 2023

“What Jeremiah the Prophet Told Baruch” [Matt's Messages]

“What Jeremiah the Prophet Told Baruch”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 5, 2023 :: Jeremiah 45:1-5

I like to call him “Mr. Blessing.”

This chapter of Jeremiah is not about Jeremiah. Jeremiah is in it. He’s the prophet. He prophesies. But the prophesy of Jeremiah 45 is not for Jeremiah and only obliquely about Judah.

The prophecy of Jeremiah 45 is a personal prophesy given to Mr. Blessing, Baruch son of Neriah. His name, "Baruch," means “blessing.” This is not the first time we’ve met him in this book, but it will be the last.

Baruch son of Neriah was Jeremiah’s executive secretary. His administrative assistant. He’s the one who registered the deed for that field that Jeremiah bought from his crazy cousin Hanamel. He’s been Jeremiah’s right hand man for many years. He shows up at least 4 times in the book. 

The most famous thing Baruch ever did was write down the words of Jeremiah on the scroll. Remember the scroll? Chapter 36? We studied it together one month ago today. Jeremiah dictated 23 years worth of prophecies for Baruch to write down on a scroll and then read it from a balcony above the New Gate in the temple to all the people. That was Mr. Blessing.

You know what’s fascinating? Baruch might be the only person in the Bible whom we have their fingerprint. Some archeologists (not all of them) believe that we might have the actual fingerprints of Baruch son of Neriah from some clay document markers potentially dated to this time period in the kingdom of Judah. They actually have his name on them and somebody’s hardened fingerprint in the clay! Maybe Mr. Blessing’s!

If you are a Snack and Yack kid, you might want to draw a picture of a fingerprint down in the righthand corner. Or just a picture of Mr. Blessing himself. What do you think Mr. Blessing might have looked like?

One thing we know about him was that at one time he was very very sad.

Baruch was very sad. And when he was so sad, the LORD sent Baruch a message through the Prophet Jeremiah. And that became our chapter 45.

It feels a little out of place. It’s yet another flashback. It doesn’t flow historically out of chapter 44. It is not chronological. And chapter 46 starts something altogether different once again. 45 just sits here, a little five verse chapter stuck in a funny place.

But there are probably a number of reasons why this is the place it’s placed in our Bibles.

For one, Baruch was just mentioned last week in chapter 43. The people of Judah who wanted to go to Egypt blamed Baruch for inciting Jeremiah to lie and to say that they should not go down to Egypt so that Babylon could grab them. This chapter reminds us that Mr. Blessing wasn’t like that at all. He was no conspirator. He was faithful. He was truthful. The LORD speaks to him words of grace and encouragement.

And this chapter also gets us set up for chapters 46 through 51 because it talks about what God is going to do throughout the land and on all people (vv.4-5). And the next 6 chapters are about all people, about the nations, and what God is going to do with the nations.

And it also pulls a Paul Harvey and tells “the rest of the story” of Baruch son of Neriah. By the end of chapter 44 we knew about what happened to all 5 of the kings, and to Gedaliah, to Jeremiah, and to his African friend Ebed-Melech. Tying up the loose ends. This chapter gives us a final word on Mr. Blessing who was Jeremiah’s faithful scribe.

Those are some of the possible reasons why chapter 45 is right here in our Bibles.

What’s really important is to understand what it says.

And what it says is, “What Jeremiah the Prophet Told Baruch.” That’s our sermon title for today, and it comes from verse 1. Look at it with me, if you will. Chapter 45, verse 1.

“This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating:”

Do you see when this was? This is from the big event in chapter 36! This is 605BC. Still almost 20 years before the Fall of Jerusalem that we’ve been reading about the last couple of weeks in the Book of Failures. This is a flashback to the reign of wicked King Jehoiakim. And it’s from the very time when Baruch had scribbled the words of Jeremiah on the scroll.

Do you remember what happened to that scroll? Jehoiakim happened to that scroll! He made his assistant Jehudi read every single word of it, and then cut it up roll by roll and burnt the scroll in the fire. It was wintertime, and King Jehoiakim warmed himself by burning Baruch’s handwritten copy of the Prophecy of Jeremiah in his fireplace.

And where was Baruch at that moment? He was in hiding. They didn’t want the king to know where Baruch was or he might have been cut and burnt up, too. I think that’s one of the reasons why Baruch was so sad. You would be too. 

Anybody ever have something you’ve made lost or destroyed? I’ve written whole sermons or papers and pressed “delete” at the wrong time! It would be even worse if someone stole my message and burnt it up.

This was a scroll with 23 years worth of prophecies inscribed on it. The only copy in existence. Handwritten. Up in smoke. Deliberately.

But I think there may have been an even deeper reason why Mr. Blessing was so sad. I think it was sad just to think about what was written on that scroll! His boss, Jeremiah, was a broken record about a broken covenant and the broken nation and burnt city that was going to come of it.

And that’s what Baruch had to write down. Sentence after sentence. Twenty-three years worth of, “Repent! Why won’t you repent? If you keep doing what you’re doing, then judgment will fall. Exile is on the way. You are breaking the covenant and worshiping other gods. Repent! You are not going to repent. Jerusalem will be destroyed.” Twenty three years of that.

For the last 10 months, we have been reading those words once a week. Imagine having them to write them out longhand as they were coming from the mouth of Jeremiah. And think about them. And see them lived right before your eyes.

And nobody listens to them! Year and after year, the same message, and the same lack of repentance, and the same judgment coming on the way.

Of course Baruch is sad. It’s really hard to be a faithful prophet in a day of decline. We’ve seen that, right? Well, what must it have been like to be the assistant of a faithful prophet in a day like this? It had to hurt, too. It had to wear you out. 

Think about all of the times that Baruch was there with Jeremiah in his suffering.

Sometimes his boss was in the prison by himself. Down in the cistern stuck in the mud. Other times, Baruch was with him in prison taking notes. Sometimes they had to go on the run together and hide out from the wicked king. Later on, they were both taken hostage and drug off to Egypt against their wills. And blamed for all the trouble of it!

And nobody read their book. And when they did read it, they burned it. No wonder he was sad. Jeremiah was sad, and so was Mr. Blessing.

And, apparently, Baruch expressed that deep sadness either to Jeremiah or to the LORD or maybe both...and the LORD answered him. Trough Jeremiah.

All week, I’ve been saying that this sermon is “what Jerry told Barry.”

What Jeremiah told Baruch. What do think the LORD may have to say to Baruch? Well, it might surprise you. I’ve got three brief statements to summarize it, and they all apply to us today, too. Here’s number one.


Look with me at verse 2.

“‘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.'’”

Can you feel how he feels? That’s a lot of pain in one verse. Look at all the pain words. “Woe...sorrow...pain...worn rest." That’s heavy! Baruch was miserable. He did not feel like Mr. Blessing. The NET Bible translates “Woe to me!” as “I feel so hopeless.”

“This being an assistant to a prophet is hard work. There’s a real cost here. I hate Jeremiah’s message that I have write down. It’s so heavy. And they never listen. And they burn it. I’m so tired of it.”

And just think–this is still almost 20 years from when Jerusalem actually fell! If he felt this way in 605BC, how did he feel by 586?

He even puts the blame on God. “You said, 'Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.'’” He’s not necessarily saying that the Sovereign God is bad, just that the Sovereign God has allowed a boatload of pain to sail into his life. And He has.

But the LORD knows about his pain. He has heard him. You see that from verse 3. We wouldn’t know that Baruch was hurting if the LORD didn’t tell us. 

He knows all about it. And He knows what it feels like Himself. Look at verse 4.

“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.” What’s that mean? How is that an answer to Baruch’s lament? Yahweh is saying, “Yes, you do have pain. It does hurt. There is a terrible thing going to happen. In fact, I feel it (so to speak) even more deeply than you do.”

Notice what he says, “I will overthrow what I have built and uproot (there is our series title once again, ‘I will uproot’) what I have planted.”

What’s He talking about?

He’s talking about His beloved people.
He’s talking about His beloved Judah.
He’s talking about His beloved Jerusalem.

He has built it up. He has planted it. And now, in His perfect holiness, He has to destroy it! Yahweh has to tear it down and pull it up by the roots.

Now on an ultimate level God is impassible and can’t be hurt. He is completely blessed, full of eternal happiness that nothing can shake. We had a whole wonderful lecture on that glorious truth at the EFCA Theology Conference last month. But God allows Himself to be pictured as injured by the sin of His people. And He allows Himself to be truly described as grieving over the destruction of His beloved city. He knows pain.

And when He came as a man, then He experienced pain in a whole other way. Jesus Christ experienced all of the same kinds of suffering as Baruch did. Everyone who wants to be faithful to the Lord will experience suffering. Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cruel instrument of torture and death. He knows pain.

Do you need to hear that this morning? Maybe you are experiencing suffering right now because you are faithfully following Christ. It seems like nothing goes right for you. Here you are trying to do what is right, and nothing goes right for you. So many are against you. It can be really hard to be faithful. Are you tired?

That’s one of the reasons why we’re studying the book of Jeremiah–to see how following the Lord often comes with high price tag. He’s not called the Weeping Prophet for nothing. And here we have his weeping prophetic assistant. And Jesus wept over Jerusalem, too. He was “hurt” by their rejection. And if they rejected Him, how do we think we are going to escape?

Jesus said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (Jn. 15:20 NIVO).

He knows pain. And He knows best.


Snack and Yack kids, you might want to put these sentences on one of those three lines on the hand out: The first was, “THE LORD KNOWS YOUR PAIN.” The second is “THE LORD KNOWS BEST.”

The Lord wants us to accept His good plan. Look at verse 5.

“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.'’

Now, it sounds like the LORD is gently rebuking Baruch. And that is highly likely. Baruch probably had some aspirations and ambitions that were going to need to be dashed. His grandfather Maaseiah was the mayor of Jerusalem when Josiah was king. His brother Seraiah was a staff officer for King Zedekiah. Baruch came from a notable family of leaders. 

Baruch probably expected to be a leader himself one day. Maybe he’d be the next prophet? Maybe kings would turn to him for a word of counsel and word from God? But here he’s 23 years into his career, and nobody listens to him. He read his book to the people and no revival came. And that’s maybe part of why he’s sad. 

And the LORD says, “It’s okay. You don’t have to be a Somebody. You don’t have to be an influencer. You don’t have to be a celebrity. You don’t have to be a boss. You don’t have to be a big shot.”

The LORD says, “All of that is up to me. Don’t seek great things FOR YOURSELF. Your life is not about you. Seek them not.”

What did our Lord Jesus say? “[S]eek first his kingdom and his righteousnes...” (Matt. 6:33 NIVO). Not your kingdom or my kingdom.

One of the things I love about my upcoming sabbatical is how it reminds me that this church is not my church. And it’s not even your church. It’s God’s church. Somebody asked me this week at Stay Sharp how I will keep from worrying about my church while I’m away from y church. And I’m sure I won’t do it perfectly, but I will be saying to myself. “It’s not my church. We are not here seek Pastor Matt’s kingdom. We are seeking the Lord’s kingdom and the Lord’s righteousness.” It’s a great check to our ambitions. “Should you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.”

However, this sentence could mean something else, too. The Hebrew could be translated something like, “Should you BY YOURSELF seek great things?” In other words, “Should you pray, Baruch, that all of these things I’ve said I would do to Judah would not come to pass? Should you pray that I would be even more patient with Judah’s sins and rescue them from Babylon one more time?

Those could be great things. Should you seek them? No. “Seek them not.” “For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD.” He’s saying don’t bother praying for more patience. If they will not repent, I will pour out the boiling pot and bring my scalding justice on Judah. And not just on Judah but on all rebellious people.  On the nations! That’s what we’re going to see, Lord-willing, next Sunday. He has judgment waiting for His own people and all who stand in rebellion against Him.

God knows best. His plans are perfect, even the ones that hard to accept. Disaster is on the way for Jerusalem. There’s no good news to share. Not in the short run. In the long run, there’s all king of good things we learned are coming the Book of Hope (chapter 29-33).

The plans the LORD has for His people. Plans for shalom. Plans for a future.
The great reversal one day of all of these judgments.
The New Covenant that will be ratified with Jesus’ blood.

In the long run, there’s lots of good news. But in the short run of Baruch’s life, there’s only disaster. And that’s...right. The Lord knows best. You and I can accept whatever comes from the LORD’s hands, even the hardest stuff, because we know that He is all wise, all good, and perfectly just.

The Lord knows best. Do you believe that? The Lord knows best. And the LORD promises to bless.


In the last few words, Jeremiah told Baruch that in spite of everything else going wrong around him, the LORD was going to bless Baruch with long life. Look at verse 5 once more.

“...but wherever you go I will let you [Baruch] escape with your life.”

That doesn’t sound like much, but think about all of the death and destruction around him. And Baruch escapes it all. It’s the exact same thing that the LORD promised Ebed-Melek because he trusted in the the Lord and rescued Jeremiah from the muddy cistern. The words are literally, “escape with your life as a prize of war.” You are going through a battle, and what you will win is your own life. Not much else, but that’s something in this situation.

And the LORD kept that promise!

Baruch lived through the time when he was hiding from Jehoiakim.
Baruch lived through the time when his boss was in prison and everybody hated him.
Baruch lived through the time when he was accused of pulling the strings to turn the people over to Babylon.

Baruch lived through the time when he was hostage in Egypt.

“...but wherever you go I will let you [Baruch] escape with your life.”

Some scholars believe that after Jeremiah died, Baruch might have made it back to Jerusalem or even to join the exiles in Babylon. 

Baruch was faithful. He stayed faithful. He kept doing his small part. He kept putting one foot in front of the other. Even through the slog. Even through the fatigue. Even through the pain. Even through the exhaustion.

One commentator I read this week said we all like to sing, “Dare to be a Daniel,” but the real challenge is can we “Bear to be a Baruch?” (Christopher J.H. Wright).

Baruch did. And He was blessed. He got to keep his life. 

And more than that, He was blessed to be used by God for all future generations. Because look at what we’re doing right now! We’re reading the Book of Jeremiah. How do we have this thing in our hands?

Remember chapter 36? After the scroll was burnt, what did God say to do next? “Write it all down again. And this time I’m going to add in some more.” The very reason we have the book of Jeremiah to read today in our Bibles is because of Baruch son of Neriah slogged away through the sorrow, through the pain, through the groaning, and through the exhaustion. He re-wrote the book of Jeremiah and kept it safe in all of his journeys!

Baruch sought first the kingdom, and what did Jesus say would happen when we do that? Don’t seek great things for yourself...” But seek first [the Lord’s] kingdom and [the Lord’s] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33 NIVO). Your life and the gratefulness of all generations of believers who are reading the book of Jeremiah for ourselves today.

I guess there’s good reason we might call him, “Mr. Blessing.”


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15
16. “Insult and Reproach All Day Long” - Jeremiah 20:1-18
17. "Woe to the Shepherds" - Jeremiah 21:1-23:8
18. "I Did Not Send These Prophets" - Jeremiah 23:9-40
19. "“My Eyes Will Watch Over Them For Their Good” - Jeremiah 24:1-25:38
20. "This Man Should Be Sentenced to Death" - Jeremiah 26:1-24
21. “Under the Yoke” - Jeremiah 27:1-28:17
22. “I Know the Plans I Have for You” - Jeremiah 29:1-32
23. "I Will Surely Save You Out of a Distant Land" - Jeremiah 30:1-24
24. “I Have Loved You With An Everlasting Love” - Jeremiah 31:1-26
25. "A New Covenant" - Jeremiah 31:27-40
26. "Buy the Field" - Jeremiah 32:1-44
27. "Great and Unsearchable Things" - Jeremiah 33:1-26
28. "Go To the Recabite Family" - Jeremiah 34:1-35:19
29. "The Scroll" - Jeremiah 36:1-32
30. "Sunk In the Mud" - Jeremiah 37:1-38:28
31. "He Has Done Just As He Said He Would" - Jeremiah 39:1-41:18
32. "Do Not Go to Egypt" - Jeremiah 42:1-44:30