Between the narrative of Jeremiah’s life and the list of prophecies against the nations, we read a small chapter concerning his scribe and close friend, Baruch. Though our attention has been on Jeremiah and what he has endured to bring God’s Word to his people, we discover that Baruch has been with him almost every step of the way, and suffered his own setbacks and frustrations.
To hear what chapter 45 wants to say, we need to review a moment in Baruch’s life. This chapter takes place in the “fourth year of Jehoiakim.” In Baruch’s timeline, this corresponds with the events of Jeremiah 36 where Jeremiah has Baruch transcribe everything he said and take it into the Temple to read it.
Imagine, for a moment, what it means for Baruch to transcribe Jeremiah’s words. First of all, Baruch is from a family of religious and political scribes. This is Baruch’s vocation, and he does it for God. He is not a prophet, politician, or priest that people should notice him as a powerful public figure. He is a scribe and he has decided to dedicate his gift to his God. In some ways, Baruch may be easier for us to relate to than Jeremiah. He is a common man who simply wanted to take what God gave him and use it for God’s purposes.
Secondly, this transcription had to have taken months to finish. Jeremiah could be a long-winded individual at times, and Baruch is tasked with handwriting each and every syllable. If a mistake is made, Baruch needs to start all over. No word-processing, no auto-correction, no short cuts. In every sense of both words, this was a labor of love.
Back in chapter 36, we read that Baruch is initially received well as a group of people sympathetic toward Jeremiah take Baruch and his scroll to the king. There, in his winter lodging before his fire, king Jehoiakim tears each column as it is read and throws it into the fire.
Baruch literally watches as his labor for God goes up in flame.
Baruch expresses himself to God:
“Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.” (vs. 3)
What would you counsel Baruch at a moment like this when he exposes his anger and anguish at the pain in his life? Would you tell him everything will be OK? Would you tell him that God works everything for good? Would you tell him God has a plan for his life? Would you tell him to search for sin in his life?
Here is the gist of God’s answer: “I know.”
This is comforting almost beyond words to me. I have a God who knows the evil in the world, the pain I suffer, and in fact, suffered it right alongside of me. I do not worship a God who is not touched by my anguish and sorrow (Heb. 4:14-16).
The payoff for Baruch is more than he could ever accomplish on his own or hope for as a reward for his labor.
"But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go." (vs. 5)
Baruch’s reward for his faithfulness is that God will go before him everywhere he goes and keep him in every situation. It is more than any of us has a right to ask for.
Express yourself to God. Remain faithful to your Savior. And the Father of all compassion and the God of all mercy will comfort you will the comfort you need.