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, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For Yahweh has added sorrow to my pain! I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.” ’
“You shall tell him, Yahweh says: ‘Behold, that which I have built, I will break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up; and this in the whole land. Do you seek great things for yourself? Don’t seek them; for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh,’ says Yahweh, ‘but I will let you escape with your life wherever you go.’ ”
This part of Jeremiah feels like reading the appendix of a book. Here, we jump back to and get some detail about an event that happened between Jeremiah and Baruch. Those who chose to add chapter divisions to the Bible, made this passage into its own chapter. It does appear to be naturally separated from the rest of the book. So, what does God want us to learn from it?
It appears that this happened at the time that Jeremiah was commanded by God to write down God’s message. It appears that when the Baruch the scribe who was writing down the message heard what he was supposed to do, he was filled with anxiety. If you go back and look at chapter 36, when these events happened, you can see that God expected Baruch to not only write down the words but to read them to the leadership. Then both he and Jeremiah were forced to run and hide. God was telling Baruch that he was to become unpopular by simply obeying God. Baruch was the messenger that people would want to kill simply for writing down and reading God’s word! It would appear that this didn’t sit very well with Baruch. I think that this would probably be a challenge for many Americans today as well. Baruch was obviously trained for a special occupation. It appears that he could read and write better than his own leaders could. His career was about to be ruined by simply obeying God’s command. To be honest, I think I would have been pretty disappointed myself. What hope did he have left in his career? How was he supposed to retire?
God asked Baruch a question that I have to ask myself. “Do you seek great things for yourself?” Isn’t that what Americans are supposed to do? God says this to Baruch: “Don’t seek them; for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh.” To put this in a different light. Suppose I turned 30 in 1928. The stock market was about to crash and the great depression was about to happen followed by a second world war. Let’s say that God decided to tell me all about it in advance. I would feel like my life was about to be ruined in that case too. God is telling us to not place our hope in our lives here in this world. He’s also comforting us by telling us that He can save our lives even through hard times, but we may not get much more than that as the world is being punished for its sin. It can actually be a danger for us to “dream big” in this life. What we need to do is to obey what Jesus said and store up our treasure in Heaven. It may seem like God is telling Baruch to not dream big, but Jesus came and told us the opposite. He said that if we give up good things in this life, we will get 100 times more and experience eternal life. May God help us to see this more clearly so that we can truly experience joy in our lives today and stop worrying about what is happening in our world.