Promise to Baruch (vs. 1-5)
1 “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,” - These words; i.e. the revelations which Baruch had
committed (or was committing) to writing. 2 Thus saith the LORD, the
God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch: 3 Thou didst say, Woe is me now!
for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow;” - Baruch felt “sorrow” or
“pain” at the sinfulness of the people; “grief” or “anxiety” was added by
Jeremiah’s announcement of the judgment - “I fainted in my sighing, and
I find no rest.” (Compare Psalm 6:7)
4 “Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, that
which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted
I will pluck up, even this whole land.” (Compare ch. 1:10)
5 “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not:” - All around
is passing through a sore crisis, and canst thou expect a better lot? It is no time
for personal ambition, when the very foundations of the state are crumbling –
“for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life
will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.” This seems
to indicate that Baruch’s time of exile would be a restless one; it would nowhere
be safe for him to take up a settled habitation.
(I would like to note God’s care of His own, in particular, Ebed-melech in
ch. 39:15-18; and concerning Baruch here. Also note Habakkuk 3:15-19.
The Lord will take care of us in the end also! CY – 2011)
The Grief of One Soul, and Its Consolation (vs. 1-5)
This chapter is devoted to one man. Among the large prophecies concerning
whole nations, room is found for a prophecy to a single individual. The Bible
is at once universal and individualistic in character. Its narratives alternate
history with biography. GOD CARES FOR THE WHOLE WORLD
and truth is larges as the universe; yet God does not forget one soul in its
private distress, and truth has special applications to special cases.
Ø The first sorrow. Probably this arose from a consideration of the
wretched condition of the nation in its vice and decay. It is right
and natural that good men should feel deep concern at the state
of their country. (The only way I can describe the decline of
the United States is: “I mourn” - CY – 2011) The Christian
should have the spirit of Him who “when He beheld the city,
wept over it” (Luke 19:41). Moreover, if we see much of the
wickedness of the world, we should not be satisfied with
steadily condemning it, nor with congratulating ourselves on
our own superior goodness. The sight should fill us with sorrow.
They who go thus astray are our own brethren. And is
not there much of the same sin in all of us? Often the wickedness
which shocks us in others is only the full development of the very
sin that lurks in our own hearts. (ch.17:9)
Ø The added grief.
o This came from the prophecy. Baruch was commissioned
to write and read. His privileged position, so near to the
fountain of inspiration, only deepened his distress. High
spiritual privilege may bring only sadness in this world’s
experience. Increase of knowledge may be increase of
sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:18) - Revelation is sometimes a
cause of distress. In the present case the prophecy was a
declaration of the approaching doom of Jerusalem. We
should contemplate the punishment of the impenitent
with profound grief. Revengeful, triumphant, or self-
complacent feelings in regard to this terrible subject are
o Baruch had personal grounds for his distress. In the
approaching overthrow of his nation all his cherished
hopes of personal ambition were shattered. The most
sanguine too often suffer the bitterest disappointments.
o Jeremiah’s grief would add to that of Baruch. Sorrow
is contagious. He who is much with “the Man of sorrows”
will be likely to feel strange grief in contemplating the evil
of the world. Baruch could find no rest in his grief. The
greatest weariness is not the result of hard work; it comes
from distress of heart. It is trouble, not work, that breaks
down the strong life to premature old age. The blessedness
of the heavenly rest is that it is rest from sorrow as well as
speaks to individual souls, The preacher must be preached to. Has not he
who would save others a soul of his own to be saved. How sad that any
preacher should declare the Divine message to the people, but hear no
voice speaking peace to his own troubled soul! If he were as faithful as
Baruch, he might expect, like Baruch, to receive a Divine consolation.
Note the characteristics of this consolation. It did not deny the cause of
grief. Much comfort is unreal and false in trying to do this. The
consolation for Baruch consisted chiefly in furnishing him with advice
regarding his views of God’s action and his own aims in life.
Ø A lesson of acquiescence in the Divine will. God is acting within
His rights. It is vain to rebel. Peace is found in submission.
Ø A rebuke to ambition. Self-seeking brings distress. As we live out
of self we gain Divine peace.
Ø A promise of safety. After the lessons intended to lead Baruch into
A right mood, God promises him his life — only this, but this is
much for a humble man who knows he does not deserve it, and
a good man who will devote it to God’s service.
Self-seeking (v. 5)
Self-seeking is treated in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, as both
wrong and not really profitable to the self-seeker, although it seems be prompted
by natural instincts and supported by good reasons. Let us consider the grounds
of these representations.
altruism; we are only commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Natural self-regarding instincts created by God can surely be innocently
exercised. It cannot be necessary for all efforts of men to rise in social
position only to be condemned. What, then is the self-seeking which is
Ø That which offends against justice by seeking selfish gain at the
expense of others. What frightful injustice ambition must answer
for, in liberty destroyed, lives sacrificed, confusion and misery
Ø That which offends against charity by disregarding the good of
others. In the spirit of Cain it cries, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
(Genesis 4:9) - So long as it attains its own ends, it will not lift a
finger to move another man’s burden. But Christ teaches us that
it is not enough that we do not injure others, we must also actively
help them; it is not enough that we do not steal, we must go
further and “give to him that asketh.” (Matthew 5:42)
Ø That which offends against duty by sacrificing the vocation of
life to private gain. We are not free to live to ourselves, because
we are not our own masters. We are called to God’s service.
Our duty is to serve God, not self, so that whatsoever we do
may be done “unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:7) - Self-seeking
is rebellion against our Lord and Master. In times of public
distress self-seeking is peculiarly odious. Such were the times
in which Baruch lived. Then there are loud calls of duty and
noble tasks to be done. The general grief makes the thought of
one’s own pleasure and profit out of place. To use that distress
as a ladder by which to rise to greatness is indeed despicable.
and for a time it may be, but not really and ultimately. Even in the lower
human relations, how often do the seeds of ambition bring a harvest of
anxiety! The self-seeker reaches the climax of his endeavors, his most
brilliant dream is realized, he is a king — and he wears a hidden coat of
mail, hides himself in a fortress-castle, has not the liberty of his meanest
subject, is driven near to madness by the fear of assassination.
“He who ascends to mountain tops shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapped in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind
Must look down on the hate of those below.”
When extreme greatness and extreme disappointment are neither realized,
lesser self-seeking brings its corresponding trouble. It narrows the heart and
destroys the purest and best delights — the joys of human sympathy. Christ
shows to us deeper grounds for regarding it as a vain pursuit. “The
first shall be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:31) - The reason He gives is that
“Whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his
life for my sake shall save it.” (Luke 9:24) - Only in proportion as we live out
of self can we enjoy a life worth living; only then, indeed, do we truly live at all.
By trying to make ourselves great, though we may reach a high external
position, we fall to a low internal condition — we become mean and small;
while in forgetting self and sacrificing self for God and for mankind we
become unconsciously great.
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