"Baruch, this is what the Lord says: 'I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don't do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!"
- Jeremiah 45:4-5 NLT
Chapter 45 of the book of Jeremiah is only five verses long, but it contains a powerful message for those who have ever served God with little recognition or reward. Baruch was a scribe who was called by God to record the messages that the prophet Jeremiah received from the Lord. In order to better understand Baruch's plight, we need to know a little about his background. His grandfather was governor of Jerusalem under King Josiah. And his brother held an important position under King Zedekiah of Judah. It was only natural for Baruch to aspire to hold a position of high esteem himself. Instead, he was given the task of playing second fiddle to Jeremiah, a very unpopular prophet of his time. Jeremiah was called by God to condemn the sins of His people, to prophesy destruction, and to urge Judah to turn from their sins before it was too late. As a result, Jeremiah was scorned, rejected, and persecuted by his own people. Is it any wonder that Baruch didn't want to suffer the same fate? To add to his woes, Baruch was instructed, not only to record Jeremiah's messages of doom, but to announce them out loud in the temple among the people.
We know that Baruch suffered times of utter despair, because the Bible says that after he "had written down everything Jeremiah had dictated to him," the prophet delivered him a personal message from God. "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, 'I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven't I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.'" (Jeremiah 45:2-3 NLT) Instead of God sympathizing with the scribe's plight, He challenges him to stop feeling sorry for himself, and to focus on God's divine purposes instead. "Baruch, this is what the Lord says: 'I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don't do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!'" (Jeremiah 45:4-5 NLT) God was telling Baruch to stop thinking about the personal cost he had suffered in obeying the Lord's call on his life, and to forget about the rewards he thought he deserved. If he did, God would protect him right in the midst of devastating destruction.
This is a powerful lesson for you and me, as servants of the Lord. Just as Baruch lost his joy in his service to God, we can lose our own joy when we focus on the sacrifices we have made in order to obey Him. And the more we have his kind of mindset, the more frustrated and miserable we will become. On the other hand, if we will redirect our focus, and keep our eyes on the Lord and His divine purposes, we will rejoice in the honor and privilege of serving Him. Today, you and I are able to read Jeremiah's messages from God in the pages of the Bible because of Baruch's obedience and faithfulness. What could YOU accomplish for the Kingdom if you commit to serving God with all your heart?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I have taken my eyes off of You and Your call on my life, and have focused on the recognition and rewards I thought I deserved. Teach me how to rejoice in all that You assign me to do, and to truly appreciate Your divine purposes and plans. Thank You for Your precious promise which says that nothing I do for You will ever be wasted or in vain! (1 Corinthians 15:58)
- J. M. Farro