Did you Hear About That Guy Baruk?

Beba SchlottmannOther Writings, Recommendations 1 Comment


You may or may not be familiar with the story of Baruk, who was the prophet Jeremiah’s scribe and friend, so check out Jeremiah chapters 36-39 when you get a chance. It describes the events of a prophecy given to Jeremiah, which he had Baruk write down, but because Jeremiah was in prison at the time he received the message, he asked Baruk to read it to the people on a day when they were doing a corporate fast. This was the prophecy about Israel’s captivity by the hand of Babylon.

So here is a short resume of Baruk’s experience with Jeremiah (from Wikipedia)
Baruch ben Neriah (c. 6th century BC) was the scribe, disciple, secretary, and devoted friend of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. According to Josephus, he was a Jewish aristocrat, a son of Neriah and brother of Seraiah ben Neriah, chamberlain of King Zedekiah of Judah.[1][2]

Baruch wrote down the first and second editions of Jeremiah’s prophecies as they were dictated to him by the prophet.[3] Baruch remained true to the teachings and ideals of the great prophet, although like his master he was at times almost overwhelmed with despondency. While Jeremiah was in hiding to avoid the wrath of King Jehoakim, he commanded Baruch to read his prophecies of warning[4] to the people gathered in the Temple in Jerusalem on a day of fasting. The task was both difficult and dangerous, but Baruch performed it without flinching and it was probably on this occasion that the prophet gave him the personal message.[5]

Both Baruch and Jeremiah witnessed the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem of 587–586 BC. In the middle of the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah purchased estate in Anathoth on which the Babylonian armies had encamped (as a symbol of faith in the eventual restoration of Jerusalem),[6] and, according to Josephus, Baruch continued to reside with him at Mizpah.[7] Reportedly, Baruch had influence on Jeremiah; on his advice Jeremiah urged the Israelites to remain in Judah after the murder of Gedaliah.[8]

He was carried with Jeremiah to Egypt, where, according to a tradition preserved by Jerome,[9] he soon died. Two other traditions state that he later went, or was carried, to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II after the latter’s conquest of Egypt.

Baruch’s prominence, by reason of his intimate association with Jeremiah, led later generations to exalt his reputation still further. To him were attributed the Book of Baruch and two other Jewish books.[10]

The reason I wanted to share that piece of history with you is because everyone at some point becomes a master (boss, leader, president, manager, etc.), but before they get there they must first be a servant. Baruk served Jeremiah as his scribe for such a time and he did it faithfully. Do you realize what an enormous task it was for Baruk to go and read this prophecy to the people in the town and in front of those who would certainly kill him?  This was not a welcomed message and Baruk put his life on the line to do as he had been commanded to do. That takes dedication but it also takes passionate resolve. Sometimes we do things half-hearted, out of fear, or out of obligation.  Not so with Baruk.  He did this out of duty and love for God and his prophet.  He didn’t do it because he feared for his life, he did it regardless of his life.

This made me think to myself that there are things I am required to do in many areas of my life. I have a boss at work I have to answer to and I must perform his requests faithfully and responsibly. I have leaders in church who I must submit to faithfully and responsibly as well.  You may have husbands, parents/guardians whom you must submit to, and you also have leaders and teacher’s you are to answer to and submit to responsibly. I began to wonder about how we carry out our responsibilities to the authorities God places in our lives…

I felt convicted because I often do things I know I must do, but I do them half heartedly and with little regard of the one who requested it of me, no matter who he/she might be. If I do what I have been asked to do, but complain, gossip or cut corners, am I really being a faithful servant?

I thought it was interesting that in this story, when the king found out about Baruk’s writings and reading of the message Jeremiah gave him, he sent for his guards to find them and do away with them. Yet, the scriptures say that they were not successful because the Lord had hidden them.

There’s something to be learned from this story about passionate obedience and submission: when we are faithful with our responsibilities as they are given to us by those in authority;  in times of adversity, God will hide us and keep us safe and like Baruk, our names will be remembered and exalted for generations to come.

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