Read Jeremiah 36
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“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)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 90: Baruch. According to the first century, Roman-employed Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, Baruch ben Neriah (which translates to Barcuh, son of Neriah) was a Jewish aristocrat. An aristocrat is a person who is in the upper class of society. Baruch’s brother, Sereiah ben Neriah, was chamberlain (or household manager) of King Zedekiah.
With that said, Baruch is not known for those things; rather, he is known for his role as a scribe and, specifically, as an assistant of Jeremiah’s. He is known for writing down the first and second editions of the prophecies of the great prophet. He was also known to be an unwavering disciple and supporter of Jeremiah’s. In fact, while Jeremiah was in hiding for his life, he commanded Baruch to read his prophecies against King Jehoakim to the people who were assembled in the Temple in Jerusalem. Baruch carried that order out unflinchingly, despite the great difficulty and danger it presented him.
We don’t garner too much about the life of Baruch from the Bible, other than his being a protégé, a scribe, and a close friend of Jeremiah’s. We don’t know how he experienced his call, how he struggled with it, or how he came to accept. All we know is that he did, with little to know information of what happened leading up to his acceptance.
With that said, we can certainly use our imagination and piece the puzzle together from what we have learned of him. Coming from an aristocratic Jewish family we know that Baruch and his family were privileged. They enjoyed high societal status and all of the privileges/benefits that went along with that. Baruch was clearly well-educated, which can be ascertained by his role as as scribe (some one who can read, write, and interpret the Scripture).
Yet, Baruch did something that must not have sat well with at least some in his family. He became a student of a prophet who was speaking out against the aristocracy and nobility of Jerusalem. He joined forces with a prophet who was calling out King Zedekiah, whom his brother was serving as the household manager. How did his role as scribe sit with his brother or his father? Was he an embarrassment to them, did he bring shame to the family name?
While we’ll never be able to know the answer to those questions, we can safely presume that answering the call to prophetic ministry cost Baruch something and that he must have wrestled with it before making the decision. The reality is that, like Baruch, we are all called by God to stand up against societal, governmental, and systemic injustices. We are all called to push back against the status quo.
It is also true that we either ignore the call altogether, or we acknowledge it we find ourselves wrestling with the it. How can we not? To answer God’s call is costly. It can cost us our status, our privilege, our reputations, our friends, our family, and even our lives. Yet, God is calling…ever calling. The challenge for us is to acknowledge our call, to wrestle with it, and to accept it “unflinchingly” just like Baruch did. It is then that we will see God work through us in ways we never knew possible.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
The willingness to wrestle with and accept God’s call leads to the transformtion of self and of community.
Lord, what is it that you are calling me to do. Illumine me, give me clarity, so that I may answer that call. Amen.