Lesson 35: Ministry of Jeremiah – Part 2

Reading Preperation:
  • Jeremiah 18; 23; 30-31; 33; 36-45
Lesson Notes:
1. Introduction to Jeremiah: Part II
Before we continue our examination of the writings of Jeremiah, which we began in Part I, let us briefly highlight the events of Jeremiah’s ministry compiled from the previous chapter.
For over forty years, the prophet Jeremiah labored to call Judah to repentance. Time and time again he prophesied regarding Judah’s disobedience to the Lord and the need for them to repent or they would suffer destruction. With the exception of King Josiah, the kings of Judah (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah) rejected the prophecies of Jeremiah, listening either to false counsel (chap.28: Hananiah) or following their own wisdom (chap.36: Jehoiakim; chap.37-38: Zedekiah, and chap.43: Johanna carries Jews to Egypt).
Jeremiah lived during the assaults of the Babylonians upon Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim (609-598 B.C.), had been made king under the Egyptians, replacing his brother Jehoahaz (609 B.C.), who served only three months. Jehoiakim served eleven years, however due to his vacillation between Egypt and Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took captive many children of the nobility. After enduring three years of subjection to Babylon and seeing Nebuchadnezzar busy elsewhere, Jehoaikim decided to throw off the Babylonian yoke. This brought another attack upon Jerusalem, resulting in the death of Jehoiakim. Jehoiachin (598 B.C.), Jehoiakim’s son, became king, but reigned only three months. In 598 B.C., he surrendered to the attacking Babylonians. He and members of his court were then taken captive to Babylon along with many others including Daniel and Ezekiel which became known as the first deportation of Judah to Babylon. According to 2 Kings 24:8-17, only “the poorest sort of people” were left in the land. Nebuchadnezzar then appointed a new king, named Zedekiah.
Zedekiah (598-587 B.C.) made some of the same political mistakes as his predecessors by withholding tribute to Babylon and supporting Egypt. When the Babylonian army approached Jerusalem in 590 B.C. the leaders of the nations began to see the fulfillment of the prophecies of Jeremiah and other prophets, and began to repent. However when the threat from Babylon temporarily disappeared with the approach of the Egyptian army (Jeremiah 37:5), the people returned again to their old ways. The false prophets (chp.28-Hananiah), told the people that they are righteous and that God will destroy the threat of the Babylonians and protect and preserve you. Jeremiah in contrast told the people that they were extremely wicked and that God would soon destroy Jerusalem, kill your family and close friends and force you into captivity in a foreign land. Jeremiah prophesied unto Hananiah that because “thou makest this people to trust in a lie… this year thou shalt die” (Jeremiah 28:15-16).
In January, 589 B.C., the Babylonians returned and laid siege to Jerusalem for eighteen months. In August, 587 B.C., Jerusalem was captured. The Babylonians ransacked the city, and set it afire, including the temple and palace. The walls of the city were destroyed. Most of the Jews were carried off to Babylon, the second deportation of Judah to Babylon, leaving only a remnant of the Jews behind. Jeremiah was initially taken captive, but five miles out of Jerusalem was recognized and given the choice to continue on to Babylon or return to Jerusalem. Jeremiah chose to return to Jerusalem. He lived in the house of Gedeliah (586 B.C.) who had been appointed governor by Nebuchadnezzar. Gedeliah was the son of Ahikam who years earlier had saved Jeremiah’s life when Jehoiakim would have put him to death (Jeremiah 26). Two months later, Gedeliah was assassinated by Ishmael and in a struggle for power, Johanan succeeds. He seeks Jeremiah’s counsel but then does not follow it and now leads the remnant of the Jews to Egypt including Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch. While in Egypt, Jeremiah now an old man prophecies the downfall of Jews and tells them if they do not repent and turn to the Lord, they will be led captive by the Babylonians. In 582 B.C., according to Josephus, Egypt was conquered by the Babylonians and the remaining Jews were lead captive to Babylon.
2. Jeremiah 18: God Can Discard Judah as a Potter’s Vessel
In response to the Lord’s direction, Jeremiah is told “to go down to the potter’s house” (Jeremiah 18:2). While he is observing the work of the potter, he notes the following.
Jeremiah 18:4
4 And the vessel that he [Potter] made of clay was marred [impair soundness] in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Joseph Smith reports,
“On one incidence, Br. Heber C. Kimball interpreted the parable of the potter’s clay as follows: When the potter’s clay became marred, ‘it was cut off the wheel and then thrown back again into the mill, to go into the next batch, and was a vessel of dishonor; but all clay that formed well in the hands of the potter, and was pliable, was a vessel of honor; and thus it was with the human family, and ever will be: all that are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to His commands, are vessels of honor, and God will receive them. President Joseph [Smith] arose and said—’Brother Kimball has given you a true explanation of the parable” (History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-51. Second Edition Revised, 478).
In response to the demonstration that Jeremiah had observed, the Lord now speak to Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 18:6-8 [see JST insert]
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will [JST, withhold] the evil that I thought to do unto them.
In other words, if Judah will repent from their evil and disobedience to the commandments of the Lord, then, unlike the potter, even though He has the power to do so, the Lord will not destroy them. Now the Lord directs Jeremiah to go and give the message of warning to Judah. The response of Judah is to ignore the warning of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 18:12
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
It is tragic to see the level of wickedness to which Judah had resorted. In spite of the offer of the Lord, there is no hope for them due to their entrenched in their wickedness.
Stanley B. Kimball states,
Heber C. Kimball observed “There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been molded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the shape the potter has given them, but straightway put themselves into a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understanding what God designs, and they destroy themselves… [To become a vessel of honor] you have to go through a great many moldings and shapes, then you have to be glazed and burned; and even in the burning, some vessels crack” (Heber C. Kimball. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981, 270; see also 1989 Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 35).
The Lord gives his response to their rejection of his will.
Jeremiah 18:15, 17
15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cat up;
17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy: I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
The response of the people to the message of the Lord given by Jeremiah is to reject him and his teachings and to continue in their paths of wickedness. Therefore, the Lord will turn his back on them and will not hear their petitions to Him during their time of distress.
Jeremiah 18:18
18 Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah… Come and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
The people have confused the messenger with the message. If they can reject the messenger, they feel that they will then not be bound by the message. Due to their rejection again of him, under the law of retribution, Jeremiah petitions the Lord for justice.
Jeremiah 18:23
23 Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.
Monte S. Nyman states,
“His enemies had previously sought his life [see 11:18-21] and had later heaped persecution upon him [see 14:15-18]. Another attempt on his life was being considered [see verse 23], and this is at least the third offense against him. The laws of retaliation, war, and forgiveness, as taught to the ancient, were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith [see D&C 98:23-48]; and under these laws, the Lord’s judgments were to come upon the enemy after his third offense. Jeremiah may have been bringing “these [three] testimonies before the Lord’ as commanded under these laws [D&C 98:44]” (The Words of Jeremiah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988, Second Printing, 63).
The petition brought by Jeremiah will be honored by the Lord. Judah will receive retribution for her acts against the Lord’s prophet.
3. Jeremiah 23: False Prophets Have Misled the People
One of the most serious transgressions a religious leader can commit is to knowingly mislead another individual. This practice is referred to and defined in the Book of Mormon as priestcraft.
B/M, 2 Nephi 26:29
29 He [Lord] commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
There were, during the time of Jeremiah, individuals practicing “priestcraft” who represented themselves as being a spokesman for the Lord, without having the prerequisite authority. It was their actions that led to this rebuke from the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:1-2
1 Woe be unto the pastors [religious leaders] that destroy and scatter the sheep [believers] of my pasture! saith the LORD.
2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, said the LORD.
As a result of the scattering of the Lord’s sheep [those who recognize his voice and wish to follow Him] by the falsehoods of those who presented themselves as the Lord’s true shepherds, the Lord will in the latter days again gather his sheep through the directions of his true shepherds [prophets]. While the sheep will be gathered again, the false leaders will be held responsible for the evil actions.
Jeremiah 23:3-4
3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them [for protection?], and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
4 And I will set up shepherds [authorized servants] over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
This gathering will occur during the latter days when the Lord himself will return to reign over the earth. There will be in place, however prior to that occurrence, servants who are authorized by the Lord to assist in the gathering and to watch over those who are brought into the fold.
Jeremiah 23:5
5 Behold, the days come saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
The Old Testament student manual states,
“The Branch and King are obviously the Lord Jesus Christ who when return to earth to reign as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelations 17:14; see also Revelations 19:16)” (Old Testament student manual 1 Kings–Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 254).
The actions of the false prophets is noted by the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:17, 21, 26
17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imaginations of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.
21 I have not set these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophecy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
The warning Jeremiah gave from the Lord was that judgment and destruction would soon come to the nation as a result of their wickedness. The false prophets spoke in opposition to the words of Jeremiah, and said the words the people wanted to hear. Their message was that the people of Judah shall not be destroyed, but that they “shall have peace;” they also told them that she could continue to pursue the course they were pursuing ie. Wickedness, and yet “no evil shall come upon you.” The action of the false prophets overall had a negative effect upon the people in that they did not heed the warning voice of the Lord’s prophet nor take the necessary steps of repentance.
Jeremiah 23:36, 39
36 And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God.
39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence.
There would be severe consequences for the actions of the false prophets. Because they had “perverted the words of the living God,” they would be forsaken by the Lord. The burden that they would bear is that none of the words they had spoken would come to pass; the city would be destroyed and they would be cast out of the Lord’s presence. The responsibility of the prophet of the Lord is to always speak the word of the Lord to the people however unpopular they may be or not want the people want to hear. If they do not, they themselves will be required to bear the consequences for not fulfilling their sacred responsibility.
4. Jeremiah 30-31: The Restoration of Israel in the Last Days
Jeremiah, through prophetic vision, speaks of the latter-day gathering of Israel in the last days,
Jeremiah 30:3
3 For, low, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD; and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall posses it.
Old Testament student manual states,
“Jeremiah 30:3 has several meanings. (1) it refers to the return of the Jews after seventy years of captivity in Babylon. (2) It also refers to the restoration of the Jews to their homeland in the last days after they have been scattered for the second time from Palestine. And (3) it refers to the return of the lost tribes from the lands of the north” (Old Testament student manual 1 Kings—Malachi. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, Second Edition, 254, numbers added).
Jeremiah 30:9
9 But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
Underlining the fulfillment of Jeremiah 30:3, 9, as a time future, Judah will be gathered and then they will serve “the Lord their God.” It is the author’s opinion that this event will not occur until the latter days.
While Judah will be scattered in response to her iniquity, the Lord will not forsake her and the time will come when her enemies will be punished and she will yet be blessed.
Jeremiah 30:15-17
15 Why criest thou for thine affliction? Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto you.
16 Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shell be a spoil, and all they prey upon thee will I give for a prey.
17 For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they call thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
While Judah will be taken into captivity due to her wickedness, by the Babylonians, and will suffer for her transgressions, she will yet become a nation again. However, due again to her iniquity, in 70 A.D., her city will be destroyed by the Romans, and she will be scattered among all nations. She will then become a hiss and a byword among the nations of the earth. During the latter days, Judah will again be gathered from the nations of the earth to her lands of inheritance. All those who have taken advantage of her weakness and increased her suffering, will then receive retribution at the hand of the Lord. As she recognizes and renews her covenants with the Lord, great blessings will yet come to her. The Lord will not forsake his covenant with Judah if she will repent of her iniquity and enter into a sacred covenant of obedience with the Lord.
Jeremiah 30:22
22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
The blessings that will come in the latter days to Judah and all of Israel will be great. They will be gathered from the nations of the earth. They will again hear the voice of the Lord. They will turn to the Lord and seek to make sacred covenants with Him.
Jeremiah 31:1, 8-10
1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coats [Heb. Ends] of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications, will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, where in they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
We have previously noted that prior to the gathering of scattered Israel in the latter days, the authority had to be restored from the Lord so that this work could commence. Since the restoration of the Lord’s Church in 1830, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, missionaries have gone forth to bring all of Israel to a knowledge of the truth, as well as the Gentiles, so that they could make sacred covenants with the Lord. The birthright blessing was given by his father, Jacob/Israel to Joseph and then upon his sons (see 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). It was Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph, not Manasseh, who then received the birthright blessing (see Jeremiah 31:9).
Joseph Fielding Smith notes,
“… for reasons which we do not understand for the history of those events is very brief, this authority [birthright blessing] came down through the lineage of Joseph’s second son, Ephraim. It was Ephraim who was called to occupy the position held by his father, and he is spoken of in the scriptures as the firstborn in Israel” (Doctrine of Salvation 3. Compiled by Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1973, 162).
In the latter days, which of Israel’s sons will be given the responsibility of gathering modern Israel and of teaching them the restored truths of the gospel?
The LDS Bible dictionary states,
“Ephraim was given the birthright in Israel (1 Chronicles 5:1-2; Jeremiah 31:9), and in the last days it has been the tribe of Ephraim’s privilege first to bear the message of the restoration of the gospel to the world and to gather scattered Israel (Deuteronomy 33:13-17 ; D&C 133:26-34; 64:36)” (Ephraim. LDS Bible Dictionary. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979, 666).
It is Ephraim’s progenitors, as designated by their patriarchal blessings, who were first given the opportunity to hear the message of the restored gospel in the latter days, and then are given the responsibility to gather scattered Israel and teach them the restored truths of the gospel.
Jeremiah 31:31, 33-34
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 … for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, said the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
It is the author’s opinion that “the days come” refers to the time of the fulfillment of the law of Moses. This law had been given to direct Israel to the final sacrifice which would be accomplished in the meridian of time through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Book of Mormon, Heading-Third Nephi, Chapter 9 states,
Following his sacrifice and resurrection, in preparation for them to receive the “new covenant,” the Savior spoke to the righteous inhabitants who were gathered in the Americas following “the destruction of many people and cities for their wickedness—He also proclaims his divinity, announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled and invites men to come unto him and be saved ” (Heading-Third Nephi, Chapter 9. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979, 424).
B/M, 3 Nephi 9:15, 19-20
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost,…
Joseph Smith taught,
“Repent of all yours sins, and be baptized in water for the remission of them, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance of the laying on of hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may receive the Holy Spirit of God; and this is according to the Holy Scriptures, and the Book of Mormon; and the only way that man can enter into the celestial kingdom. These are the requirements of the new covenant” (History of the Church, 1. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-51, 313-314, Italics and underling added).
While some have seen the book of Jeremiah as focused solely on the destruction that will come to Judah in response to her wickedness, these chapters extend to Judah the promise of events to come in the last days that would bring great joy to their righteous progenitors. Judah and Israel will not be forsaken by the Lord and He had made provisions for their eventual gathering and restoration of blessings.
5. Jeremiah 33: Branch, a descendant of David, Will Rule Israel
Jeremiah has been put in prison by order of Zedekiah. It is while he is in prison that the Lord gives him the following assurance regarding the restoration (see Jeremiah 33:1).
Jeremiah 33:7, 14-15
7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at first.
14 Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
Ellis T. Rasmussen states,
“The theme of restoration continues [as previously noted by Jeremiah], promising the gathering of Judah and Israel and their establishment as a unified, righteous kingdom at last with a divine “Branch” [Jesus Christ] descended from David as King to ‘execute judgment and righteousness’ (Jer. 33:7-18). The promise of these actions is as sure as the sequences of day and night and the order of the heavens and earth” (A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993, 565).
Just as these promises given to Jeremiah during a period of his confinements brought comfort and strength to him that his labors with Judah were not in vain, so should they bring comfort to members of the house of Israel that their day of gathering will occur.
6. Jeremiah 36: Baruch reads Jeremiah’s Prophecies
Who is Baruch? We learn from the scriptures that he is “the son of Neriah” and that he “wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD” (Jeremiah 36:4).
Adam Clarke states,
“This man, so useful to the prophet, and so faithfully attached to him, was by office a scribe; which signifies, not only a writer, but also a man in office, a chancellor, secretary, etc., a learned man; one acquainted with law and customs” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Abridged by Ralph Earle. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1967, [Nineteenth Printing, March 1991], 641).
J.A. Thompson notes,
“He [Baruch] was deeply involved in Jeremiah’s affairs. He wrote down his oracles for the first and second scroll in 605/4 B.C. He certainly continued to record the prophet’s sayings thereafter and went with him to Egypt, where he probably continued his work as a scribe… At times he was associated with Jeremiah in dangerous situations (36:19, 26, 43:3). Much of the present book of Jeremiah must go back either directly or indirectly to him” (The Book of Jeremiah. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Edited by R. K. Harrison. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980, 683).
We ought to Baruch a debt of gratitude for his dedication in serving as Jeremiah’s scribe as well as to each of those individuals who wrote the words of the prophets that we may have a record of their writings.
We learn in Jeremiah, chapter 32, that Zedekiah, king of Judah, had “shut up [Jeremiah] in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house” (Jeremiah 32:2). Jeremiah was confined as the king did not like what Jeremiah was prophesying concerning Judah being conquered (see Jeremiah 32:3-6). This direction comes to Jeremiah, according to Adam Clarke, during “the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, 640). It is appears that Jeremiah is again under confinement when the Lord appears to him and gives him a message that is to be written by Baruch.
Jeremiah 36:2-3
2 Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoke unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.
3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
Having recorded the message from the Lord, Baruch is now to deliver this message in the Lord’s house.
Jeremiah 36: 6
6 … in the ears of people in the LORD’s house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.
One of the king’s princes, Michaiah, heard the words that Baruch read and asked that he come and read them to the princes who were gathered together. The response of the princes was alarm.
Jeremiah 36:16
16 Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.
The necessity of having to share the words of the Lord with the king was not overshadowed by their concern not only for the well-being of Jeremiah but also for Baruch gave to him this warning.
Jeremiah 36:19
19 Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.
The response of the king when he heard the words of the Lord as read by Jehudi was immediate.
Jeremiah 36:23-24
23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he [the king] cut it with a pen knife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
24 Yet they were not afraid, nor ret their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
Three of the princes present petitioned the king “not [to] burn the roll; but he would not hear them” (Jeremiah 36:25). The roll had been disposed of without any fanfare and now the king would also dispense with its messengers. Three of the princes are given the following edict by the king.
Jeremiah 36:26
26 … the king commanded… .to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet; but the LORD hid them.
Without intervention by the Lord, it is certain that both Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch would have been put to death by order of the king. Having preserved their lives, the Lord again speaks to Jeremiah and his scribe and this is the message He given them.
Jeremiah 36:28-31
28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall curse to cease from thence man and beast?
30 Therefore thus said the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.
Thus we see that while man might destroy, that God can reveal anew his words to his prophet so that His words of warning will be preserved, even to the last days as a witness of God’s efforts to bring his children to repentance.
Baruch’s devotion and willingness to serve as Jeremiah’s scribe did not preclude him from putting his life in danger. Like Jeremiah, he was also on an errand from the Lord, which meant both writing and at times delivering the message to wicked Judah. His devotion to the cause did not waver and he went forth to do all that Jeremiah asked him to accomplish, trusting in the Lord for direction and protection.
There may be times when each of us may have our faith and devotion to the cause tested. Unlike the Lord, our vision is finite and often we do not see how our daily decisions and actions directly affect our future. Moroni, the son of Mormon, the abridger of the records of the Book of Mormon taught this important truth.
B/M, Ether 12:6 [underline added]
6 And now, I Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Baruch had had his faith tested and he continued to trust in Jeremiah as the prophet of the Lord.
7. Jeremiah 37-38: Prophecies during Zedekiah’s Reign
Serving as the Lord’s messenger, Jeremiah gave the following prophecy regard the destruction of Jerusalem and the conditions that would exist.
Jeremiah 19:7, 9
7 And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives; and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowl of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten [distress, or afflict] them.
When Pashur, the chief governor, heard of Jeremiah’s prophecies, he has him put into stocks overnight which held his body in distorted configurations. However, Jeremiah cannot be silenced.
Jeremiah 20:4-6
4 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword.
5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I given into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
A true prophet of the Lord often prophecies those things which are often disturbing to those to whom his message is directed. Often, the response of the listener, is to try and silence the messenger. This may be accomplished by ridicule, threats, and persecution including beatings and confinement or at times death. Jeremiah will experience most of their trails during his lifetime, however he will not be silenced. There are times however when even a prophet may lament his calling the rejection and physical abuse that often accompanies his calling. Jeremiah states his case to the Lord.
Jeremiah 20:7-9
7 … I am in derision [despain, suffering] daily, every one mocketh me.
8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.
9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him [the message of the Lord], nor speak any more his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
Following the visitation of God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ to the boy, Joseph Smith, he too was subjected to persecution and ridicule. He reflected upon this experience wrote the following.
P/GP, Joseph Smith-History 1:24
24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, other said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both see a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
Jeremiah could not turn away from the word of Lord nor deny its validity in spite of the ridicule, persecution and suffering he experienced as the Lord’s servant. As he stated, “his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9)
Having heard from his chief governor, Zedekiah seeks information from Jeremiah regarding how to deal with the Babylonians. Jeremiah tells him that the city will be destroyed and that he will be taken captive by Nebuchadrezzar (see Jeremiah 21:7). Jeremiah gives the answer of the Lord to king Zedekiah.
Jeremiah 22:3
3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
The Lord’s directive to king Zedekiah is that the only way to save their lives at this juncture was for Judah to surrender to the Chaldeans (Babylonians) and not try to resist, Zedekiah rejects Jeremiah’s counsel.
Jeremiah 37:5
5 Then Pharaoh’s army was come forth out of Egypt: and when the Chaldeans [Babylon] that had besieged Jerusalem heard tidings of them, they departed Jerusalem.
Zedekiah sends his servants to Jeremiah seeking direction from the Lord in view of the departure of the Babylonians from their siege of the city. They want to hear that all will be well with the city.
Jeremiah 37:7-9
7 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah [Zedekiah], that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.
8 And the Chaldeans shall come again, and fight against this city, and take it, and burn it with fire.
9 Thus saith the LORD; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart.
Jeremiah desires to leave the city, however he is detained at the city gate and accused of “falliest [deserting] away to the Chaldeans” (Jeremiah 37:13). He is brought to the princes.
Jeremiah 37:15
15 Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote [flogged] him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.
After “many days,” Zedekiah sends from Jeremiah and asks him regarding the word of the Lord. Jeremiah replies.
Jeremiah 37:17, 19
17 Then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the LORD? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
19 Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come again you, nor against this land?
Jeremiah pleads with the king “not to [be] returned to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there” (Jeremiah 37:20).
King Zedekiah orders Jeremiah’s release “into the court of the prison” and that he should be given “daily a piece of bread… until the bread in the city is spent” (Jeremiah 37:21).
The princes are incensed when they learn of Jeremiah’s latest prophecy.
Jeremiah 38:2
2 Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.
The princes reason that Jeremiah is a traitor to Judah! His words would undermine that morale of the soldiers and leave the city completely venerable to the enemy. He is not a patriot for the freedom of Jerusalem, but a traitor and worthy of death.
How ironic it is that the one person who speaks the truth on behalf of the Lord is viewed as a traitor! The leaders of Judah have disregarded his message; continued in their wickedness; and turned to the arm of flesh as found in the Egyptians or military might to provide them with protection from their enemy. When they ignored the warning and direction of the Lord’s servant and had turned from the Lord, they were doomed to destruction.
The desire of the princes prevails and king Zedekiah does not intervene and so the sentence of death is passed upon Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 38:6
6 Then took they Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
W. Cleon Skousen states,
“There they left him with neither food nor water to die” (The Fourth Thousand Years. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, Sixth Printing, 705).
The name, Ebed-melech, a Ethiopian eunuch who was a servant in the king’s house, may not be known to many. To Jeremiah, he was an angel sent by the Lord. It was his intervention that no doubt preserve Jeremiahs’ life. Not only does he petition the king on Jeremiah’s behalf, but he also assists with his recovery.
Jeremiah 38:8-9
8 Ebed-melech went forth out of the king’s house, and spake to the king, saying,
9 My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the placed where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.
King Zedekiah honors Ebed-melech’s request, and orders him to take thirty men and drew Jeremiah up from his grave of mire.
Jeremiah 38:13
13 So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Zedekiah now sends for Jeremiah and makes another request of Jeremiah. Jeremiah must have been confused by the king’s actions. One moment he is condemned to a watery grave and then on the king’s order is removed. Condemned initially as a traitor and then rescued, the king seeks his advice!
Jeremiah 38:15
15 Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surly put me to death? And if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?
With the assurance that the king will protect his life, he gives Zedekiah the final word of the Lord regarding the saving of his own life and family, his people and city.
Jeremiah 38:17-18
17 Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house.
18 But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.
Zedekiah offers many excuses to refute Jeremiah’s words to him, despite Jeremiah’s promises, and then has him swear in secrecy not to inform his princes of his words. Once again, Zedekiah does not follow the counsel he receives from a prophet of the Lord. What happened to Jeremiah?
Jeremiah 38:28
28 So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.
8. Jeremiah 39: Jerusalem is taken
We learn that the city of Jerusalem is now destroyed by the Babylonians and her citizens are taken captive to Babylon.
Jeremiah 39:8
8 And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.
As the Lord had promised (see Jeremiah 15:11), Jeremiah’s life is spared as well as the life of Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe. The Babylonians commit him “unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home; so he dwelt among the people” (Jeremiah 39:14). Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe’s life is also preserved.
There is one other individual noted in Chapter 39, whose life is preserved by the Lord.
Jeremiah 39:15-18
15 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah,…
16 Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.
17 But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.
18 For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but they life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.
The act of kindness extended by Ebed-melech to the Lord’s servant, and his continued trust in Jeremiah as the Lord’s prophet, secured for him the divine preservation of his life. As was true for Ebed-melech, we often do not know the effects our simple acts of kindness and compassion can have upon another person. In this instance, a prophet’s life was extended as was also the life of the individual who acted with compassion.
9. Jeremiah 40: Jeremiah is bound then released
In Jeremiah 39:14, it appeared that Jeremiah was freed from prison to return to his people, however we learn in Chapter 40:1, that he had been bound in chains among others who were taken captive. It seems to me that these two scriptures are out of chronological order and that before Jeremiah was given his freedom, he was first bound in chains.
Jeremiah 40:1
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.
The captain of the guard, Nebuzar-adan, is acting under the direction of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, who had given him orders regarding Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 39:11-12
11 Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard, saying,
12 Take him, and look well to him, and do himno harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.
Nebuzar-adan gives his the following options: (1) “to come with me into Babylon,… and I will look after thee; (2) remain in his own land “whither it seemeth good, and convient to go, thither go; and (3) “Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whon the king of Babylon made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people.” (see Jeremiah 40:4-5). Jeremiah’s decision is to return to the home of Gedaliah who has been appointed as governor of Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 40:6).
10. Jeremiah 41-42: Jeremiah’s Dealings with Johanan
Within two months of Gedaliah’s appointment as governor of Jerusalem, he is assassinated by Ishmael. Johanan, a faithful friend of Gedaliah now goes after Ishmael.
Jeremiah 41:12, 15
12 Then they [Johanan] took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.
15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites.
Johanan and his men return to Jerusalem, however as they fear the response of Babylon to the assassination of Gedaliah, they ask Jeremiah to seek the Lord’s direction (see Jeremiah 42:2). Jeremiah, after ten days, pronounces the word of the Lord to Johanan and the people.
Jeremiah 42:10-11
10 If you will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: [JST, “… and I will turn away the evil that I have done unto you”]
11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
The Lord having pronounced to Johanan and those gathered with him that he will bless and watch over them and give them protection from Babylon if they chose to remain in Jerusalem, now gives them a warning.
Jeremiah 42:13, 15-17
13 But if ye said, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God.
15 … If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and to to sojourn there;
16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
17 So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.
11. Jeremiah 43-44: Jeremiah Goes to Egypt
Johanan responds to the word of the Lord received through Jeremiah, his prophet.
Jeremiah 43:2-4
2 Then spake Azariah… and Johanan… and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Eggypt to sojourn there;
3 But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.
4 So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah.
The key word that best defines the response of Johanan and his men is “proud.” They had sought the direction of the Lord through Jeremiah, but when the counsel went contrary to their own understanding, they declared the words of the Lord false, hoping by doing so that they could somehow nullify the consequences that would surely follow their disobedience. How naive we are to believe that when we receive direction from the Lord, our understanding and knowledge is superior to His. Only when we are humble and obedient to the direction of the Lord will we ever find the true happiness and joy we are seeking. None are exempt in the eyes of the Lord, except those who choose to ignore his word in their lives.
Jeremiah 43:5-6
5 … Johanan… and all the captains of the forces took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah;
6 Even men, and women, and children, and the king’s daughters, and every person that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Nariah.
7 So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.
Once in Egypt, Jeremiah sees how the Jews who are living there have followed the idol worship of the Egyptians. Jeremiah having newly arrived in Egypt continues to be the voice of the Lord unto the children of Israel.
Jeremiah 44:12-13
12 And I [Lord] will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.
13 For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence:
I believe that it is reasonable to assume that if as a nation or individuals we choose to reject the counsel and direction we receive from the Lord or through his living prophets, that we, like Israel of Old, will also experience similar punishment.
George Santayan stated,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – (The Life of Reason, Volume 1. Reason in Common Sense. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905, 284).
The response of the people to the words of Jeremiah is significant in that it is indicative of how far removed they had become from the Lord and how entrenched they had become in the idolatry so prevalent in Egypt. The lifestyle of having been a covenant people was no longer as meaningful to them as the lifestyle they had found in Egypt. Like many people today, they sought freedom to do as they wanted, rather than to be constrained by the restrictions they had known. Somehow they were of the opinion that wickedness, as desirable it appeared, could never lead to the lasting happiness found in obeying the commandments and having the spirit of the Lord to be with them.
Jeremiah 44:16-17
16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.
17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven [moon], and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
Jeremiah responds to their lapse in memory of the events that have recently occurred in Judah and again reminds them that the destruction that occurred was in direct result to their wickedness.
Jeremiah 44:21-23
21 The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?
22 So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.
23 Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.
The Lord had been patient with Judah. He had sent his prophets to call them to repentance, admonishing them to turn away from their idolatrous practices, and to follow his commandments. They would not listen to their words and instead continued in their ways of wickedness. As a result, their land was made desolate and their city destroyed. Against the direction of the Lord, through Jeremiah, they have come to Egypt to dwell and to continue their evil practices. They will not prosper nor find peace.
Jeremiah 44:29-30
29 And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil:
30 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
This prophecy made by Jeremiah was, as history relates, fulfilled in its entirety.
Adam Clarke states,
“Pharoah-hophra [Pharaoh Apries]… The subjects of Pharaoh Apries rebelling, he sent Amasis, one of his generals, to reduce them to their duty. But no sooner had Amasis begun to make his speech than they fixed a helmet on his head, and proclaimed him king. Amasis accepted the title, and confirmed the Egyptians in their revolt; and the greater part of the nation declaring for him, Apries was obliged to retire into Upper Egypt; and the country being thus weakened by intestine war, was attacked and easily overcome by Nebuchadnezzar, who on quitting it left Amasis his viceroy. After Nebuchanessar’s departure, Apries marched against Amasis; but, being defeated at Memphis, was taken prisoner, carried to Sais, and was strangled in his own palace, thus verifying this prophecy.”
“Thus Nebuchadnezzar made an easy conquest of the land. He conquered it as easily as ‘a shepherd puts on his cloak; he went thence in peace,’ having clothed himself with its spoils; and left all quiet under a viceroy of his own choosing. The rebellion of Pharaoh’s subjects was the fire that God kindled in Egypt, chap. xliii, 12. And thus was he delivered into the hands of his enemies, his revolted people; and into the hand of him who sought his life, i.e. Amasis, his general. And thus the whole prophecy was literally fulfilled” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Abridged by Ralphe Earle. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1967, [Nineteenth printing, March 1991], 645).
After the Jewish Historian had confirmed the events as noted by Adam Clarke, he adds the following regarding the Jews of Egypt.
Flavius Josephus records,
“… on the fifth year after the destruction (582 B.C.), which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition… he fell upon Egypt, in order to overthrow it; and he slew the king that then reigned, and set up another; and he took those Jews that were there captive, and led them away to Babylon; and such was the end of the nation of the Hebrews, as it hath been delivered down to us, it having twice gone beyond Euphrates; for the people of the ten tribes [northern kingdom–Israel] were carried out of Samaria by the Assyrians in the days of king Hoshea; after which the people of the two tribes [southern kingdom–Judah] that remained after Jerusalem was taken [were carried away] by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and Chaldea” (The Complete Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus. Translated by Wm. Whiston. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kroegel Publications, 1991, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IX, 7, [222]).
12. Jeremiah 45: Jeremiah’s Promise to Baruch
As previously noted, Baruch has served as Jeremiah’s faithful scribe. Most of what has been recorded regarding the writings of Jeremiah and Lamentations in our current scriptures are the result of his persistent efforts. Baruch has also passed through many of the trials that have come to Jeremiah during his years of service.
Jeremiah 45:2-3
2 Thu 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; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.
Being called to the Lord’s service is often difficult as we are not also given special immunity from the challenges and vicissitudes of mortal life. Disappointments, hardships, and the death of loved ones are but some of the experiences that come into our lives as we also serve the Lord. These challenging events in our lives are often designed by a loving God to provide us with individual refinement, but often we do not receive them with a grateful heart. Such was likely also the circumstance with Baruch.
Early in his service to Jeremiah, “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim” (Jeremiah 45:1), the Lord pronounced a special blessing upon him predicated upon his continued faithful service.
Jeremiah 45:5
5 And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not;… thy life will I give unto thee for a prey [spoil] in all places whither thou goest.
Adam Clarke provides the following insight into Baruch’s blessing,
“As a prey or spoil is that which is gained from a vanquished enemy, so it is preserved with pleasure as the proof and reward of a man’s own valor. Bo Baruch’s life should be doubly precious unto him, not only on account of the danger through which God had caused him to pass safely, but also on account of those services he had been enabled to render, the consolations he had received, and the continual and very evident interposition of God in his behalf. All these would be dearer to him than the spoils of a vanquished foe to the hero who had overcome in battle” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible. Abridged by Ralph Earle. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, [Nineteenth printing, March 1991], 645).
13. Conclusions
Throughout the forty years of Jeremiah’s service as a prophet to Judah, he exemplified the qualities of a true prophet. These include: (1) True prophets are called of God and they teach that repentance and righteous living are our only true security; (2) True prophets prophesy the truth, even though it may be painful; (3) True prophets condemn false prophets and priests and preach against the sins of the people; and (4) The prophecies of true prophets are specific and detailed and the prophecies they speak are fulfilled.
Richard L. Evans reminds us,
“a prophet is seldom popular, and the cost of being a prophet is always great: for he may be called upon to say those things which are not pleasing, even unto himself; he may find himself fighting against a tide of mass misconception, and as history records, he may be stoned, crucified, banished, ridiculed or shunned–for the truth is not pleasing unto all men, and time has proved that majorities are not always right… It is not important that a prophet should say those things with which you and I are in full accord. But it is important that you and I should bring ourselves into full accord with those things which a prophet speaks by virtue of his office and calling” (“On Being a Prophet” in Improvement Era, November, 1939, 672).
Jeremiah had been given a most difficult calling as a prophet. He was to call a people to repentance, the vast majority of which would reject his message. He was persecuted, ridiculed, and threatened death by those who should have given him honor and praise. He would live to witness the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of his people. One constellation to him was the confirmation from the Lord that in the future, Israel after being scattered would be gathered once again. This time she would come with humble and obedient hearts, ready to receive their Lord once again. For the present, Jeremiah would have to be satisfied that he had always been valiant to his calling as a faithful servant of the Lord in spite of the challenges and obstacles to which he had been subjected.