He’s one of the little-known characters in the Bible (although one of the deutero-canonical books carries his name). He was a contemporary of Jeremiah, Old Testament prophet at the time of the fall of Jerusalem and appears in several chapters in the second part of Jeremiah’s prophecy.
His name is Baruch, son of Neriah.
His appearances are not in chronological order, but he first appears in chapter 32, as a witness to Jeremiah’s prophetic act of buying a piece of land, despite the impending fall of the city.
Then in chapter 36 he serves as Jeremiah’s scribe, writing down a record of the Lord’s messages against Judah. With Jeremiah under arrest, Baruch is tasked with going to the Temple where he reads the prophecies to the worshipers. Some of the officials ask for a further reading; they are frightened and urge Baruch to hide while they went to tell the king about them. In an acts of callous arrogance, the king burned the scroll, rejecting God’s message.
In chapter 43, Baruch, along with Jeremiah, travels to Egypt, where the survivors of the city’s fall have chosen to go for shelter, in defiance of Jeremiah’s warning.
The final reference is in chapter 45 in the same year that he had written down and read out the Lord’s messages through Jeremiah. Baruch was struggling. He felt that the Lord had added sorrow to his pain. It cannot have been easy to be the bearer of bad news. It cannot have been easy to feel that his life was under threat. If the character of the king was such that he would not think twice of cutting and burning the word of the Lord, it was hardly an easy time to be a prophet.
The Lord knew how Baruch was feeling.
(Read that again – some of you might need to hear it).
And he spoke a message that carried both a warning and a promise.
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.
If God calls you to be a prophet in challenging times, don’t expect an easy ride! In fact you should never expect your calling to be a path to prestige and comfort: it’s about faithfulness. And don’t allow the apparently successful and prestigious ministries of other people divert you from being faithful to what God has entrusted to you. Christian ministry – prophetic or otherwise – is not primarily intended so that Christian ministers can feel good about themselves.
The life of a prophet is not a guaranteed picnic.
But, as God promised to protect Baruch, so he promises that nothing can separate us from his love.
Be faithful and trust his sovereignty over your life.