Adjusting Our Perspective
Loving Lord, You are the God of grace and glory. I offer myself to You anew today.
Read Jeremiah 45:1-5
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:11,12).
The fourth year of Jehoiakim (605 BC) would be some 20 years before the preceding narrative of the Judaeans in Egypt. Presumably it is located here for thematic reasons, as an appropriate note on which to end the main narrative within the book.
The promise to Baruch that he will stay alive has obvious resonance with the earlier promise to Ebed-Melek (Jer. 39:15-18). Yet surely the greatest resonance of this passage is with Jeremiah himself, and it may be that to a significant extent Baruch, the friend and scribe of Jeremiah, is here representative of his friend, and for that reason concludes the narrative. The grief and pain ascribed to Baruch are expressed earlier in the book on the lips of Jeremiah (e.g. Jer. 15:10-18; 20:7-18) and could well still to be on his lips when he was taken to Egypt. Baruch, as companion to the prophet, might have hoped for reflected glory from the man of God, such that he himself would be acclaimed and honored. Jeremiah, too, could have been tempted to hope for public recognition and acclaim; he, too, might have hoped for “great things” (5), but they are living through a difficult time of upheaval and overthrow (4). In such a context, recognition and acclaim, or wealth, are not options. The only gift they will receive is staying alive.
On one level, life is obviously survival. Yet life, in the wider biblical context, is so much more than that. It is the understanding of one’s existence as a gift, a wonder, a fruit of love, eliciting thanksgiving and faithful adherence in response. To know oneself thus is to have true treasure, which cannot be destroyed or stolen. When we are tempted to hope for our own preferred “great things,” Baruch and Jeremiah can help reframe our perspective.
Do you feel you have a servant’s heart? If it is counter-intuitive to you, pray for the Lord to increase your love for others.
Lord, keep me from self-seeking ambition, and let me find my joy in life in serving You and others.
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