Lesson 13

Baruch: Building a Legacy in a Crumbling World

(Jeremiah 7,36 & 45)
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Introduction: What if I told you that you would end your life owning only the clothes you were wearing? What if I also told you that you would be a faithful warrior for God your entire life? Would you feel that God had let you down? Would the Bible's promises of blessings for those who are faithful seem false and bitter? This week we study a man who had great personal ambition, stood strong for God against great opposition, yet escaped with only his life. Let's plunge into the Bible and see if we can make any sense of this!

  1. Warning


    1. Read Jeremiah 7:1-3. Do these kinds of rules still apply today? Do our actions determine the relative peace in which we live? (We can note all sorts of exceptions, but I believe this is the general rule: obedience to God brings a more peaceful life.)


      1. Do these rules apply to nations - that disobeying God means trouble in the future?


      2. Notice that the text says "I will let you live in this place." What does that mean? (Babylon was moving to conquer God's people and destroy the Temple in Jerusalem.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 7:4. What argument were the people making against Jeremiah's prophecy? (This is God's nation! His temple is here. How could God side with pagans?)


      1. How would you like to deliver a message that appears to be unpatriotic? That appears to side with the pagans?


    3. Read Jeremiah 7:5-7. What does this suggest about the nature of faith? (Just saying that God is with us is "deceptive." What God wants is not just words but a change in our ways.)


      1. What does this teach us about righteousness by faith? (Righteousness by faith is not mere words. Our faith, our thoughts, are reflected in our actions. If we think that the issue of our belief in God is somehow sealed off from our works, we are trusting in "deceptive words!" On the other hand, the instant that we sincerely confess and believe, we are saved. The issue for the Christian is whether you continue to believe - your actions say a great deal about your thinking.)


      2. What was the theological problem with the faith of "God's people?" (They were following other gods.)


        1. How can this be if they claimed to follow the Lord?


        2. Is this something that should concern us today who claim to be Christians?


      3. What was the practical problem with the actions of the people? (They were oppressing the poor and the powerless, and killing the innocent.)


    4. Read Jeremiah 7:8. What lesson does this suggest for us today? (We are in danger of being deceived. Satan claims that mere words are a substitute for trusting God and properly treating others.)


      1. There are many texts in the Bible which tell the rich to share with the poor. Is that the issue here? (In texts such as Proverbs 28:27 God tells us that there is a blessing in helping the poor and a curse in ignoring their plight. But, Jeremiah's warning goes beyond this - those in power are actively harming the poor.)


    5. Read Jeremiah 7:9. Are these the sins we see today? Are these temptations in your life?


    6. Read Jeremiah 7:10-11. Are we safe to sin if we attend the right church? If we are a citizen of the right nation?


  2. Baruch in the Battle


    1. Read Jeremiah 36:1-3. What is the purpose of the kinds of warnings that we have just studied? (God wants us to turn away from our sins. God will forgive us. He wants us to avoid disaster.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 36:4-7. What is Baruch's role in working with the great prophet Jeremiah? (He is the scribe. Adam Clarke's Commentary tell us that Baruch was not just a writer, but he was a learned man, "one acquainted with laws and customs." Sounds like he was Jeremiah's lawyer!)


    3. Read Jeremiah 36:8-10. How would you like this job - not just writing down the prophet's words, but standing up and sharing them in the most public place - words which say the people are wicked and the nation will fall to pagans?


    4. Read Jeremiah 36:11-15. What would your hopes be if you were Baruch? (My reading before these important officials may cause them to take God's warning seriously. It would be great for God, great for the nation, and great for Baruch.)


    5. Read Jeremiah 36:16-18. Are things going the right way? What reaction do the high officials of the land have to Baruch's reading? (Yes. Things are going wonderfully. They take the words seriously. They fear what he has written.)


      1. Why do they want to know who wrote those warnings? (To see if they actually came from the prophet of God.)


    6. Read Jeremiah 36:19. If the words of God are being taken seriously, why should they have to hide?


    7. Read Jeremiah 36:20-23. What does the King think of the words of Jeremiah? (He shows his contempt.)


    8. Read Jeremiah 36:24-26. Now we see why the King's officials suggested that Baruch and Jeremiah hide. If the officials correctly predicted the King's reaction, why take the document to the King at all? (They feared not telling the King.)


    9. Read Jeremiah 36:27-32. How would you like the job of Baruch? What does this suggest about being honest about sin? (It suggests that warning is necessary, but that it will not be popular.)


      1. In my experience, it has generally been the "nut cases" who are proclaiming that something is terribly wrong with my church. Re-read Jeremiah 36:24. How do we judge whether we are being like this wicked King? (Read Jeremiah 7:22-23. Our only safe guide is to go to God's word and be sure that we are "walk[ing] in all the ways [God] command[ed]." That is the way to distinguish the warnings of the nuts from the warnings of those who speak for God.)


  3. Baruch After the Battle


    1. Read Jeremiah 45:1-3. To whom is this message from God addressed? (Baruch.)


      1. If you were Baruch, would you think you deserved a message from God? (You were doing God's work by being a partner with God and Jeremiah. Now the King is hunting for you. You are in hiding. Since the King is cutting and burning what you have written, you have the feeling that getting caught would not be a good thing. As a result, you are "worn out with groaning and find no rest.")


      2. What else should be troubling Baruch? (The warning he had been declaring - that the nation was going to fall to Babylon.)


      3. Let's go back to where we started and read Jeremiah 7:1-3. Was that not a promise to Baruch as much as anyone else?


        1. What future does Baruch see? (It is hard to see a good one. He is tired, complaining and cannot sleep.)


        2. Has God broken His word?


    2. Read Jeremiah 45:4-5. What had been Baruch's hopes and dreams? (Verse 5 suggests he was looking for great things for himself. Why not? He thought that if he worked with God's great prophet, that his future would be bright and successful. That is implicit in the message to God's people that he had been proclaiming - reform and live in peace.)


      1. What is the future more likely to hold? (God says that He will overthrow his people and bring disaster.)


        1. Imagine a future in which your country is invaded, your church destroyed, and disaster is everywhere. What would be your mental attitude?


          1. How would your attitude be if you previously planned (hoped) to be a high and respected official (or prophet) in God's favored nation?


      2. What future does God promise Baruch? (He will escape with his life.)


      3. What lesson does this teach us? (The quality of our life depends in part on the faithfulness of those around us.)


        1. Is that fair? (Consider what God has gone through because of our unfaithfulness.)


    3. Friend, are you like Baruch? Have you been faithful in delivering God's message, but the power of evil has destroyed your hopes, plans and dreams for life on earth? In the great conflict between good and evil, that sometimes happens. God's promise to Baruch shows that God cares about him. Will you place your confidence in God's love and care even when your personal plans for fame and fortune are in flames?


  4. Next week we begin a new series of studies of the Bible and human emotion.

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