Back in his day, all secretaries were men. So that wasn’t why Baruch was hired. Coming from a prosperous and prominent family, he was both highly educated and skilled. Probably overqualified. Nevertheless, he took his job seriously. Whether his boss was in or out of prison, he would be at his side, meticulously taking the dictation.
Moreover, Baruch was well connected in society. His grandfather had been a governor of Jerusalem. Thus, he was no stranger to the political movers and shakers of his time. He understood their language, so to speak, and liked rubbing elbows with them.
His employer, on the other hand, had no life outside of his relationship with God. To him God was the be-all and end-all of his existence. As Mr. Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch should know. Their close contact gave him a window into the prophet’s soul. Seeing his boss’s innermost thoughts and feelings and the intents of his heart, he knew he was the real deal.
Committed to being God’s messenger, Jeremiah followed to the letter whatever the Almighty told him to do and say. Then he embraced the subsequent suffering.
For more than two decades Jeremiah had been warning his fellow citizens of God’s looming judgment if they didn’t shape up. As if stone deaf, however, the people kept their noses in the air. Disbelief, disobedience, and disrespect for the God of their history festered.
Now God’s mercy had reached the end of its rope. He directed Jeremiah to dictate all of those past prophecies for Baruch to compile in one volume. The time for executing justice had come.
And yet, God held out a shred of hope when He told Jeremiah: “Perhaps when the house of Judah hears about all the disaster I am planning to bring on them, each one of them will turn from his evil way. Then I will forgive their wrongdoing and their sin” (Jeremiah 36:3 HCSB).
As Baruch inked a flair to the final yod, Jeremiah gave him his next assignment. “I am restricted; I cannot enter the temple of the Lord, so you must go and read from the scroll—which you wrote at my dictation—the words of the Lord in the hearing of the people at the temple of the Lord on a day of fasting. You must also read them in the hearing of all the Judeans who are coming from their cities” (Jeremiah 36:5-6 HCSB).
What a stroke of luck! This would be the next rung on Baruch’s climb up the career ladder. He would be in the spotlight, showing off his oratorical powers.
Finally, the seemingly endless waiting was over. The day of fasting had come. “So Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet had commanded him. At the Lord’s temple he read the Lord’s words from the scroll” (Jeremiah 36:8 HCSB).
Before Baruch could leave the temple, he was summoned to the palace. The princes who had the king’s ear requested an immediate private reading.
Wow! Another career rung! Baruch massaged his ego that the next step would be an appearance before the king himself. But that’s not what the princes concluded after hearing Baruch read Jeremiah’s prophecies.
Knowing the king all too well, they sensed imminent danger. Instead of ushering the secretary into the king’s presence, they urgently advised, “You and Jeremiah must hide yourselves and tell no one where you are” (Jeremiah 36:19 HCSB).
While in hiding, the ambitious secretary sank into depression. But God would not leave him there. Putting His finger on the problem, God let Jeremiah in on it and gave him a message for Baruch: “But as for you, do you seek great things for yourself? Stop seeking! For I am about to bring disaster on every living creature” (Jeremiah 45:5 HCSB).
Civilization as Baruch knew it was crumbling around him. The day was nearing when Jerusalem would be in ashes, the temple in ruins, and the population in captivity. This was no time for Baruch to be making grandiose plans for himself. It was as if God were saying, “Get a grip on yourself, man. Look at the big picture.”
Evidently, he did. For Baruch was still faithfully recording Jeremiah’s prophecies when the two of them were taken to Egypt.
Dare we have the courage to pray: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24 HCSB)?