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Bible verses about A Tale of Two Complaints
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 12:5-7

God begins by asserting, in effect, “If you think it's bad now, wait until I'm done with Judah. The worst of times are yet to come!” Jeremiah has only done battle with those in Jerusalem in a time of relative calm—the calm before the storm. The going would get really tough outside Judah, in the countries where God would eventually send the prophet, in Egypt, Spain, and Ireland.

As in His response to Baruch, God here reminds Jeremiah that he was not living in normal times but turbulent ones: “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies” (verse 7). When God lifts His protective hand from His people, all sorts of terrible things are likely to ensue. The wolves will pounce.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part One)


 

Jeremiah 12:10-11

God had surveyed His land and had seen the horrendous devastation wrought upon it by self-serving, uncaring, unappreciative people, leaders of the nation who should have known better. The result of the environmental degradation will be a lot of work—but not much in the way of harvest.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part One)


 

Jeremiah 12:14

In verse 14, God reiterates that He will in no way be deterred from His purpose of uprooting Judah. The wicked in Judah will ultimately not prosper, and they will assuredly reap what they have sown. He stresses here that He will also destroy Judah's “evil neighbors,” who have attacked her over the years.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part One)


 

Jeremiah 15:1-8

Chapter 15 records Jeremiah's second complaint. Here, the prophet experiences a crisis as major—if that could be—as the crisis Judah's king and people were experiencing. Jeremiah's was a crisis in belief so dangerous that it threatened his position as God's prophet. Chapter 15 opens with what can only be characterized as a sensational word-picture of God's rejection of Judah. Indeed, only a man after God's own heart, with a super-robust conviction of God's ultimate beneficence, could stomach such a mammoth calamity, seeing God's hand in it.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 15:10-11

The intensity of rhetoric in the preceding verses, the horrific images it evokes, brings Jeremiah to experience profound depression, as verse 10 indicates. Jeremiah is not even a banker, yet people all around him condemn him!

Consider that, to this point, God has as yet done nothing more than what He told Amos He would always do: He would do nothing until he has revealed His secret to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7). Yet, the information He has provided Jeremiah has overwhelmed him. The prophet mouths the same formula Baruch would later utter, “Woe is me.” Is there anyone on “the whole earth” who understands what Jeremiah has gone through and who appreciates the work he is doing for God? Is he, like that mariner of old, alone in the wide, wide sea?

God's response contains three elements:

1. A message of hope, assuring the prophet that he is not alone (verse 11).

2. A powerful rebuke, complete with a threat (Jeremiah 15:19).

3. A reminder of the grace He has afforded Jeremiah from the start (Jeremiah 15:20-21).

God starts out with a message of hope, promising Jeremiah that He will provide a remnant, a group of people who will survive the siege and the destruction of Judah. Jeremiah is not alone and will never be alone. By His use of the term “your remnant,” God indicates that Jeremiah will “own” this group; he will be its leader. “Surely it will be well with your remnant; surely I will cause the enemy to intercede with you in the time of adversity and in the time of affliction” (verse 11).

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 15:15-18

Jeremiah is not satisfied with God's assurances. In verses 15-18, the prophet retorts with words bespeaking the depth of his dejection, the seriousness of his crises of belief. Jeremiah reminds God that he has taken of God's Word and rejoiced in it; he has called on God's name and avoided the gainsayers. Yet, his pain is ongoing. Like Baruch, he finds no rest (see Jeremiah 45:3). Will God be with him to the end? Will God abandon him? The Jubilee Bible 2000 renders verse 18 this way: “Why was my pain perpetual and my wound incurable, which refuses to be healed? Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar and as waters that fail?”

Strong words! Like Asaph, whose “feet had almost stumbled” and whose “steps had nearly slipped” when he became envious of “the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3), Jeremiah is clearly experiencing intense spiritual doubts. Can God use such an individual as His spokesman, His prophet, especially in this time of national emergency, the approaching “worst of times?”

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 15:19

God continues His response to the prophet with a stunning rebuke, one which contains more than a veiled threat.

This translation masks the moment—the import—of God's words. He is warning Jeremiah that he must return, that is, repent, abandoning “this mistaken tone of distrust and despair,” as The Amplified Bible glosses verse 19. God promises He will restore him as His prophet, the “mouth” of God, only if he comes to understand the difference between the precious way of God and that vile way of the wicked.

The Living Bible better conveys the import of God's comments to Jeremiah with this paraphrase of verse 19:

Stop this foolishness and talk some sense! Only if you return to trusting me will I let you continue as my spokesman.

The Message handles the same passage this way:

Take back those words, and I'll take you back.
Then you'll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don't stoop to cheap whining.
Then, but only then, you'll speak for me.

The Good News Translation presents this paraphrase:

If you return, I will take you back, and you will be my servant again. If instead of talking nonsense you proclaim a worthwhile message, you will be my prophet again.

It is clear that God is not mincing His words. In this time of crisis for Judah, God demands a servant in whom He can have confidence, one who will fearlessly warn in the face of persecution and who will remain committed to carrying out His work to its conclusion—no matter where that work may take him. God needs an individual of resolute and indefatigable faith.

Actually, God is telling Jeremiah that his office of prophet is on the line. He absolutely must overcome his doubts of God's fidelity. He must not fall back into the ways of the people of Judah. He can only continue to be separate from them by believing God.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 15:20-21

As God so often does, He attaches encouragement to His rebukes. God is in fact reminding the prophet of his original commission, as recorded in Jeremiah 1:18-19:

Today I have made you an armed city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall against the entire land—the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and all its people. They will attack you, but they won't defeat you, because I am with you and will rescue you. (Common English Bible)

It was the worst of times back then, yet not so bad as the coming Tribulation that we face today. God demands that His people be faithful. Should we come to doubt God's reliability and His faithfulness—should we come to feel He has abandoned us, His people—we may want to think hard about God's words to Jeremiah: “If you change your heart and return to me, I will take you back. Then you may serve me” (Jeremiah 15:19, New Century Version).

The ever-faithful God will not forget His plans for us, even though we may come to forget His promises to us.

Charles Whitaker
A Tale of Two Complaints (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 36:5-7

Jeremiah had upset the apostate leadership so much that they had forbidden him to enter the Temple precincts. Jeremiah, therefore, delegates Baruch as his proxy.

Charles Whitaker
Baruch's Complaint (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 36:23-26

The destruction of the scroll is emblematic of the king's arrogant rejection of its message. Verse 24 tells us the Jewish leaders “were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments.” To add insult to injury, the king orders the arrest of Jeremiah and Baruch, a command that is never executed because God has hidden them (verse 26).

Charles Whitaker
Baruch's Complaint (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 45:3-5

God puts things into perspective for Baruch by making clear His intention and purpose. He has set His hand to bring about a major change in “this whole land.” However, God had taken action to protect Jeremiah and Baruch, hiding them away as the sun was setting on Judah. The catastrophe to come was immense in scope: All the civilizations of that time were in various stages of unraveling, being uprooted by God Himself.

God cuts through the smoke, that is, through any excuse Baruch may offer for wishing to end his service to Jeremiah and, through him, to God. Jeremiah 45:5: “But as for you, do you seek great things for yourself? Stop seeking!” (Holman Christian Standard Bible [HCSB]).

We may surmise why Baruch sought “great things” for himself. First, he may have considered himself well-positioned to take advantage of unstable times, times of war. Having come from a prominent—or perhaps, once-prominent—family, he may have had the capital with which he could fund significant investments. He may have been well-connected in the society of his day.

He was obviously educated. He understood that knowledge, properly leveraged, becomes power. And knowledge he had, in spades. As the secretary of God's prophet, he was an insider's insider. He knew what God was doing. A significant piece of that knowledge was that God had committed himself to protect Jeremiah in troubled times. After all, had he not himself transcribed God's words, recorded in Jeremiah 1:17-19?

What an insurance policy—underwritten by God Himself! Baruch well may have thought that, if he did not seek to use the unstable situation to his benefit, he did not deserve greatness. Add a little ambition to the mix, and you have a recipe for covetousness.

While we do not know the specifics, Baruch apparently sought to take advantage of highly turbulent times, leveraging the knowledge he had to turn a profit. God did not mince words: “Stop seeking.” He urges Baruch to read the words he had transcribed for Jeremiah and to heed their warming, not underestimating the enormity of the changes that were in the wings. Jeremiah would shortly see Jerusalem in flames; Baruch would see it in ashes. Great things—fame, notoriety, and money—would do Baruch no good in circumstances totally unlike the days of the fathers, when God had uprooted everything.

Baruch appears focused—maybe even fixated—on himself. He wants to aggrandize himself, bestowing “great things” on himself. In this regard, it is interesting to note the promise that God issues to Baruch: His life. That is all—just his life.

Jeremiah 45:5 reads, “. . . I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” The HCSB renders it as, “. . . grant you your life like the spoils of war.” The Common English Bible states it as, “I will let you escape with your life.”

The implication of God's promise to Baruch is twofold. First, God connects Baruch's life with war. War and struggle would characterize his life. Baruch would continue to live as a blessing of God in the midst of a highly unstable environment, not apart from that environment, not in a state of immunity from its hardships. While many others would lose their lives, property, or freedom in the troubles that lay just ahead, God promises that He will preserve Baruch's life.

Second, the clause “wherever you go” hints that Baruch's would be a life “on the move.” Perhaps he would even be fleeing for his life at times. His life would not be a settled one behind a white picket fence in suburban Jerusalem. The rest that Baruch wanted, mentioned in Jeremiah 45:3, would not come in this life: It would come later.

It was the worst of times. The winter of despair chilled Baruch. Yet, God promises him his life, if he will refocus his priorities on God's work, not on seeking fame for himself. It is motivation that Baruch seems to have taken to heart.

Charles Whitaker
Baruch's Complaint (Part Two)


 

 




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