A Serious Case of Writer’s Cramp

September 11, 2010 at 9:32 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

Jeremiah 36, 45  Though there are 8 chapters in between these two, they belong together, as they tell different parts of the same story.  In chapter 36, God tells Jeremiah to write all the words he’s spoken to him on a scroll.  Jeremiah calls his buddy, Baruch the scribe, to help him.  Jeremiah dictated and Baruch wrote.  That was a lot of writing, considering he did it with a quill and ink well on leather parchment.  This scroll probably consisted of chapters 1-20 and 25-26 of our modern book; much of the rest was written after this event.  I call that a major case of writer’s cramp.  Then Baruch was instructed to read the words of the scroll he’d written to the people of Jerusalem during a large festival.  When the king got word of what was being read, God’s promises to destroy the nation, he confiscated the scroll, cut it into pieces, and burned it in the fire.  So God appeared to Jeremiah and told him to write the entire thing again, plus a few added chapters!  So “Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire; and many similar words were added to them.” (v32)  For Baruch, it was writer’s cramp times two!

In chapter 45 God speaks to Baruch about the incident; this message falls chronologically between the two scroll writings: “You said, ‘Ah, woe is me!  For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest.’” (v2)  I wonder if he was expressing his pain over the destruction God had prophesied or over how he felt writing it all down, but it sounds like the latter!  That was a very self-focused attitude.  God assures Baruch that he will bring about the destruction he promised, then gives him this personal message:  “’Are you seeking great things for yourself?  Do not seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the LORD.” (v5)  God was doing his sovereign work; Baruch’s concern must be faithfulness to the task God gave him, not greatness in the eyes of men.  Baruch heeded the words and faithfully completed the second scroll.  May we stop pursuing human greatness and simply do what God has assigned us to do.

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