Better Things than We have Seen

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel”

Philippians 1:12

The Apostle Paul found himself in many dangerous situations and tortures and pain for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In order to tell the world of his day about the love of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the world, and the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the washing away of sins by the blood of Jesus Christ, Paul faced trials that many of us could never imagine. In the day of adversity Paul put his trust in the Lord, and the Lord delivered him. 

It was a time of great destruction and turmoil in the days of the Prophet Jeremiah. In his day the kings of Babylon, namely Nebadchadrezzar, marched great forces into Israel and Judah to spoil the land, killing thousands of people of all ages, stealing away the precious items from Solomon’s temple (which they also burned down), and bringing hundreds of thousands back to Babylon as slaves. It was destruction that few nations have ever seen since. Years before the armies marched into the land, however, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and told him to proclaim to the Jewish people that the destruction was coming, and that unless they obeyed the Lord by what Jeremiah spake unto them, they would die by the sword by the thousands. 

Now, the kings of Judah were not happy about this news from God, and many false prophets rose up to tell lies to them in order to get good standing with the kings. Jeremiah was instead thrown in jail, in a miry pit, and dragged around by governors and leaders against his will. But was this a little unusual? Jeremiah preached during the reign of a good king, so had the prophets Isaiah and Nathan and others. No doubt these were considered great men of faith by many in Jeremiah’s day. Many men even today believe in the protection of the Lord, and this faith is not misplaced, for these prophets also believed in God’s ability to bring them through harm. But as the book of Hebrews says they, “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13), which shows that these men knew that the Lord would prepare a place for them that was immune to destruction, violence and sorrow.

Do we understand this? Even today? Even now that we know that Christ went away to prepare a place for us, and will be back again to take us home with him and destroy this place? Paul had seen many lost souls come to Christ in joy, but for Jeremiah it was a mostly lonely and sorrowful road to walk. But the Lord did give him friends, and one such friend was Baruch the scribe. 

The interesting thing about Baruch was his naivety. Whereas the false prophets attempted to get filthy lucre and high positions by spreading false prophecies, Baruch believed he could be successful and respected because he told the truth. After all, many prophets in the Jews’ history were respected and beloved either at the time they lived or after. So when Jeremiah sent Baruch to read to the princes of Judah the word of God (Jeremiah 36) as Jeremiah had given him to write, he probably expected the princes to take it gladly, to rejoice with this scribe, and obey the Lord in a glorious victory for the land of Judah. But alas, each of our dreams for such circumstances rarely ever become realities, for it cannot be our words that move a man’s heart to repentance, only the word of God can do that. So the princes, though unmoved yet convicted by the possibility of such horrific destruction, told Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves from the wrath of the king and the king’s army. From that day forward Baruch was a hunted man, and he was much disappointed that the word of God was not taken to heart, and that any respect he had desired to receive for obeying God would never come.

Oh how Baruch mourned! And he said, “Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest” (Jeremiah 45:3). Do we sometimes feel that obeying the Lord is a burden? Perhaps we think that the work is too hard, or the turmoil too much? Paul said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Baruch had to learn, like many of us, that this world is only ordained for destruction, and the demolition will come without us residing in the building. So the Lord’s answer to Baruch was to ask why Baruch would seek great things for himself in a land ordained for destruction? God said, “I will bring evil upon all flesh” (Jeremiah 45:5) and pluck up the whole land. Yet for Baruch God said, “Thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest” (Jeremiah 45:5). As God preserved Baruch for his belief in the LORD, so are we preserved for our belief and salvation through Jesus Christ. So why must we seek great things for ourselves? After all, the things that happen to us fall out for the furtherance of the gospel of Christ, and if our goal is to warn others of the destruction to come, as Baruch did, and the salvation of the LORD, as Baruch did, then what happens to us now should bring us great joy in the Lord, as long as we follow his will.

Remember our missionaries and persecuted Christians in prayer, and may God be with you all.

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