Monday, May 19, 2014

Jeremiah 45: Should you seek good things for yourself?

Jeremiah 45 is so short, and so quirky, that I’ll just give it to you in full.

When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: 3 You said, ‘Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ 4 But the LORD has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. 5 Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’” 
Now this is a common enough kind of reasoning. We all think it and say it sometimes: “Quit your complaining, buddy, everybody’s got problems.” But for some reason it seems incongruous spelled out so plainly here in scripture. Perhaps that’s because it is generally more of a formula for shutting down someone else’s grievances then a philosophical stance in its own right.

In any event, Jeremiah is rather in the catbird seat when it comes to employer-employee relations with his scribe: “Yes, you DO have to put in more unpaid overtime. God says so. Stop grumbling.”

Jeremiah 45 is not a particularly popular passage, so far as I can tell. Like the rest of the potentially distressing material that makes up the bulk of the Book of Jeremiah, it is basically invisible in the roseate world of Christian imagery. So here’s my humble contribution.

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