By Not Known
The history of the world is but the biography of great men. Thus speaks Thomas Carlyle, a nineteenth-century Scottish philosopher. On his view, history is made by great people doing great things.
Carlyle has a point. Where is broader history without the heroes who ‘turned the moment’? Where is the story line of the Bible without Abraham, Moses, David, Paul and such like? However, there is a balancing truth. The spaces between the deeds of great people are filled by ordinary people faithfully playing their part with ordinary deeds. Furthermore, the deeds of these people enable the deeds of the great.
This is a great encouragement, for most of us are the ordinary people or little people of God. In the language of Paul (1 Cor 12) we are a fingernail or a minor blood vessel in the body of Christ. Yet, Paul also reminds us of the necessity, importance and honour of every part including the smallest (1 Cor 12:21-26).
Baruch is one of God’s little people. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Baruch was of noble birth. According to the Bible, his brother held a staff officer’s post under King Zedekiah (Jer 36:4; 51:59). However, we remember him in more humble roles as the personal assistant and note-taker to the Jeremiah.
Thus Baruch witnessed a land transaction of Jeremiah (Jer 32:11-15) and hand-wrote a scroll of Jeremiah’s sermon notes which he later read in the temple precinct (Jer 36:4-9). But this tedious note-taking was in vain! King Jehoiakim did not like what he heard on the scroll and burnt it and thus Baruch had to repeat the task (Jer 36:11-32). He was later accused of treason (Jer 43:1-3) and he and Jeremiah went together to exile in Egypt (Jer 43:6-7). Josephus records that both Jeremiah and Baruch were then taken to Babylon after the 583 BC invasion of Egypt by Babylon.
Jeremiah was certainly one of the great ones of his day as he bore faithful witness to the Lord over 40 or more years, preaching in difficult circumstances. However, Baruch seems to have been the ‘enabler’ who made Jeremiah’s ministry possible. Further, in all likelihood we would not have the book of Jeremiah without Baruch’s labours to write, re-write and then safely secure his record of Jeremiah’s sermons. Without Baruch, Jeremiah would be a silent prophet to us.
What is your part in the ordinary works of God? We are not all called to be a ‘number one’. Most of us will be a ‘number two’. Let us strive to be the best ‘number one’ ‘number two’ that we can be.