Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from the wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. — Jeremiah 44:4-5
Harry Truman, the eighty-four-year-old owner of Mount St. Helen’s Lodge in the State of Washington, had lived on the north base of the mountain for over fifty years. There had been signs of volcanic activity, and in March of 1980, “his mountain,” as he liked to call it, began to shake more violently and frequently. Experts predicted a major eruption would occur soon and instructed residents in the area to leave.
Harry decided to stick it out. As the earthquakes and minor eruptions increased, news reporters came to interview him, documenting his determination not to leave the mountain. This publicity made him a well-known figure, and people everywhere became alarmed about his safety. Many wrote to him warning him with concern, urging him to leave while there was still time. A class of schoolchildren from Clear Lake Elementary near Salem, Oregon, sent him letters which touched him deeply. But he said that the mountain would never hurt him, and continued to refuse repeated invitations of transportation to safety.
Finally, he was told by the local sheriff to evacuate immediately, but Harry locked his door and settled down to wait it out. When the searing blast of Mount St. Helens’ volcanic eruption came at three hundred miles per hour on May 18, 1980, one scientist said Mr. Truman probably only had time to turn his head before his life was over. He “hearkened not” — he did not heed the warnings given — and so he perished.
Mr. Truman’s determination to stay on the mountain was not wicked, but his choice resulted in his death. In our focus verses, Jeremiah referenced the many warnings given to the people of Judah by God’s servants. They were warned to leave their sin of idolatry so their lives could be saved. Yet even though this offer of grace was given many times, the people continued in their sins, and eventually those choices led to their own deaths.
People today have received warnings as well — admonition regarding the vital necessity of turning to God in repentance for sins, the need to live holy lives in accordance with the Word of God, and the penalty for going their own way and ignoring the proffered mercy of God. We can learn from the tragedies of Mr. Truman and the people of Judah, and determine to “hearken.” It pays to heed the warnings of God’s Word!
Chapter 44 contains Jeremiah’s last recorded message to his people, the Jewish remnant, and chapter 45 is a short message to Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch.
When the few remaining Jews in Judah traveled to Egypt, they joined other Hebrew refugees who were already settled in various areas of that land. Once there, these people were again worshiping idols and heathen gods. Jeremiah reminded them that because of their idolatry, God had destroyed their land, Jerusalem, and the Temple. He also reminded them of all the prophets who had given warnings of what would happen if they continued to worship idols that could not hear or see, and that many had been killed because they would not heed. Yet at this point, those who had survived were repeating the same sins they had committed in Judah. They told Jeremiah that everything had gone well with them in Judah until King Josiah had made them give up idol worship, when their situation worsened. They felt they were better off worshiping idols.
Jeremiah told them that because of their continuing idolatry they would be seriously punished. Many of them would die by the sword, by famine, and by perils. He specifically mentioned the women who were active in worshiping the Queen of Heaven. This angered the Jews, and they refused to hear him. The people had rejected the warnings sent by God’s servants for over forty years. To the very end, they refused God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation. Therefore, Jeremiah’s last words to them stated that God would “watch over them for evil.” Of these refugees who sought safety in Egypt, only a few fugitives would ever return to their homeland.
Chapter 45 contains Jeremiah’s admonition to Baruch, whose name means “blessed.” This man served Jeremiah as a scribe and a personal secretary, and as such, he was significantly impacted by the ministry of Jeremiah.
The message of this chapter was given to Baruch during the reign of Jehoiakim, and chronologically fits with chapter 36. However, it was a personal communication and therefore was written separately from the public discourses. Baruch is thought to have recorded the last events of Jeremiah’s life, and putting this record with them seemed appropriate.
Baruch was a grandson of Maaseiah, who governed Jerusalem when Josiah was king (2 Chronicles 34:8). Since his family had some importance, Baruch may have had hopes of attaining a prominent position. Instead, by being a scribe to Jeremiah, he suffered and even was in life-threatening circumstances at times. He expressed his discouragement when he said, “Woe is me now!”
Through Jeremiah, God told Baruch not to build his hopes on a future in Judah because everything there would be destroyed, and He warned Baruch not to seek great things for himself. However, God did also extend encouragement, saying that Baruch’s life would be spared.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
D. The circumstances of the prophet
3. Jeremiah’s experiences after Jerusalem’s fall
f. The message to the Jews in Egypt (44:1-30)
(1) The rebuke of their sins (44:1-10)
(2) The declaration of judgment (44:11-14)
(3) The rejection of the people (44:15-19)
(4) The restatement of judgment (44:20-30)
g. The message to Baruch (45:1-5)
(1) Baruch’s complaint (45:1-3)
(2) Baruch’s comfort (45:4-5)
Unheeded warnings lead to serious consequences. Let’s make sure that we “hearken” to what the Lord is saying to us and follow through in obedience.