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Sabbath School Lessons on Background Characters in the Old Testament
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: Baruch: Building a Legacy in a Crumbling World *
Introduction: What if I told you that you would end your life owning
only the clothes you were wearing? What if I also told you that you
would be a faithful warrior for God your entire life? Would you
feel that God had let you down? Would the Bible's promises of
blessings for those who are faithful seem false and bitter? This
week we study a man who had great personal ambition, stood strong
for God against great opposition, yet escaped with only his life.
Let's plunge into the Bible and see if we can make any sense of
- Read Jeremiah 7:1-3. Do these kinds of rules still apply
today? Do our actions determine the relative peace in
which we live? (We can note all sorts of exceptions, but
I believe this is the general rule: obedience to God
brings a more peaceful life.)
- Do these rules apply to nations - that disobeying
God means trouble in the future?
- Notice that the text says "I will let you live in
this place." What does that mean? (Babylon was
moving to conquer God's people and destroy the
Temple in Jerusalem.)
- Read Jeremiah 7:4. What argument were the people making
against Jeremiah's prophecy? (This is God's nation! His
temple is here. How could God side with pagans?)
- How would you like to deliver a message that appears
to be unpatriotic? That appears to side with the
- Read Jeremiah 7:5-7. What does this suggest about the
nature of faith? (Just saying that God is with us is
"deceptive." What God wants is not just words but a
change in our ways.)
- What does this teach us about righteousness by
faith? (Righteousness by faith is not mere words.
Our faith, our thoughts, are reflected in our
actions. If we think that the issue of our belief in
God is somehow sealed off from our works, we are
trusting in "deceptive words!" On the other hand,
the instant that we sincerely confess and believe,
we are saved. The issue for the Christian is whether
you continue to believe - your actions say a great
deal about your thinking.)
- What was the theological problem with the faith of
"God's people?" (They were following other gods.)
- How can this be if they claimed to follow the
- Is this something that should concern us today
who claim to be Christians?
- What was the practical problem with the actions of
the people? (They were oppressing the poor and the
powerless, and killing the innocent.)
- Read Jeremiah 7:8. What lesson does this suggest for us
today? (We are in danger of being deceived. Satan claims
that mere words are a substitute for trusting God and
properly treating others.)
- There are many texts in the Bible which tell the
rich to share with the poor. Is that the issue here?
(In texts such as Proverbs 28:27 God tells us that
there is a blessing in helping the poor and a curse
in ignoring their plight. But, Jeremiah's warning
goes beyond this - those in power are actively
harming the poor.)
- Read Jeremiah 7:9. Are these the sins we see today? Are
these temptations in your life?
- Read Jeremiah 7:10-11. Are we safe to sin if we attend
the right church? If we are a citizen of the right
- Baruch in the Battle
- Read Jeremiah 36:1-3. What is the purpose of the kinds of
warnings that we have just studied? (God wants us to turn
away from our sins. God will forgive us. He wants us to
- Read Jeremiah 36:4-7. What is Baruch's role in working
with the great prophet Jeremiah? (He is the scribe. Adam
Clarke's Commentary tell us that Baruch was not just a
writer, but he was a learned man, "one acquainted with
laws and customs." Sounds like he was Jeremiah's lawyer!)
- Read Jeremiah 36:8-10. How would you like this job - not
just writing down the prophet's words, but standing up
and sharing them in the most public place - words which
say the people are wicked and the nation will fall to
- Read Jeremiah 36:11-15. What would your hopes be if you
were Baruch? (My reading before these important officials
may cause them to take God's warning seriously. It would
be great for God, great for the nation, and great for
- Read Jeremiah 36:16-18. Are things going the right way?
What reaction do the high officials of the land have to
Baruch's reading? (Yes. Things are going wonderfully.
They take the words seriously. They fear what he has
- Why do they want to know who wrote those warnings?
(To see if they actually came from the prophet of
- Read Jeremiah 36:19. If the words of God are being taken
seriously, why should they have to hide?
- Read Jeremiah 36:20-23. What does the King think of the
words of Jeremiah? (He shows his contempt.)
- Read Jeremiah 36:24-26. Now we see why the King's
officials suggested that Baruch and Jeremiah hide. If the
officials correctly predicted the King's reaction, why
take the document to the King at all? (They feared not
telling the King.)
- Read Jeremiah 36:27-32. How would you like the job of
Baruch? What does this suggest about being honest about
sin? (It suggests that warning is necessary, but that it
will not be popular.)
- In my experience, it has generally been the "nut
cases" who are proclaiming that something is
terribly wrong with my church. Re-read Jeremiah
36:24. How do we judge whether we are being like
this wicked King? (Read Jeremiah 7:22-23. Our only
safe guide is to go to God's word and be sure that
we are "walk[ing] in all the ways [God]
command[ed]." That is the way to distinguish the
warnings of the nuts from the warnings of those who
speak for God.)
- Baruch After the Battle
- Read Jeremiah 45:1-3. To whom is this message from God
- If you were Baruch, would you think you deserved a
message from God? (You were doing God's work by
being a partner with God and Jeremiah. Now the King
is hunting for you. You are in hiding. Since the
King is cutting and burning what you have written,
you have the feeling that getting caught would not
be a good thing. As a result, you are "worn out with
groaning and find no rest.")
- What else should be troubling Baruch? (The warning
he had been declaring - that the nation was going to
fall to Babylon.)
- Let's go back to where we started and read Jeremiah
7:1-3. Was that not a promise to Baruch as much as
- What future does Baruch see? (It is hard to see
a good one. He is tired, complaining and cannot
- Has God broken His word?
- Read Jeremiah 45:4-5. What had been Baruch's hopes and
dreams? (Verse 5 suggests he was looking for great things
for himself. Why not? He thought that if he worked with
God's great prophet, that his future would be bright and
successful. That is implicit in the message to God's
people that he had been proclaiming - reform and live in
- What is the future more likely to hold? (God says
that He will overthrow his people and bring
- Imagine a future in which your country is
invaded, your church destroyed, and disaster is
everywhere. What would be your mental attitude?
- How would your attitude be if you
previously planned (hoped) to be a high
and respected official (or prophet) in
God's favored nation?
- What future does God promise Baruch? (He will escape
with his life.)
- What lesson does this teach us? (The quality of our
life depends in part on the faithfulness of those
- Is that fair? (Consider what God has gone
through because of our unfaithfulness.)
- Friend, are you like Baruch? Have you been faithful in
delivering God's message, but the power of evil has
destroyed your hopes, plans and dreams for life on earth?
In the great conflict between good and evil, that
sometimes happens. God's promise to Baruch shows that God
cares about him. Will you place your confidence in God's
love and care even when your personal plans for fame and
fortune are in flames?
- Next week we begin a new series of studies of the Bible and
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.