Baruch 1:15-3:8 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Holy Bible, The Book Of Baruch.

Figures 047 The Lord Appears to Moses in a Bur...

Figures 047 The Lord Appears to Moses in a Burning Bush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Baruch 1:15-3:8

15 And you shall say: To the Lord our God belongeth justice, but to us confusion of our face: as it is come to pass at this day to all Juda, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 16 To our kings, and to our princes, and to our priests, and to our prophets, and to our fathers. 17 We have sinned before the Lord our God, and have not believed him, nor put our trust in him: 18 And we were not obedient to him, and we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his commandments, which he hath given us. 19 From the day that he brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt, even to this day, we were disobedient to the Lord our God: and going astray we turned away from hearing his voice. 20 And many evils have cleaved to us, and the curses which the Lord foretold by Moses his servant: who brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt, to give us a land flowing with milk and honey, as at this day. 21 And we have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord our God according to all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us: 22 And we have gone away every man after the inclinations of his own wicked heart, to serve strange gods, and to do evil in the sight of the Lord our God. 2 Wherefore the Lord our God hath made good his word, that he spoke to us, and to our judges that have judged Israel, and to our kings, and to our princes, and to all Israel and Juda: 2 That the Lord would bring upon us great evils, such as never happened under heaven, as they have come to pass in Jerusalem, according to the things that are written in the law of Moses: 3 That a man should eat the flesh of his own son, and the flesh of his own daughter. 4 And he hath delivered them up to be under the hand of all the kings that are round about us, to be a reproach, and desolation among all the people, among whom the Lord hath scattered us. 5 And we are brought under, and are not uppermost: because we have sinned against the Lord our God, by not obeying his voice. 6 To the Lord our God belongeth justice: but to us, and to our fathers confusion of face, as at this day. 7 For the Lord hath pronounced against us all these evils that are come upon us: 8 And we have not entreated the face of the Lord our God, that we might return every one of us from our most wicked ways. 9 And the Lord hath watched over us for evil, and hath brought it upon us: for the Lord is just in all his works which he hath commanded us: 10 And we have not hearkened to his voice to walk in the commandments of the Lord which he hath set before us. 11 And now, O Lord God of Israel, who hast brought thy people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand, and with signs, and with wonders, and with thy great power, and with a mighty arm, and hast made thee a name as at this day, 12 We have sinned, we have done wickedly, we have acted unjustly, O Lord our God, against all thy justices. 13 Let thy wrath be turned away from us: for we are left a few among the nations where thou hast scattered us. 14 Hear, O Lord, our prayers, and our petitions, and deliver us for thy own sake: and grant that we may find favour in the sight of them that have led us away: 15 That all the earth may know that thou art the Lord our God, and that thy name is called upon Israel, and upon his posterity. 16 Look down upon us, O Lord, from thy holy house, and incline thy ear, and hear us. 17 Open thy eyes, and behold: for the dead that are in hell, whose spirit is taken away from their bowels, shall not give glory and justice to the Lord: 18 But the soul that is sorrowful for the greatness of evil she hath done, and goeth bowed down, and feeble, and the eyes that fail, and the hungry soul giveth glory and justice to thee the Lord. 19 For it is not for the justices of our fathers that we pour out our prayers, and beg mercy in thy sight, O Lord our God: 20 But because thou hast sent out thy wrath, and thy indignation upon us, as thou hast spoken by the hand of thy servants the prophets, saying: -21 Thus saith the Lord: Bow down your shoulder, and your neck, and serve the king of Babylon: and you shall remain in the land which I have given to your fathers. 22 But if you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to serve the king of Babylon: I will cause you to depart out of the cities of Juda, and from without Jerusalem. 23 And I will take away from you the voice of mirth, and the voice of joy, and the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, and all the land shall be without any footstep of inhabitants. 24 And they hearkened not to thy voice, to serve the king of Babylon: and thou hast made good thy words, which thou spokest by the hands of thy servants the prophets, that the bones of our kings, and the bones of our fathers should be removed out of their place: 25 And behold they are cast out to the heat of the sun, and to the frost of the night: and they have died in grievous pains, by famine, and by the sword, and in banishment. 26 And thou hast made the temple, in which thy name was called upon, as it is at this day, for the iniquity of the house of Israel, and the house of Juda. 27 And thou hast dealt with us, O Lord our God, according to all thy goodness, and according to all that great mercy of thine: 28 As thou spokest by the hand of thy servant Moses, in the day when thou didst command him to write thy law before the children of Israel, 29 Saying: If you will not hear my voice, this great multitude shall be turned into a very small number among the nations, where I will scatter them: 30 For I know that the people will not hear me, for they are a people of a stiff neck: but they shall turn to their heart in the land of their captivity: 31 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God: and I will give them a heart, and they shall understand: and ears, and they shall hear. 32 And they shall praise me in the land of their captivity, and shall be mindful of my name. 33 And they shall turn away themselves from their stiff neck, and from their wicked deeds: for they shall remember the way of their fathers, that sinned against me. 34 And I will bring them back again into the land which I promised with an oath to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they shall be masters thereof: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be diminished. 35 And I will make with them another covenant that shall be everlasting, to be their God, and they shall be my people: and I will no more remove my people, the children of Israel, out of the land that I have given them. 3 And now, O Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, the soul in anguish, and the troubled spirit crieth to thee: 2 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy, for thou art a merciful God, and have pity on us: for we have sinned before thee. 3 For thou remainest for ever, and shall we perish everlastingly? 4 O Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, hear now the prayer of the dead of Israel, and of their children, that have sinned before thee, and have not hearkened to the voice of the Lord their God, wherefore evils have cleaved fast to us. 5 Remember not the iniquities of our fathers, but think upon thy hand, and upon thy name at this time: 6 For thou art the Lord our God, and we will praise thee, O Lord: 7 Because for this end thou hast put thy fear in our hearts, to the intent that we should call upon thy name, and praise thee in our captivity, for we are converted from the iniquity of our fathers, who sinned before thee. 8 And behold we are at this day in our captivity, whereby thou hast scattered us to be a reproach, and a curse, and an offence, according to all the iniquities of our fathers, who departed from thee, O Lord our God.

Plagues of an unyielding heart. (Satyagraha unrequited.)

The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buo...

The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena Cathedral). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Justin Borger with assistance from Generous Giving staff

When a human heart won’t yield to God, it must be broken. Pharaoh’s refusal to release the Israelites from slavery in Egypt is not unlike the old, gnarly tree stump that refuses to be uprooted without a tractor and a few sticks of dynamite. When a stump won’t give, it must be broken. Similarly, after God commissioned the prophet Moses to lead his people out of the land of bondage, he told Moses,I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go (Exodus 3:19-20).

Again, just before he gave Moses permission to perform the first plague, which turned all the water in Egypt into blood, God reemphasized his reason for bringing such cataclysmic disaster and violent upheaval upon Egypt: Pharaoh’s “unyielding” heart had caused him to refuse to let God’s people go (Exodus 7:14).

We should exercise caution in drawing too close a parallel between Pharaoh and ourselves because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 10:1), while he has promised to give us new hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Still, it is important for us to recognize that an unyielding heart always brings disaster. This truth applies to both Christians and non-Christians—whoever refuses to yield and withholds what belongs to God. The Old Testament prophet Malachi was very clear that pagan kings are not the only ones guilty of withholding things that God demands. Malachi was speaking to God’s own people when he asked, “Will a man rob God?” and told them that they were under a curse because they were robbing God by withholding the tithes and offerings he demanded (Malachi 3:8-9). God demands that we let go of everything that does not belong to us (Romans 13:7), and the account of the 10 plagues in the book of Exodus teaches us just how serious God is about this demand.

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament contains many examples of the troubles that come when our hearts grow hard and unyielding. One of the most frightening examples of this kind of disaster is the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). This married couple gave the proceeds from the sale of some property to God under the pretence that they were contributing everything they had received from the sale. However, secretly they withheld some of the money. Both were struck dead. Even though it would not have been wrong to keep the property with which God had blessed them, their hearts were hard and unyielding in spite of their superficial desire to appear generous before others. The severity of their punishment serves as a stern warning for the times when we feel our hearts hardening and growing increasingly unyielding, or when we become aware that our gifts and contributions to God are given grudgingly. The devastating consequences of an unyielding heart also can be sin, as demonstrated in the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-31). This young man asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor.” Unfortunately, the man’s heart had grown unyielding, and he chose to part with Jesus rather than the possessions Jesus had told him to give away.

How have our hearts hardened? In what ways have we given grudgingly or refused to yield? Do we rob God of our time? “Time is money,” and in our hypersonic culture, the devotion we give to God in service and worship tends to be lickety-split. Just as God demanded that Pharaoh let his people go, he demands that we—his people—yield ourselves (Romans 12:1). God demands that we give him our time and devotion and prioritize weekly rest from our regular work so that we can serve him and those around us in ways that are tangible and deliberate (Exodus 20:8-11). But this is not all. Besides our time, we also rob God of our efforts. How often are our energies absorbed by God’s purposes “on earth as it is in heaven”? We offer up the dregs of our existence after being entirely exhausted by the finite things about which we really care. And of course, like the rich young ruler, we rob God of our money by failing to give generously to the poor and needy.

The point to remember is this: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). In the end, God cannot be robbed, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36). Everything has been created by him and rightly belongs to him. The manner in which we give to him can vary greatly. Everything in creation is at God’s disposal, so the question is whether we will give willingly, with yielding hearts, or whether we will harden our hearts and have our closed hands forced open by the Almighty God. We will either experience the joy of giving generously or, like Pharaoh, be smashed, having everything taken from us. In light of these ultimate ends, everyone should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion from others but out of love for God’s Son, who became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 9:7).


Related Passages: Exodus 3:19-20; 7:14; 10:1; 20:8-11; Ezekiel 36:26; Malachi 3:8-9; Mark 10:17-31; John 12:37-41; Acts 5:1-11; Romans 2:5; 11:36; 12:1; 13:7; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Hebrews 3:7-19