And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD…
The "vicar," an ecclesiastical officer of mediaeval times, - explain the origin and nature of his duties. Show how large this question of vicarious service, and how universal its necessity, in business, society, the state, the Church, etc. This incident illustrates -
I. ITS ESSENTIAL NATURE. Not merely that one should do, be, or suffer instead of another, but as representative of him. More or less consciously, sympathetically, adequately. That one man and not another should do a given duty, for instance, may be but the chance of fortune; but that he should do it for and in place of that other is for him to be that other's "vicar." This essential character of the transaction is not altered by the fact of the superiority, equality, or inferiority of the substitute.
II. ITS SUGGESTIVE INTEREST. An element of pathos and mystery. Perhaps the end better served in this than in the alternative way. Conceivable that the reading, the authoritative publication, and the supernatural interest, may have been enhanced rather than otherwise by the substitution.
1. The community of true service. How different in importance, etc., the function of the prophet in receiving the message and communicating it from that of the scribe! yet both are on this occasion indispensable. One man's service the condition of another's or its complement. All true service associated in relation to final ends and rewards (John 4:37, 38; Hebrews 11:40).
2. An impression of urgency produced. This was the message it was absolutely important for Judah to hear at that time. God always speaks at the right time, even when that requires extraordinary efforts and unusual means. The latter on this occasion must have eloquently suggested that now was the "accepted time" and "the day of salvation."
3. The earnestness of the prophet and his Inspirer. Jeremiah was the true friend of the nation and the devoted servant of Jehovah, therefore he did not excuse himself from the task because of its difficulties.
4. How inevitable the message? It was not to be evaded or suppressed. From the prison or hiding place the prophet wilt still be heard.
III. ITS ETHICS. Service of the kind here described was justifiable only on the supposition that the original or principal in responsibility is unable to do his own proper work, or that it can be better done by being delegated to another. Jeremiah is careful to explain why he does not do it himself. Would that the reasons for non-attendance in the sanctuary, or inoccupation in spiritual work, were as real and valid in the case of professing Christians!
1. On the part of the person instead of whom the service was rendered. He did not ask his substitute to do what he could do himself; and what he alone could do was done with the utmost care and diligence. It is calculated that the writing out of the roll from the prophet's dictation occupied nine months, and many delays and difficulties must have been experienced. His solicitude, too, on behalf of the proper delivery of the message by Baruch, is very instructive and inspiring. He sought (God's end in) the repentance of the people, and everything was to conspire to produce this. By example and moral influence he sought to fill Baruch with his own enthusiasm, and a sense of the importance of the task. The preacher is the vicar of the Church; so with the Sunday school teacher, etc. By prayer, sympathy, and loving cooperation Christians should encourage these.
2. On the part of the substitute. Baruch sought to do his part faithfully and with minute exactitude. His success in producing an impression proved how he exerted himself. A sense of responsibility should ever rest upon those who minister in the house of God. A certain measure of boldness was also required to do such a thug. The people or their princes might turn against him. Boldness is essential to the preaching of the gospel. But there cannot but occur to most readers the parallelism there is in all this to what Christ has undertaken for us. Another temple from whose service we are "shut up" by reason of personal unfitness, or that we remain in the flesh. Christ, our great Forerunner and Vicar, or Substitute, has entered into its holy of holies, with his own eternal sacrifice and intercession. Upon him all our hope must be placed; we must follow him in spirit; and we must imitate Jeremiah in the zeal and labour with which we execute our part of the great process of salvation. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,