Summary: Jeremiah - reveals that Jesus is my righteousness
JEREMIAH 231-8: MY RIGHTEOUSNESS
Have you ever come across someone who is a real prophet of doom? The sort of person who looks at a glass and sees it as half empty and not half full. I am sure we have all come across such people. In the Bible Jeremiah is the prophet of doom in many ways. He thunders against the people of Judah. He spoke the Word of God some 587BC when Zedekiah was king of Judah. We are going to look at some 8 verses in chapter 23 but let me just set them in context. In chapter 21 Zedekiah had sent a delegation to Jeremiah to find out what God was saying to the kingdom at that time. Chapters 21-27 are the record of the sermons which Jeremiah preached at that time. In chapter 22 Jeremiah is instructed by God to go to Zedekiah’s house and preach – this he does. So chapter 23 is taking place in the palace before Zedekiah and the court officials.
VERSES 1-2 SHEPHERDS OR WOLVES.
We sometimes say of someone that they are ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’ What we mean by that is that they are not really what they seem. Jeremiah says exactly that about the leaders of Judah. He is not only speaking of the king but also of the courtiers and the priests. They had been charged by God to lead the people in the ways of God but they had done the very opposite. Look at what God says through Jeremiah to them – verses 1-2. They had scattered, they had destroyed – they were supposed to unite and build up the people but they did the very opposite. The people supposed to be leading, setting an example, teaching the ways of God and bringing the people together under God actually did the opposite. The result is that God will visit judgement upon them for this. You see Zedekiah was actually a very weak king and because of his weakness those around him did as they pleased. They were open to corruption and bribery and it was not beyond them to shed innocent blood to get their way. They all stand guilty before God as false leaders and as failed leaders.
VERSES 3-4 THE SHEPHERD GATHERS IN THE SHEEP.
Because those whom god had placed in leadership had failed and the sheep were now scattered all over the world. At this time the people of Israel were in captivity to Babylon and Assyria. God now, as always, takes the initiative. God, the true Shepherd of his people, is going to gather his people together again. He is going to stretch out his arm and gather them around him. He will also replace the faithless shepherds with faithful shepherds. God will not see his people scattered and lost forever. No, he will intervene, as he did in the past, because his desire is for his people to be one and to be lead in the way of righteousness before him. So God through Jeremiah speaks of this regathering of his people.
VERSES 5-6 THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The Lord now addresses the people concerning one who will come to be their Righteousness. Let us look closely at these two verses because they are central to our understanding of how Jesus is our righteousness before God.
The days are coming – this is a very familiar saying in the OT. It is a saying which pointed forward to the day of the coming Messiah. So when Jeremiah speaks these words immediately his hearers knew he was speaking of the promised day of the Messiah.
…to David a righteous Branch. In the OT David is seen as the perfect king. God had established a covenant with David (2 Samuel 7.8-16), in which he promised to establish David’s throne forever. That is why when we get to Matthew’s gospel Matthew is at great pains to trace the lineage of Christ back to David. It is also why on Palm Sunday the people chanted ‘Hosanna to the son of David.’ This Righteous One, who would gather and lead the people of God, is a branch (or shoot) from the line of David. That is why Isaiah in chapter 53 speaks of him as a shoot growing out of the dry ground. So this Righteous One is coming in the future and is of the lineage of David.
King – he will be a king who will rule with wisdom and with justice – in stark contrast to the present situation. He could not be but a king being of the line of David, the royal family. He will rule with the wisdom of Solomon and justice will be a mark of his kingdom. This king will bring together all of the qualities and characteristics of past kings and yet he will exceed them.