Jeremiah 23:1-8 – A Righteous King

Read Jeremiah 23:1-8

A heart made out of letters saying Christ is Your Righteousness in all different sizes

The idea of kingship continues from our last reading, but with a different focus and three unexpected promises. The author is using the image of shepherds and sheep which would mean a lot more to the people first hearing God’s message. However, while shepherds are known to be very intent on providing the best care for their sheep, these kings were being likened to bad shepherds.

Here are the promises: (1) “Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them” but there will remain a remnant; (2) a righteous descendent of King David’s line will be raised up to lead with justice; and (3) the people will one day recall the rescue from exile in Babylon rather than the exodus from Egypt. What made these promises “unexpected?”

The surprises for me include that Jeremiah hasn’t talked a lot about a “remnant” before. In that message lies hope, a fresh change of pace from the focus on doom up to now. Jeremiah also isn’t known as the prophet pointing to Jesus. Yet he does so here with a sense of hope attached. And lastly, we know that Jewish tradition always remembers the exodus, especially during Passover. Having such a powerful story replaced by a miraculous return from Babylon seems hard to fathom, but God is a provider of new things.

The apostle John notes in Revelation 21:5, “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” What new thing does God want to do in your life right now? Are you placing your hope in Christ or the world?

Bible scholars have a lot to say about this short passage in terms of its authorship and placement within the book of prophecy. As a total novice to Bible history and form, I like that there is an oasis of hope for the future. When I read this passage, I picture Jesus as the righteous king. In Jesus, I place my hope for the future.

Here’s a “fun fact” that surfaced from my reference checks. In our last reading, I was curious why Zedekiah wasn’t mentioned. Apparently, the reference in this reading to the good shepherd is “The LORD Is Our Righteousness.” The name Zedekiah apparently means, “Yahweh is righteous.” Interesting. The coming king is promised to be righteous, while King Zedekiah is far from that ideal. Zedekiah lived a completely different life than his namesake would suggest.

Because I saw Jesus, that’s the focus for me. Jesus is my hope in this dark and disillusioned world. Jesus has always been the answer for people struggling to find the truth. Jesus is the one who saves us and keeps us safe. “In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.” We know from the New Testament that all believers will be saved by the blood of Jesus.

Hallelujah! If you’re feeling unworthy or unsure in your faith journey, reflect on Romans 3:24. “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Jesus is the righteous king, and he frees us! Do you believe this with your whole heart?

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for your grace and how you sent Jesus to make things right between us. Your wisdom and perfect timing continue to astound and bless me to my core. Help me to cling to the hope you offer with each passing day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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