Jeremiah was a prophet to people who were experiencing political turmoil. For years, Judah had been ruled by evil kings, men whose reigns were characterized by greed, idolatry, and injustice. Instead of caring for the people, they oppressed them. Jeremiah invited them to remember the covenant and shepherd God’s people. Instead of imitating the nations around them, he called the kings to be different, to show the nations how to worship the one true God. But they ignored Jeremiah’s warnings. Again and again, the kings chose their sin over God, and the people suffered.
Amid this season of chaos, God was not silent. Through Jeremiah, he called out the inadequacy and failure of Judah’s leadership. His words lobbed incriminating charges against those whose authority was not final but merely derived from the Sovereign One. The kings had forgotten they were stewards, appointed to care for a people who belonged to God.
Then, in Jeremiah 23:5–6, the prophet shared a startling promise. God was not going to do away with Judah’s theocracy. He was going to perfect it. From David’s family line, God would raise up a “righteous Branch,” a rightful heir to the throne. This king would do what Judah’s kings could not do—lead in a way that perfectly reflected God’s justice and righteousness. Under his rule, the people would thrive and God would be worshiped. This king would save the people from their oppression.
But this king would not be another human king. This king would be God the Son, Jesus.
With words full of hope, the prophet reminded the people that God had not forgotten them. He had not turned a blind eye to their suffering. Rather, he was preparing the way for their suffering to end. Out of love, God the Father would send God the Son into the world to save it from the root issue that plagued both Judah and its kings—sin. Under the reign of Jesus, sin will be no more. He will right what is wrong, punish evil, and bring about equality for all. Humanity will be treated with justice and will reflect the righteousness of God. Jesus will restore the shalom that sin has disrupted and tries to destroy.
Across the world, many people know the weight of political turmoil as they are ruled by leaders who choose greed, idolatry, and injustice over caring for God’s creation. Yet in the same way God saw Judah’s pain, he sees ours, and the hope of the promised Messiah is our hope too. As we celebrate Jesus’ first coming, we eagerly await his return. We need “the Lord Our Righteousness” to reign. We need Jesus.
Elizabeth Woodson is a Bible teacher, theologian, author, and the Founder of The Woodson Institute, an organization that equips believers to understand and grow in their Christian faith.
This article is part of The Eternal King Arrives, a 4-week devotional to help individuals, small groups, and families journey through the 2023 Advent season . Learn more about this special issue that can be used Advent, or any time of year at http://orderct.com/advent.
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