“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In this place which is desolate, without man and without beast, and in all its cities, there shall again be a dwelling place of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. 13 In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the South, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, the flocks shall again pass under the hands of him who counts them,’ says the Lord. 14 ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ 17 “For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.'”
As we continue our look at God’s plans for Israel in the future, I hope that you are taking the time to research this for yourself. My desire for you, or anyone who reads these articles/lessons is that they would be inspired to be students of the Scriptures. I pray that you would dive in and become very, very familiar with the Bible, and when you hear stuff that does not align with the Bible, that your ‘scripture radar’ would go off and the Holy Spirit will begin to call verses that you have read and studied to mind so that you can know the truth and not be fooled; or as the scripture says, ‘tossed about with every wind of doctrine.’
Today, we will look at this promise that God gave to Jeremiah the prophet even as Jerusalem was falling into the hands of the Babylonian Empire, often called the Chaldeans. In Genesis 49:10, we get one of the first promises about the persistence of the Kings of Israel.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
We are told that the kings of Israel would reign from the tribe of Judah and that the power, the scepter, would not depart from Judah. This is the promise that the King tribe would be Judah and that the promise is forever. Although we cannot see it today with our physical eyes, this promise is fulfilled in Jesus. He is the oldest living male from the tribe of Judah and, as such, has the right to rule as the King of the Jews. He was executed as such (see John 19:19). Pilate understood who Jesus was, even if the Jews did not.
In our text that is quoted above, we have a promise to the nation of Israel from God through the prophet Jeremiah. At this time, somewhere between 627BC and 582BC, these events occurred, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Benjamin was sacked and overrun by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. It was horrible; women began to eat their own children, the dead lay in the streets, and their bodies were left as food for the animals and the birds. The Babylonians carried about 10,000 youths and young men away to serve in Babylon. This is where we get the book of Daniel from and hear of the exploits of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; these young men were among the captives that were taken to live in Babylon.
Jeremiah is heartbroken for his beloved city, Jerusalem, and for his people of Israel. He has been a front-row witness to the wrath of God. He saw firsthand what happens when people defy God and think they can do whatever they want and get away with it; they were wrong. Jeremiah saw bloodshed and pain as never before, and sadly, his ministry was not one of hope but one of judgment and suffering. As such, he is asking God for a bit of hope; is there some light at the end here? God answers him in these verses and makes three promises.
- The day is coming for God to do good things for Israel, verse 14
He promises that there will once again be flocks in and around Jerusalem and in Judah, the province where Jerusalem is. There will be shepherds and flocks and enough sheep and goats to require counting. This refers to commerce and people living there. One day, God promises that Jerusalem will be populated again, and there will be business, farms and activity. If we only had this verse, we could simply turn to the book of Nehemiah and Ezra and say they’re fulfilled. The captives came back and set up houses and had families, and by the time Jesus came along, commerce and even a new Temple were there. But we would be missing an important part of the promise God made to Jeremiah.
- There will be a new King, verse 14
This is a promise about Jesus, the Branch of righteousness that will execute judgment and righteousness on the earth. We are told that this will happen when Jerusalem dwells in ‘safety’; this has not happened as yet. There are constant threats from the Palestinians and other groups attacking Israel. There is no peace or safety right now. Soon, a false ‘safety’ will be sold to them by the New World Order, and they will jump at it, but that peace will not last for a long time.
But God goes even further with His promise, and He tells Jeremiah in verse 17, “David shall NEVER lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.” Notice the word ‘NEVER’; this is a promise that once there is a King, the Branch in verse 15, and He is established as the King, this throne will never be vacated again. This has not happened, so this is a promise that is yet to be fulfilled. God, then, must have a plan to restore Israel and appoint the monarch (Jesus). Once appointed, He will reign forever; thus, God is not done with Israel.
- The perpetual priesthood, verse 18
On top of the promise of the eternal King, there is a promise of an eternal priesthood. Not Jesus being the High Priest/King like we explored in Hebrews but priests from the tribe of Levi, as God promised Aaron in the Torah when the priesthood was established. Once again, there is no need for a priesthood without Jerusalem. There is no need for a priesthood without a Temple and without sacrifices (but that is another lesson).
Suffice it to say, these are promises that God made to Jeremiah about the future of Israel, and these have not been realized as yet. We will see them be fulfilled and see the joy on Jeremiah’s face when he sees God’s faithfulness. We can trust that God will be faithful to us because He is faithful to Israel. He is the God who keeps His promises.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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