A righteous branch
When a nation has lost its way, is there any hope? When God's people themselves have lost their way, is there any hope?
Needed: a new shepherd
Today, we think of kings as mostly politi- cal figures. But ancient Israel was a special kind of nation—a nation of God’s people. And a special nation needed a special kind of king. The kings of Israel were supposed to be shepherds; spiritual leaders who would exemplify, encourage and justly enforce obedience to God’s law and rule. The spiritual health of God’s people is, in a sense, determined by their leaders.
Read Jeremiah 23 v 1-4
- - Why is the LORD angry with the "shepherds?" How will He treat them (v 2)?
- - How will the LORD treat His people (v3)?
- - Read Genesis 1 v 28. What is the significance of the promise in that they'll one day again "be fruitful and increase in number" (Jeremiah 23 v 3)
Today, God’s people are not a political nation, and so the leaders of God’s people are no longer political kings.
Read 1 Peter 5 v 1-4
- - Who exercises oversight (humanly speaking) over the church now?
- - What should that oversight look like? how do Peter's instructions remind you of God's promise in Jeremiah 23 v 4?
- - Who is the Chief Shepherd? What does that tell us about authority in the church?
Promised: a new king
One king who had shepherded God’s people properly was David. And God had promised David that one of his descendants would rule over God’s people for ever (2 Samuel 7 v 11b-16). In Jeremiah’s day, that promise seemed to hang by a thread as Babylon carried Judah’s king off into captivity. Those who had stayed faithful to God must have wondered: had He forgotten His promise?
Read Jeremiah 23 v 5-6
- - What kind of king is God still promising to "raise up?" What will this king do?
- - What will be the result of this king's leadership (v 6)?
- - How is this promise ultimately fulfilled? (Hint: read Luke 1 v 32; 19 v 38)
Even when things look bleak, God is faithful to His promises.
- - How does that encourage you today?
- - How does that help you not to worry about tomorrow?
- - If you live in a nation which has rejected God... or if your institutional church seems to have turned its back on the real God... how do these verses give you hope?
This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.
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