“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.” – Jeremiah 23:1-8 ESV
Up till this point, the book of Jeremiah has been filled with a lot of doom and gloom. There hasn’t been a lot of good news or words of encouragement for the people of Judah, and rightfully so. They didn’t exactly didn’t deserve it. Their guilt has been adequately and unequivocally proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the judgment God has pronounced will take place just as He has said. But there is a bit of good news. In fact, it is actually very good news. The people of Judah were going to one day receive a major break from God. Yes, they would be defeated by the Babylonians and end up in captivity, but God would not allow them to remain in that sad state forever. He tells them of an as-yet-future event that will bring about their restoration. Even after all the lousy leadership provided by the shepherds of Judah, God was not going to leave them shepherd-less. They were guilty of having scattered the flock of God by their self-centered and godless leadership. And God has some serious words of warning for them:
“Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.” – Jeremiah 23:2 NLT
They were going to experience the wrath of God in full measure. But as for the people of Judah, God is going to one day shower them with His undeserved mercy and grace.
“I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number.” – Jeremiah 23:3 NLT
God will not tolerate poor leadership. He had given the kings, priests and prophets of Judah the responsibility of caring for His people. They were to have guided and protected them. They were to have been examples of godliness and faithfulness. But they had failed miserably. So, there is a day coming when God will give the people of Judah the kind of shepherd they had needed all along. But this won’t any ordinary leader. God isn’t going to give them a king like they’ve had before or a priest who follows the pattern of their current crop of unfaithful and scrupulous spiritual role models. This was going to be a one-of-a-kind, never-seen-before leader who would have all the character traits God looked for in a leader.
“For the time is coming,”
says the Lord,
“when I will raise up a righteous descendant
from King David’s line.
He will be a King who rules with wisdom.
He will do what is just and right throughout the land.
And this will be his name:
‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’
In that day Judah will be saved,
and Israel will live in safety.” – Jeremiah 23:5-6 NLT
This is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Messiah of Israel. Notice that He will do what is just and right. His very name will be “The Lord Is Our Righteousness.” He will save, redeem, lead, and rule over the nation of Judah as no one has ever done before. This promise has yet to be fulfilled, but it will be, because God always accomplish what He says He will do. Just as Judah would go into captivity, they will one day be returned to the land of Judah. That portion of God’s promise will be fulfilled partially after a remnant returns to the land after 70 years of captivity. But they will have no king, and even up until the days of Jesus, the Jews had no legitimate king who was a descendant of David. And that holds true for today as well. But the day is coming when all that will change. And when that days comes, things will be dramatically different for the people of God, the Jews. The prophet Ezekiel provides us with a glimpse into some of what will happen.
“‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and will rid the land of wild beasts, so that they can live securely in the wilderness and even sleep in the woods. I will turn them and the regions around my hill into a blessing. I will make showers come down in their season; they will be showers that bring blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the earth will yield its crops. They will live securely on their land; they will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be prey for the nations and the wild beasts will not devour them. They will live securely and no one will make them afraid. I will prepare for them a healthy planting. They will no longer be victims of famine in the land and will no longer bear the insults of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they are my people, the house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord. And you, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are my people, and I am your God, declares the sovereign Lord.’” – Ezekiel 34:25-31 NLT
As followers of God, we are always to live with our eyes focused on the future. We live in days that will not last. At this moment it appears that evil is winning and the enemy is having his way in the world. But God is still sovereign and in complete control. He knows things of which Satan is oblivious and unprepared to handle when they come. The liar will discover the truth of God’s majesty and glory. The great deceiver will find he has been deceived all along and only operating under the limiting power of God. And as for God’s people, the Jews, God is going to keep the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is going to fulfill all that He promised to David. God will accomplish all that He has said He would do, and we must never lose sight of that reality. In His Word, God has given us insights into how the story ends. His plan for His creation culminates in victory. The final days will be glorious and victorious. God will rid the world of sin and death. He will renew His creation and reestablish His people as His chosen ones on this earth. His Son will rule over them with justice, righteousness and mercy. And they will obey God gladly and completely because He will provide them with new hearts that are free from sin. That day is coming.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.