“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
“For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The Lord has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.” – Jeremiah 33:14-26 ESV
God continues to assure Jeremiah that the future is far more bright than it may immediately appear. Yes, the Babylonians have Jerusalem surrounded, Jeremiah is in jail and God has promised that the nation will fall and many of its citizens will go into captivity. But that’s not the full extent of God’s plans for Judah. In chapter 29, God had reassured Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV). The fall of Jerusalem was part of the plan, but not its final fulfillment. There was more to come. Their destruction by the Babylonians would be the result of their own sin and rebellion against God – they had broken their part of the covenant they had made with Him. During the time of the Exodus, when God was leading them out of slavery in Egypt to the land He had promised to Abraham, He laid out His law for them. God clearly articulated the conditions for their relationship with Him. And when they heard it, they had agreed to it.
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” – Exodus 24:3 ESV
They had not kept their promise to God, and the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel years earlier, and the impending fall of Judah were the result of their disobedience. But God was going to keep His word. He had promised David that his kingdom would last forever.
“And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” – 2 Samuel 7:16 ESV
“When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.” – 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 ESV
This promise to David was only partially fulfilled in the reign of Solomon, David’s son, because Solomon’s reign did come to an end, because of his idolatry. And as a result of Solomon’s unfaithfulness to God, the nation of Israel was split in two, with the ten northern tribes becoming the nation of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin becoming Judah. Israel had already fallen to the Assyrians because of their sin. Now Judah was on the brink of suffering the same fate. It won’t be long until there is not king anywhere to be found in the former land of Israel. But God is telling Jeremiah that a new day is coming. And this was simply a reiteration of what God had told Jeremiah earlier, as recorded in chapter 23.
“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 23:5-8 ESV
A righteous branch. An offshoot of David. A godly ruler who would live in obedience to the law of God and rule according to the will of God. And that individual would be Jesus, a descendant of David and the Son of God. It is interesting to note that in the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus gave as part of His Sermon on the Mount, He used these words: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 ESV). And that prayer will be ultimately fulfilled by Him when He returns to earth to rule and reign in Jerusalem.
And along with the return of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom in Israel, the New Covenant, which replaced the old one with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, will see the reestablishment of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system. During the time of Jeremiah, the priesthood had become corrupt and immoral. With Christ’s return, God will also return the practice of the offerings, but instead of them looking forward to the coming of the unblemished Lamb of God, they will be commemoration and celebrations of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
“For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.” – Jeremiah 33:17-18 ESV
This will all take place in the Millennial Kingdom, the period of Christ’s thousand year reign on the earth. For all of this to happen, God is going to have to bring about a major change within the people of Judah and Israel. To restore the priesthood to its intended holiness, God will have to do a work. For the people to honor Christ as their King, they will have to have their hearts transformed. And God has promised to do that as well.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.” – Ezekiel 36:25-29 ESV
The days are coming. A righteous Branch. New hearts. A new spirit. Those are some pretty incredible promises. And despite the fact that everything around Jeremiah looks like it is falling apart, God is trying to let him know that the future is bright. God has everything under control. He will do for His people what they could never have done for themselves. He will redeem and restore them. He will forgive their sins. He will return them to the land. He will reestablish the sacrificial system, not for the forgiveness of sins, but as a form of thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son that made the redemption of men possible. Ultimately, it is the righteous Branch who died a sinner’s death that will make the restoration of unfaithful Israel possible.
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.