Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study Jeremiah, who lived in the 600s BC. He was a prophet, so he spoke directly for God. The book of Jeremiah tells his story, including many of the words and actions he used to communicate for God. He wasn’t well received at the time – he was persecuted and unappreciated. He was the bearer of bad news – warning God’s people Israel that their grievous rebellion against God, called sin, meant they would soon lose every visible sign of blessing God had given them, including their land, their city, their temple and self-governance by kings descended from King David. This bad news was meant to point towards good news as well – that God wouldstill be faithful and merciful to them, and would someday restore them.
This is one of the longest books – it has fewer chapters than Isaiah, but more words, so in some ways it is the longest! Worth reading, but this week we’ll focus in on just two key passages that many people have seen pointing forward to Jesus.
“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.’ (Jeremiah 23:1-6 ESV)
Clearly there is some condemnation here for these false shepherds who are misleading Israel. God is expressing displeasure at the way Israel has been governed, and in its religious leaders. The coming destruction is because of this mismanagement and wilful rebellion.
But God has a plan to gather a “remnant” back – the Israelites who were truly faithful to him would become a new Israel, and populate a new Jerusalem.
On the one hadn, this happened in history. Jerusalem did get overrun, the Israelites did get scattered in exile, and they eventually returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. They would have kings yet again.
But not completely. The kings were far from perfect, and the people weren’t without fear. The kings also couldn’t be called Lord – there were not God. There was still something missing. That’s because this was a prophecy with a present application, and a future one.
This was also pointing forward to how Jesus would do this on a larger scale – he would inaugurate a new kingdom of heaven, a new Jerusalem, for all of humanity that had rebelled against him in sin, and then scattered around the world at the Tower of Babel. The human race’s many divisions from one another, and from God, would be undone. All pain and sorrow would end, fear would end. It would be governed by the Messiah, the fulfillment of all their dreams for a good and righteous king, descended from (a branch from) David.
Question: Describe this new way of life in your own words. What would the kingdom of heaven, the new Jerusalem, be like?