B.C.P. Trinity 25 Jeremiah 23:5-8
Jer:23:5: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6: In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8: But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.
This O.T. book originates over 600 years before the birth of Jesus. At that time the people of God were split into two kingdoms. Israel in the North and Juda with it's capital Jerusalem in the South. Judah had enjoyed some prosperity but was then conquered by the Egyptians and then the Babylonians. Jerusalem had been reduced to rubble. The Kings of Jerusalem had failed to honour God, and failed lead their country well.
It was against this background that Jeremiah gave his message which would be fulfilled by Jesus. Jeremiah was probably unaware of the full significance of this prophecy. But there are times when there are two levels to O.T. prophecy. One an immediate one, and the other referring to Jesus.
So Jeremiah had this God-given picture of an earthly King, yet this really refers to Jesus, the Messiah.
The Messiah is a righteous King.
He is called a righteous branch, or shoot. This is to say that he will be a descendant of David. c.f. Matthew's Gospel.
Righteous means following God's perfect will. The Kings of Israel and Judah had consistently failed to follow God's ways. Many of them failed God and his people and disappointed the prophets. We all do this at times. Yet Jesus is perfect. He always loved God with his whole being. He always loved others more than himself. That is why he went to the cross in our place, because he loves us so much.
Today is celebrated as 'Christ the King' Sunday in the modern lectionary. It is a reminder that Jesus is THE King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His rule and kingdom are different from ones experienced on earth. The way of Jesus involves love, peace, self-sacrifice, humility and self-control. The way of the world often involves hate, hostility, injuring or killing others, and self-assertiveness.
The Messiah is God.
He is called the Lord our righteousness, verse 6b.
The Messiah, the righteous King is God, the Lord ! God has invaded human history by becoming a man, Jesus. We celebrate this mind-blowing truth in five weeks time. We celebrate this event when we move into a new millennium. Yet many people will be unaware of the true significance of what they will be celebrating on the 25th December. This is an opportunity to share the good news. One of the ways we can help is to tell people about Jesus and our Christmas services. We have about 1700 leaflets to be delivered to the homes of Talke and Talke Pits so helping to deliver these, if you can, would be good.
The Messiah will redeem his people.
We have a God who chooses unlikely people to follow him and then delivers then because he loves them. We see this in the way that God chose Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and the Jewish people. He chose to deliver the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. This was an undeserved deliverance and, afterwards, God told the Israelites how he wanted them to act in response to his undeserved favour.
Like the Kings of Israel we can never be righteous enough. So, in Christ God has become our righteousness. the Lord our righteousness His perfection has been credited to us. Like a person who has no money suddenly being given millions of pounds by a rich benefactor.
For those whose lives are united with Jesus God does not see their spiritual bankruptcy. Their wrong thoughts, deeds and words. Instead God sees Jesus' perfection. This is not credited to believers because they are any better than others, but because God, in his grace has chosen them.
So at this service let us remember that we have an unchanging God who is full of favour to those who do not deserve it.
Let us thank God that, before history started, he had planned to come to earth as a man to redeem his people.
Let us bear that in mind as we approach Advent, Christmas and a new millennium.
Let us also remember that the only prophesy that has yet to be fulfilled is that King Jesus is going to return, to bring his kingdom to fruition, and to banish from it those who have already rejected his kingship.