Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 3, 2016

The Righteous Branch

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The Righteous Branch    Jeremiah 23:5-6

What do you think of when you see a tree stump? Well, for one thing you probably think that tree has seen better days. The glory days for that tree that is now just a stump lie in the past not the future. You would probably not look at that stump and think that great and wonderful days of fruitful seed bearing lie ahead. After all the tree is dead and gone and all that remains now is a stump.

The Old Testament prophets used the imagery of a stump as a prophetic promise. Isaiah spoke of the coming messiah with imagery of a stump in Isaiah 11: 1.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

A similar imagery of the righteous branch with the same basic message of the coming messiah is found here in Jeremiah 23:5-6

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’

Jeremiah is the prophetic voice of the Lord in 600 BC calling the Lords people to righteousness. Judah the Southern kingdom is in a disastrous mess politically and spiritually. Their leaders have failed them. Jeremiah was the prophet during the last five kings of Judah that came in quick succession: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. There was a revival during the reign of Josiah but that was short-lived.

The last and final king of Judah was Zedekiah. Ironically Zedekiah’s name meant ‘The LORD is my Righteousness.’ He ruled unjustly and was unrighteous and did not live up to his name. Jeremiah 23:1-4 speaks of these leaders like shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep.

Jeremiah prophesied that unrighteous Babylon would defeat Judah the Southern Kingdom and it would be the conquest of the Lord’s people. It was the unthinkable for Judah that God would use pagan Babylon to punish them for their disobedience.

When the Babylonians seized and eventually conquered Jerusalem they exiled King Zedekiah and killed his descendents. The royal line was cut down. It really was like a magnificent tree with nothing left but a stump.

But the message of hope is there because from the stump that is cut off a righteous branch will come. The days are coming,” declares the Lord,  “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely  and do what is just and right in the land.

There was a violent overthrow of Judah and the fall of Zedekiah. It was the end of the line for the Kings of Israel. The royal lineage has been cut down like a tree with only a stump remaining. But a prophecy for what seems only like a dead stump. A shoot will grow from the stump said Isaiah. A righteous branch will be raised up Jeremiah proclaims. Jeremiah speaks the word of the Lord. It is the hope of the Lord’s people, a messiah will come. A righteous ruler. A shepherd that does not scatter the sheep but instead tends them.

This is the name of the coming one, “LORD Our Righteousness”, in Hebrew ‘Jehovah-tsidkenu.’ The coming messiah King from the line of David will be everything their leaders had not. The messiah will be called our righteousness. The meaning is a ‘Right standing” with God.

It took 600 years but the branch came. In the fullness of time a baby was born and a shoot sprang out of what appears to be a dead stump. The righteous branch is Jesus. He is our righteousness. He is the Christ the righteous king foretold by Jeremiah. Through faith in Jesus Christ you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us our righteousness. (1 Corinthians 1:30) Jesus is the righteous one. Our righteousness is in Him. ‘The LORD our Righteousness!’

A lot of what Jeremiah foretold comes clear from Romans 3. Read Romans 3:21-26 with the context of Jeremiah’s prophesy of the Righteous Branch who will be called our righteousness.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

All have sinned. No one is righteous. We are all a spiritual dead stump. Our standing before God is only possible in The Lord our righteousness. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.

For 600 years that kingly line was cut and there was only a stump. The Israelites returned from captivity and rebuilt their temple, but it remained a stump until Jesus the Christ came and died on the cross.

The good news of exceeding great joy for all the people is Jesus Christ is Lord our Righteousness and he came to save sinners. While we were still sinners Christ dies for us righteous for the unrighteousness. Jesus takes our punishment and becomes the LORD Our Righteousness, (‘Jehovah-tsidkenu). Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

This prophecy is for Israel and Judah. The messiah a king from the line of David will come and reign wisely and do what is just and right. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who came not to establish an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom. But it is also importantly a prophecy for every sinner who needs a savior. And from Romans 3:23 we read that is everybody. No one is righteous, no not one. We all need the Lord our Righteousness. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus the LORD Our Righteousness.

 

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