Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Promise of His Coming (15)

Do you ever find that we're hard at hearing, bad at believing and fail in faith? A promise has been made, but then, as circumstances fall down around us it looks as if the promise was in vain? A promise may appear to be just hot air as disappointment and despair set in.

The people of Jerusalem certainly knew that experience as all the promises to the patriarchs and kings seemed to be dissolving around them. God had promised descendants, land and blessing to Abraham, and a descendant on the throne of David forever. Since then, the nation has fallen apart - with the separation of Israel and Judah; Israel has already fallen to the Assyrians, and now, Judah has fallen to Babylon and many of the Lord's people have been taken into exile. Far from home, far from the promises.

The prophet Jeremiah ministers in this very situation, writing to the exiles and preaching to those who remain in the land, who may as well be in exile, under their new vassal ruler. In chapter 33, God reaffirms his earlier promises through the mouth of Jeremiah:

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.' (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

The promise is for both Israel and Judah, the two kingdoms both now in exile, that they will be reunited as one in God's kingdom. That kingdom will be under the kingship of the righteous Branch - in contrast to all the previous kings, whose wickedness (as well as the peoples') had led to the exile in the first place.

The key to the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of Judah lies in the name of Jerusalem - the Lord is our righteousness. Sinful Jerusalem counted as righteous, and all through this righteous Branch. God has not forgotten his promises, and is fulfilling them according to his timescale, but Jeremiah's words are an encouragement to continue to believe even when the promise doesn't look likely.

Come, o righteous Branch!

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