Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Jeremiah 23:5-8 shows a fundamental shift in the concept of God’s deliverance. It’s one we would do well to wrap our heads around. In the day when God raises up the “righteous Branch” (v. 5), the one Christians understand to be Jesus, we begin thinking of God’s rescue not from something but rather to something.
The people of Israel were always focused on the Exodus. God rescued His people out of Egypt. He brought them across the Red Sea, out of the place of bondage, away from the tyranny of the Egyptians. This was the theme of cultural unification for all of Israel. They were the people who had been taken out, for whom the Exodus had happened.
In the day Jeremiah speaks of, the people are no longer focused on being taken out of bondage in Egypt, but on being brought into the place of promise. This message would speak very clearly to Jeremiah’s original audience. As we recall, Jeremiah was a prophet working in Jerusalem after it had been occupied by the Babylonians. The city was in ruins, it was surrounded by hostile forces, it was full of famine and disease. The city of God was in shambles. And at that time, Jeremiah, looking to the future, said God would raise up the branch of David, the one who would sit on the throne in the eternal kingdom God promised to David. This one, whom Christians identify as Jesus, would bring the people into the land where they belong, out of all the countries where they were before.
Christianity, as described especially in Acts, draws people from all nations together, placing them into a new fellowship, a new nation, if you will. They have landed, through Christ, in His kingdom. It’s the place where they belong.
Christians, then, look to Christ as the one who rescues them from the bondage of sin and evil, but more than that, they look to Christ as the one who places them into His righteousness, His peace, the fellowship with one another, the community of faith, and the eventual promise of an eternal home. We see Jesus as the one who brings us TO something, much more than the one who brings us FROM something. In this, Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled. God gathers His people into the kingdom of the righteous Branch of David. He calls all nations together into this eternal kingdom, the kingdom of His loving deliverance.
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