Christ Lutheran Church of the Deaf
Silver Spring, Maryland
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Jeremiah, the reluctant prophet

The Righteous Branch of Dave
Rev. Ron Friedrich
October 1, 2006

Jeremiah 33:14-17 (NIrV)
14 "A new day is coming," announces the Lord. "At that time my gracious promise to my people will come true. I made it to the people of Israel and the people of Judah.

15 "In those days and at that time
      I will make a true and rightful Branch grow from David's royal line.
      He will do what is fair and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved.
      Jerusalem will live in safety.
   And it will be called
      The Lord Who Makes Us Right With Himself."

17 The Lord says, "David will always have a son to sit on the throne of the nation of Israel."

Imagine:  You have a big tree.  It lived for many years.  But now the tree is old and damaged.  It is time to cut the tree down.  

After the tree cutters leave, all that is left is a wide stump.  That is all that is left of the great tree... well, not exactly. 

In the ground the roots of the tree are still living.   And soon you see a new tree growing up from the roots of the old tree.  One day that new tree will be bigger and taller than the old tree that you cut down.

That is the picture God gives to us through Jeremiah.

King David's family ruled in southern Israel (Judah) for over 500 years.  But when God sent Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, He cut down David's family tree.   They were finished being kings of Israel... well, not exactly.

The "roots" of David's family tree were God's blessing and promise.  God told David:

"I tell you that I myself will set up a royal house for you... Your royal house and your kingdom will last for ever in my sight.  Your throne will last forever."  (2 Samuel 7:11,16 NIrV)

And that blessing, that promise still lived, even after the family tree was cut down.

And from that promise grew a "branch" (King Jesus) that became taller and bigger than the original "tree" (King David).

God gave this picture to Jeremiah at the same time that God told Jeremiah that He would bring Israel back from Babylon.   This is important.  Why?   Because when God sent Israel to Babylon, God was not finished with Israel.   God's plan for Israel was much greater than the politics and religion of that time.  God had an eternal plan for Israel that touches us, even today.   God's plan was to bring us the Savior through Israel.

That promise started even in the Garden of Eden,
    when God told our first parents
        that the Descendant from the woman
            would crush the Serpent's head.  (Genesis 3:15)

God repeated that promise to Abraham.  (Genesis 22:18)

One thousand years later,
    God repeated the promise to David. (2 Samuel 7:16)

Then during the next 400 years,
    God repeated the promise often through the prophets.

And as God sent Israel off to slavery in Babylon, that promised still lived.

Christ's coming and our salvation was the reason God continued working with Israel.

Question:  Why did God wait so long?

When God gave the first promise of the Savior to our first parents,
    why didn't He send Jesus to us right away?

My answer to that question:  I don't know.
This is one of the biq questions that we can ask Him in Heaven.  But I can't promise He will answer.
When God made His plans, He didn't ask my advice.

Galatians 4:4 says,  "But when the right time came, God sent His Son."

God's plan for Israel was an ETERNAL plan.  God was not finished with Israel, and God is never finished with you.  He has for you an eternal plan:  Heaven!

God sent Israel to captivity in Babylon to learn some lessons about their relationship with Him.  For 1000 years they "played religion" with God, but they did not really love Him.  They did not honor Him.  They did not worship Him.  They did not believe Him.  They did not trust Him.

Question:  When Israel returned from their captivity, did they finally understand God's plan?  Did they learn the lessons God wanted them to learn in Babylon?  When God finally fulfilled His plan by sending the Savior, did they welcome Him?

Answer:  In Babylon, Israel only learned half of their lessons.  They learned the lessons of the Law.  Never again did they have a problem with idol worship.  They made up strict rules to protect them from ever breaking the first three of the Ten Commandments:
    "You must not have any other Gods..."
    "You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God."
    "Keep the sabbath day holy."

But they didn't learn their lessons about grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  The old prophet's message of Gospel -- Good News of God's Love -- that went right past their eyes and ears.  They still didn't understand the original plan and purpose for the Savior. 

What lesson can we learn from their experience?

It is God's love and forgiveness that makes us holy.  The law never did.  Works of the Law never could make us holy (Jeremiah 31:31-23, Romans 3; Romans 7; Galatians).  The Law shows us that we are sinners, that we can't fix ourselves.  God's great love carries our sins away, crucifies & buries them with Christ.  God forgives us completely in Christ Jesus. 

And God is not finished with us yet.  As long as we live and breath on this earth, God still has a plan.  He works with us.  He works through us, bringing the Savior to the world.