Jeremiah 23:5-6 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.”
The context of this statement is Jeremiah’s denouncing of Israel’s shepherds who failed to shepherd, leaders who failed to lead, and prophets who ‘imagined’ the ideas of their own minds instead of being faithful to God’s revealed truth.
Jeremiah’s declaration of the LORD’s intention to ‘raise up to David a righteous Branch’ is therefore significant. David was the model Shepherd-King who knew how to lead wisely, and who knew how to look after his flock carefully and sacrificially. And calling his promised descendant a ‘righteous BRANCH’ shows not only his place in David’s line but also his function in the imagery of Israel as God’s special ‘VINE’.
This ‘Branch’ is referred to by other OT prophets (Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Zechariah 6:12) and its ultimate significance is spelt out by Jesus himself in John 15, where he says in verses 5-8: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
How encouraging it is to know that Jesus is our wise King who will lead us well, our kind Shepherd who will care for us in every situation, and the true Vine by whom we can live useful, fruitful lives – and that God had planned all this for us from the foundation of the world. And what a blessing it is for us, who live in an age when secular humanism is so effectively spreading its false ‘gospel’ through the media, that we have God’s infallible revealed truth in his written Word – or, as the Apostle Peter says, “we have the word of the prophets made more certain” (2 Peter 1:19) – so that we can test every worldview confronting us by the Scriptures themselves. Let us follow the example of the Christians in Berea who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
– Bruce Christian