Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. — Jeremiah 23:5
Throughout the history of mankind, power and corruption have often gone hand in hand. In 1788, James Madison wrote, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Madison wrote these words in an article trying to convince people to adopt the then new United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Constitution was to have a series of “checks and balances” to prevent the national government or any person in it from becoming too powerful. Madison believed that unrestrained power could lead to corruption.
In Jeremiah’s time, the leaders of Judah were corrupt. In today’s text, Jeremiah pronounced the judgment of God against King Jeconiah as well as the evil priests and prophets. They had let the power they were given corrupt their thoughts, believing that they could do whatever they pleased and still have God’s help when they desired.
These people had the instructions from Moses and the Law, as well as good examples from previous leaders who had believed and trusted God, such as David, Hezekiah, and others. They also had inspiration and guidance from prophets such as Samuel, Amos, Joel, Isaiah, and finally Jeremiah. Tragically, they chose to ignore all those good examples and God-given instruction. As a result, the terrible judgments Jeremiah foretold came to pass, and King Jeconiah and the other ungodly leaders were exiled to Babylon when the Chaldeans captured and eventually destroyed Jerusalem.
However, as shown in the focus verse, Jeremiah also revealed that someday a truly righteous King would come to gather His people and protect and provide for them. When He rules the earth, He will rise above any corruption in spite of His infinite power. This One will be a descendant of King David; His reign will be characterized by justice. He will gather the Jews from all countries and provide for and protect them. This gathering will be more remarkable than the Israelites being led from slavery in Egypt and brought into the Promised Land.
Today, we have the privilege of living in the Kingdom of this Divine Ruler. Although this prophecy of Jeremiah’s has not yet been physically fulfilled in the world, there is a spiritual kingdom where Jesus reigns. By asking God to forgive us of our sins and truly turning away from them, we can be born again. Then He will protect and provide for us. He will reign over our hearts in righteousness.
Concluding the ninth sermon, the final verses of chapter 22 are messages about Jehoiachin, and the first part of chapter 23 was addressed to the rulers of Judah. Chapter 24 also gives a Messianic prophesy which extended hope for the future.
Jehoiachin (also called Coniah and Jeconiah) became king after his father Jehoiakim. A king’s signet ring (verse 24) was his symbol of authority and was used to stamp official documents. God was saying that although Jehoiachin had been valuable to Him, the king would be removed from reigning. After ruling only three months, Jehoiachin surrendered to the Chaldeans. He, his family (including his mother), and ten thousand others were exiled to Babylon, where he died.
Verse 28 may be the cry of the Jewish people regarding Jehoiachin, but God said, “Write ye this man childless” (verse 30), meaning that none of his descendants would reign in Judah. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah (Josiah’s son and Jehoiachin’s uncle) the king, but Jehoiachin outlived Zedekiah. Thus, upon Jehoiachin’s death, there was no longer a king of the line of David.
Jeremiah 23:1-8 is another message to the rulers of Judah. The pastors — kings, political and religious leaders, and false prophets — had led the people away from God, and judgment was coming. However, Jeremiah also gave a prophecy of hope. A remnant of the Jewish people would be gathered again to their own land. This prophecy was first fulfilled when the exiles returned from Babylon after seventy years. The complete fulfillment of this passage will transpire during the Millennium.
The prophet said one day there would be another king in David’s line, “a righteous Branch,” which looked ahead to the time of Christ. The word branch could be translated “sprout” or “shoot,” such as comes from the root of a tree after it has been cut down. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy because his mother, Mary, was in the lineage of David through his son Nathan (rather than through Solomon, as the kings were). Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was in the lineage of Jehoiachin, tying him to the Davidic dynasty, but not contradicting Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding Jehoiachin. When Jesus comes back to reign on the earth for a thousand years, the prophecies of this passage will be fully realized.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
9. The ninth sermon: Against Judah’s kings
d. The message against Jehoiachin (22:24-30)
e. The future restoration by a righteous King (23:1-8)
We want to be a part of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom today and have Him as the King of our lives. He is the Leader we can trust in completely.