Day 18

The Righteous Branch of David

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 23:1-40, Jeremiah 24:1-10, Exodus 12:33-38, Colossians 1:13-14

BY Claire Gibson

I’m sitting at my dining room table on the verge of tears. It’s been a good day, really. I slept in, made breakfast for my family, went to the gym, ate a nutritious lunch, and now, the toddler is napping and I’m sitting here, feeling so empty I could cry.

Some modern-day advice-givers would be quick to point out my many blessings; for one, my family is intact and loving toward one another. Other people might try to help by pointing me in the direction of self-help guides, books to help me cope better because people like me shouldn’t be feeling any existential or emotional angst. Still others might remind me that the universe “has my back,” that in the end, everything is going to be okay. But is it? On the surface, my circumstances don’t justify this level of emotion. And yet, I have this sense, deep down, that something is wrong, that even though everything on the surface seems okay, everything on the surface isn’t all there is.

That’s what’s happening in this cryptic chapter of Jeremiah. The people of Israel had been led astray by false teachers—teachers that Scripture likens to “evil shepherds.” These teachers told the people that everything was fine. Even if they lived lives of evil, these teachers promised that God would grant them peace (Jeremiah 23:17). The false teachers encouraged people to persist in their godless actions, and when the people felt the inklings of sadness creep up—sadness that might lead them to repentance—the evil teachers distracted the people with stories of their dreams and false words wrongly attributed to God.

And here’s something important to take away from this passage: God has no patience for people who speak on his behalf, and speak falsely. As I write this devotion that a large community of women from all around the world will read, I should take this warning to heart. Those who attempt to communicate truths from Scripture are held to a high, exacting standard.

Sometimes, a shepherd must strike the sheep with his crook in order to keep the flock together. Sometimes those are acts of mercy. Words of kindness and encouragement have their place. Words of discipline and correction are just as valuable. But I need a doctor that won’t sugarcoat my diagnosis. I need a friend who can look me in the eye and say, “Yes, this sadness that you feel is real, and it’s stemming from the fact that your entire life is structured around serving your own needs and desires, rather than serving others.” I need teachers who will tell me the truth, even when the truth hurts.

We live in a culture that longs for God to be all-merciful, all-healing, all-loving—and He is. And yet, over and over again in Scripture, He uses images like the good and bad figs (Jeremiah 24) to represent the reality that there will come a judgment day when our actions will be measured and weighed. Knowing this, the Lord again provided another way so that one day, His sheep will no longer be afraid or discouraged, nor will any be missing. He declared:

“Look, the days are coming”—this is the LORD’s declaration—
“when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David” (Jeremiah 23:5).

Our lives here matter. Our choices here matter. And when we go astray, our God doesn’t shout orders to us from afar to get us back to where we belong. No, our Savior came to us to provide a way to God the Father. And when we go astray, Christ doesn’t shout that He loves us from afar; He provides a way to God on our behalf, one that stretches between the Father and us. Through Jesus Christ, “he has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14).The end goal isn’t just heaven someday. It’s being close to God right now, today.

Post Comments (82)

82 thoughts on "The Righteous Branch of David"

  1. Dorothy says:

    Claire’s devotional really hit home for me to day. It made me think about what type of friends and acquaintances I hang out with. I have friends who say they are Christians and friends who I know are Christians. What really stood out on this devotional though was in Claire’s last paragraph, “Our lives here matter. Our choices here matter. …The end goal isn’t just heaven someday. It’s being close to God right now, today.” After reading this I had tears in my eyes because it reminded me how much I was loved by my God and Christ. It also made realize the only friends I really need in my corner are God and Christ. Sisters we are blessed to a loving and caring God who will keep taking us back no matter how many times we sin or how often we stray. We are also blessed to have each other and SRT to share and lean on each other with.
    Father in Heaven thank you for sending Your only Son. Thank you for having Him die on the cross for my sins. Thank you for Your written word to learn more about Your love for us. Also, Lord hank you for my sisters and friends through She Reads Truth and those who started it and those who work to keep it going. In your name I pray Amen.

    1. Kacy K. says:

      Dorothy, I was thinking something along the same lines. I have friends that I know don’t walk closely to the Lord, picking and choosing where they want to obey (I’ve been this person before, too). But there’s this part of me that says it’s none of my business, but this reminded me that it is. We have to be truthful with those we love when we know they are headed for disaster. I, too, loved that sentence you quote. It gave me the same reminder that no matter what happens here on this earth that I am loved by God and I belong to Him.

  2. Kelcy Pryor says:

    Dana I’m so sorry for your lost. I lost my father when I was very little and it’s so hard but we have a father who loves us and gives us peace and strength to overcome anything. Stay strong and pray, I’ll be praying for you❤️

  3. Kelcy Pryor says:

    I think (correct me if I’m wrong) that God used the fig referenced to uplift Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 24:6-7 I think he knew how down and overwhelmed he must of been from people trying to kill him and mock him. He knew he needed a little hope to keep in going, that later in life he will help those he sent away.

  4. Elle says:

    Amen, Claire! Your words are always a blessing to me!

  5. Churchmouse says:

    So much doom and gloom in Jeremiah and rightfully so given the numerous sins of Israel. But there is comfort also. “Look, the days are coming” was surely an encouragement, a ray of sunshine in the midst of all the darkness. So too for us. There is much darkness in this world and we know it’s only going to get worse. We’ve read the Book. But there are golden promises shining brightly. Wrongs will be made right. Suffering will end. There will be no more tears. The days of complete restoration are coming. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus will reign victorious. Glory is coming!

    1. Jessica McIlhenny says:

      Amen! He has overcome!

    2. Monica Hailey says:

      Times such as these focus our attention toward the source of that complete restoration. It is therefore a blessing and I am reminding myself of that when fear or worry try to steal my thought space.

  6. Calli Chambers says:

    Dana, I am praying for you ♡

  7. Courtney says:

    May you and your family feeling the loving and comforting arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during this difficult time. I am praying for you.

  8. Cera says:

    Needed to be reminded of this today. I’m struggling to hold Jesus close as my mother continues to battle a rare cancer. It’s been almost a year and a half and we are loosing hope and faith in this fight. In the process I have noticed how distant I have become from God. I want to numb and shield myself. Fortunately I am very involved in church, especially in leading worship, and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit in those moments. Asking for prayer to feel Jesus again, to want Him again.

    1. Stephanie Dietz says:

      Praying for you Cara. It’s so hard when you become numb, it distances you. I understand you feeling that way. Praying that your eyes will be opened to just how close God is. Just reach out to him, no matter how distant or numb you feel- keep reaching. He is right next to you.

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