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. Cara Pond says:

    Dana: Praying for peace on you and over you for your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s 80 years or 28 years, grief hurts. Our 28-year old daughter was murdered last August. She was a “bystander in a neighbors quarrel.” I can tell you that my quiet time with the Lord in the early mornings since that awful day last August has really helped. God is carrying us through this horrific time and I pray he does the same for you. We may never know this side of heaven the why, but knowing that He is always here for us makes it a little more bearable.

  2. Shawna Hawkins says:

    Amazing to me that the Lord allowed this to be our reading at this crazy , frenzied time in our world! He always sends us the words and direction when we need it!!

    1. Fleur Bragaglia says:

      Totally agree!

  3. Rachel Mayor says:

    He gives us a heart to know Him. What a beautiful gift. May we lean into Him each day because today matters.

  4. Katherine Lopez says:

    I’m starting a discipleship study with a young lady, a new believer. I pray for the wisdom to know how to guide, teach, and encourage, and when to point out sin. I’m tempted to focus on God as simply loving and gentle, but he hates the sin in us just as much as he did when we were lost, if not more. God is uprooting sin in my life too, and I need his grace and forgiveness every day.

  5. J Collins says:

    My GOD…. this was mighty. As a clinician I see people at their best and at their worst, but it is so easy for me to tell them to feel the emotions, work through the pain, trust yourself through it…. but when it is my turn, I can’t. The loneliness, the sadness, and the despair is so heavy that I often forget to feel and work through ignoring or obtaining distractions. I love the transparency Dana shared as it is difficult at times to really focus on the good we have because of the sorrow. I have found myself very much so aligned with the text of Jeremiah, wondering what else can I do Lord!

  6. Parasa says:

    Let’s look at God for our redemption and forgiveness.

  7. Andrea Atkinson says:

    Prayers to you Dana! May you feel the peace of the Lord during this difficult time. Xoxo

  8. Bridgette Alvarez says:

    I’m praying for all of you who have lost love ones. It’s been a little over 5 months since I lost my husband. It’s not easy. I cry every day but it comforting to know that I serve a God who is near (Jeremiah 23:23) and He is over every storm and heart ache. Keep your eye on Jesus. He is able.

    1. Jane K says:

      Bridgette thank you for sharing about your loss. Losing a spouse must be so hard. Praying that God continues to stay close to you and gives His peace.

    2. Monica Hailey says:

      May God comfort you!

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