Heart Prep for Sunday, March 3rd
Well, this week we have another long stretch of Jeremiah (there will be a lot of those over the coming months) where the Lord compares and contrasts the Kings of Judah. Using the prophet Jeremiah, He calls out specific kings and states how they have fallen short of what he expects of a king. And yet the criticisms the Lord levels, although harsh, are surprisingly common. They are criticisms that could be made against most of us at one time or another. But there's Good News! Our passage (Jeremiah 21:1-23:8) ends with one of the great messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. God says He will step in and give us "a righteous branch." Now, that may not sound too exciting now, but hopefully, once we see the full context and intended meaning, it will become exciting for you.
And why is that? You see, we live in a society that is constantly urging us to work hard and get ahead, and it the same time, is constantly trying to persuade us that whatever good may come into our lives, we deserve. We've earned it, we worked for it, we deserve it, and it's our "right" to have it (notice how everything is a "right" today). Of course, once it becomes a "right" then we no longer have to work for it ... so we stop working hard because we have the "right" to have it. We deserve it just because we're so great. Well, the people of Judah thought in much the same way. For a while, they wanted God to give them all good things because they worked really hard at being righteous. They thought they deserved it. Then they stopped being righteous but still thought God should give them all good things. Just because.
But along came this bothersome prophet, Jeremiah, who no one likes, to tell them that they deserve nothing. Despite their claims, they never really worked hard at being righteous. They never deserved any good thing God had given them. Whatever they had was only due to God's grace and mercy. And nothing's changed. And now God's going to make that clear to them. And they will get actually what they deserve. They'll get sent into exile. But God promises them a gift -- "a righteous branch." And a gift is never deserved so they won't be able to take any credit for it. So just what is this gift? And why is it so valuable? Let's find out together this Sunday. See you there! Dr. Dave