Today’s leaders promise hope and change only to deliver corruption and scandal. We elect bright promising outsiders who go to Washington and immediately become insiders. They cease fighting for the ideals they promised in the campaign and start fighting to keep themselves in power. Who can make things right? Who will help us out of this mess?
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
Jeremiah 23:1-8 divides into three sections:
- 23:1-4 – condemns the shepherds who have corrupted God’s flock
- 23:5-6 – promise the coming of an ideal king
- 23:7-8 – promise a new exodus that will be greater than the first
Woe to the Shepherds
- The word “woe” introduces an oracle of judgment.
- Shepherds are suppose to 1) keep the sheep together so none of them get lost, and 2) protect the sheep from danger and predators.
- Compare with Ezekiel 34:1-6.
- The shepherds of Judah failed in both responsibilities: they have scattered and destroyed the sheep.
- But God will intervene and send new shepherds, including one in particular.
The Righteous King
- “Days are coming” is a very general phrase with no time indication.
- 23:5 emphasizes the person of the Messiah
- 23:6 emphasizes what life will be like in the Messianic age.
- There is a sense in which the leaders scattered the sheep by failing in their responsibilities (23:1).
- There is another sense in which the Lord scattered the sheep by judging them for their rebellion (23:3).
- The failure of our human leaders prepares us for the Lord to intervene.
The New Exodus
- Putting the same people with the same problem with sin back in the same land with the same kind of leaders will result in the same rebellion. We need a new and better hope and God promises it.
- The Lord promises a new and different kind of shepherd, one who will rule with justice and righteousness.
- Before the exile, the standard of salvation was God redeeming His people from Egypt. Israel was the people who crossed over the Red Sea.
- After the return from exile, the new standard of salvation was God who gathered His people from exile. Israel was the people who came back from exile.
- But after the death and resurrection of Christ, we have a new standard of salvation. We are people of the cross.
- It’s okay to admit the failure of our leaders.
- The failure of our human leaders prepares us for the intervention of the Lord.
- The Lords intervenes by sending a true Shepherd who will restore justice and rule wisely.
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Part of the series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Study Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
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