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2018 Advent Devotional – Day 17

The Righteous Branch


Read Jeremiah 23:1-8

We have all heard or even experienced our fair share of bad leadership, both in secular or Christian circles. We sometimes think of bad leadership as those who may have committed crimes, such as embezzling funds or sexual assaults, but most bad leadership are much more insidious than that. A bad leader could be someone who is only interested in their own self or someone who exploits others for their own monetary gain. Leaders in the church are held to an even higher standard, and God often reserves his harshest judgements upon those who are supposed to be leading his people. Today’s passage is an example of that.

We covered the Davidic covenant two days ago in 2 Samuel 7:8-14. Over the next few days, we will look at some of the prophecies in the Prophets that speak about this promise. In our passage today, God pronounces judgement upon the supposed shepherds who are “destroying and scattering the sheep of [his pasture].” (v1) He describes what they have done as “evil” (v2). This is an important point for us to remember – bad leadership in the church that drives people away from God is evil.

God promises to gather his people back to their land and place leaders over them who will lead them (v3-4). What kind of leadership should we expect? God will “raise up for David a righteous branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (v5) A king who reigns wisely and do what is right should be what we expect of a leader, isn’t it? What is unique about this king is that this will be a king from David’s line of descendants. Notice further on what this Davidic king will be called: Yahweh our Righteous Saviour. (The small capital letters for “Lord” in your Bibles refers to Yahweh.) That’s a remarkable title for a king. Not only will this king be from the Davidic line, this king will be God himself.

What is more is that this anticipated king will be involved in a second “Exodus” of God’s people. God’s people will no longer talk about the time where God brought the Israelites up out of Egypt, because they will instead talk about the time when he will once again rescue them out of exile. So, this anticipated Davidic king will be the one who will bring about this second “Exodus” in the future. How can a mere human king achieve all this? How can this Davidic king be human and God at the same time? As Christians today, we are incredibly blessed by God because we know the answer to those questions lie in the miracle and awesome wonder of Christmas.

That baby born in the manger is the anticipated king who has saved his people out of the dominion of darkness into his kingdom. (cf. Col 1:13) He reigns with wisdom and righteousness over the church. True leadership within the church then is pointing God’s people to this faithful “Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet 5:2-4) and not to themselves. True leadership helps God’s people to follow King Jesus better and not themselves. True leadership ultimately points away from themselves unto Jesus Christ – the Lord our Righteous Saviour. Here are two questions for your reflection: Are you following a leader like that? Are you leading those around you in that same way towards Jesus Christ?

  • Thank God for good Christian leaders in our lives that helped us follow Jesus better
  • Pray for those churches who have experienced bad leadership to recover from that and look to Christ once again