“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
For much of the western world, the lights are coming down, the tree is packed up for another year, and many of the toys and goodies are left discarded in the recesses of our homes. Why? Why is it that we so anticipate the Christmas season, and then so quickly move on to another hope, a new year with its promises and brightness?
I think for many, the reason is that they still have not wrestled with what Christmas truly means. Oh sure, they celebrate a baby born in a manger, a wondrous tale of how much God loves us. But the one thought that is not on the minds of many is sin. We’ve been hoodwinked into thinking that all we have to do is try a little harder to be good. A little self-motivation will go a long way in remedying our faults. And besides, we reason, we’re only human after all.
So we promote a work’s righteousness based on our behavior, tell our children they better be good or they won’t get all the toys and goodies loaded on Santa’s sleigh. And then Christmas morning comes and all is merry and bright. I guess I am good enough!
But what if we really understood why Jesus came. That people live in darkness, and rather enjoy it. That we needed not a cute fairy tale to keep us going, but God in the flesh to come and rescue and redeem us! And a king who would rule over us, always working in us that which is good and pleasing in His sight.
And guess what? That is exactly what we have! This promise in the book of Jeremiah is one of those places in the Old Testament that explicitly points forward to the coming of Jesus. A righteous branch from the line of David, a picture of Jesus, come from the line of David, come to reign as king. Think about all those kings in the Old Testament who didn’t rule wisely, who didn’t rule with justice in the land.
God promised an unrighteous people (that’s US) that He would send a King to be their righteousness. By God’s grace, in Christ, we find rest for our souls. Not just any king, but King of kings and Lord of lords.
And God promised there was coming a day when there would be a perfect king who will deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness in the land, and he will bring salvation. In his days Judah will be saved. Israel will dwell securely. Salvation and security are promised. That promise means that I am grasped firmly in the Savior’s hand, and none that the Father has given to him will he lose! He is so great that his name will be “the Lord is our righteousness.”
What a picture. God says to an unrighteous people, I will be your righteousness. I’m going to send a king who will be righteous for you, who will be your righteousness. This passage just points us powerfully to Jesus in a way that causes us to rest securely in his salvation today and his righteousness today.
There is no king like Jesus who brings salvation, who brings security, who is righteousness for us. As one of my favorite Christmas hymns reminds us:
Gentle Mary laid her child lowly in a manger,
He is still the Undefiled, but no more a stranger.
Son of God my humble birth, beautiful the story;
Praise his name in all the earth, hail the King of glory!
Won’t you bow before this King today confess your sins to Him, knowing that He has taken the sins of His people upon himself, and bestows upon all who look to Him in faith His righteousness.