Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet of Israel. He, in chapter 23, gave Israel’s leaders a message from God. He told of shepherds who were destroying and scattering God’s sheep. A shepherd’s job was to love and care for his sheep. The shepherds Jeremiah was talking about were Israel’s priests, responsible for the spiritual life of the people – the sheep. Israel’s priests were false shepherds. These priests, who were supposed to be caring for God’s people were, instead, driving them away from Him. The priests of Israel were corrupt. They were more concerned with their own well being and profit than they were with the spiritual life of the people.
Jeremiah delivered the message that God would not put up with them forever. He went on to prophesize about the coming of the Messiah. God said that He would raise up a righteous Branch – a descendant of David. He would be King and rule wisely and do what is just and right. He would gather God’s people again and He would save Israel. This savior would be called Jehovah -Tsidkenu meaning The Lord Our Righteousness.
In the New Testament of the Bible, in John 10, Jesus talks about false shepherds too. He tells of the difference between the false shepherds and the true shepherd. The false shepherds were there only to steal and kill and destroy. But, in John 10:11, Jesus says that He himself is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Later in 10:18, He says that no one takes His life from Him. He lays it down of His own choice. Jesus is the Righteous Branch that Jeremiah predicted over 600 years previously.
Later, Jesus was crucified on the cross. He laid down His life for us, His people, His sheep. With His death, He paid the price for our sin making us right with God. He became Our Righteousness.
With Jesus as our Righteousness, we can approach the throne of God with confidence. We will find mercy and grace in our time of need, Hebrews 4:16
I have been thinking about sheep lately. They are soft, weak creatures. They are not very smart and are prone to wander off and get lost in areas where they are easy prey for wild animals. Sheep depend on the shepherd to take care of them and to keep them on the right and safe path. People are exactly like sheep. Without the Good Shepherd, we were lost. He gave His life for His sheep.
We are righteous before God because Jesus loved us enough to lay down His life for us.
He is our righteousness. He is Jehovah-Tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness.
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