“Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.
“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 is our righteousness.’
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.””
Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, northeast of Jerusalem, around 627 BC. He was called by God as a boy to be a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah during its final years. He proclaimed the word of the Lord under the last five kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiachin (Coniah), and Zedekiah. Josiah, you recall, was a good king who tried to reform the nation after finding the old book of the covenant in the temple (2 Kings 22, 23). But the rest of the kings were not good. Jeremiah 21:11–22:30 is a collection of oracles in which Jeremiah spoke from the Lord against these kings. I want us to look at this whole unit, because it all leads up to the prophecy of the coming king in Jeremiah 23:1–8.
Jeremiah had prophesied how the last few shepherds had left Judah totally devastated and misled. These kings were judged and the end of Jewish monarchy ended with the exile of King Zedekiah. However, God did not allow it to end on a bad note but continue to surprise us with hope! Jeremiah prophesied of the righteous branch who would come to lead His people righteously and justly. This righteous branch is Jesus the Messiah. He will be the One who saves.
1) He will shepherd His people!
The righteous branch will shepherd His people again. The promise of God comes through at the end. In spite of the exile; in spite of suffering and abandonment, God will once again shepherd His people. He is our Lord and our Salvation!
2) He will rule wisely and righteously!
God’s leading is always true and just. He will act justly and righteously. Jesus leads us in righteousness and not to follow after the ways of this world. Let Him lead you today and submit under His wise leadership!
3) He will bring salvation to all!
Salvation can come by no other name except through Jesus! Even after the people had returned from Babylon, they only see a partial fulfilment of the word of Jeremiah.
“Nothing has happened, since Jeremiah spoke those words, which can be called their final fulfillment. The return after the Babylonian exile was a partial fulfillment; and the establishment of modern Israel and the return of many Jews to that land today is, I believe, also a partial fulfillment….Zionism without Christ is idolatry. The attempt of Israel to fulfill the first half of Jeremiah’s prophecy without submission to the second half is insurrection against the king.”
– John Piper –
Therefore, a rejection of Jesus to fulfil the prophecy of Jeremiah is a rejection of the salvation promised through the Messiah. Let us remember that God sent His Son to redeem us from all unrighteousness.
Lord, thank you for sending Your Son to be our righteousness. Let us live with the hope You have given to us through Jesus. Bless my brothers and sisters in Christ to trust in the Good Shepherd and the righteous branch of God. In Jesus’ Name, amen!
*All scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) bible.
Christopher Ho was formerly a FES (Fellowship of Evangelical Students) staff-worker and has been involved with campus ministries ever since he graduated from Singapore Polytechnic in 1995. He serves as a children and youth pastor in our Chinese congregation. Married with three children, Christopher is passionate about reaching and discipling young people both locally and overseas.
Exodus 35:4-5, 20-29 ESV
“Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord ’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze;
Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord ’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord ’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.”
When Moses approached the Israelites to step up and give towards the making of the tabernacle, the people of God responded with generosity and eagerness! Those with gold, silver, fabric, metal, acacia wood gave generously! Even those with talents were stirred and served passionately in weaving and making of the tabernacle and clothing. The work of God must be done by willing hearts! The spirit of the Lord was touching hearts to give towards the things of God. Let us learn to give towards kingdom matters. Do not be a miser towards God’s Kingdom. Let your heart be stirred to give with a willing heart today!
1) Let your hearts be stirred!
The scriptures repeated a few times that the hearts of the people were stirred and they gave generously. Let our hearts be stirred into the things of God! Let there be a stirring inside us to give towards what God has put on our hearts. That doesn’t mean blind giving. God does not want us to give blindly or unwisely. Learn to give as the Lord leads. There are needs everywhere, sow into the right place and wait upon God for the right way.
2) Use your skills and talents!
Be willing to use your skills and talents to serve in the house of God. All the women whose hearts were stirred use their gifts to make garments and canvases for the tabernacle. Be willing to use your skills and talents for the purpose of God. When you are talented or gifted, you will either be used by the world or by God. Let God use you and be willing to commit fully towards the Mission of God.
3) Give as a free will offering to the Lord!
Let what you give become an offering of worship to God. The people were stirred because they knew that what they were offering was going to the tabernacle. Let all that you offer become a delightful worship to God. Do not become calculative but be willing to sow into the work of the Kingdom. God is no man’s debtor, He will reward those who earnestly seek Him.
Lord, thank you for reminding me that I need a willing heart in order to give and to serve. Without that, it is difficult to keep going. While there is a limit to what I can do, there is always something I can do.
Lord, teach me to see where You are leading and give as my heart is stirred and moved. Let me sow into the right place as you lead us into the nations. Bless my brothers and sisters to have willing hearts to serve!
Christopher Ho was formerly a FES(Fellowship of Evangelical Students) staff-worker and has been involved with campus ministries ever since he graduated from Singapore Polytechnic in 1995. He serves as a children and youth pastor in our Chinese congregation. Married with three children, he is passionate about reaching and discipling young people both locally and overseas.
Not for your own needs but for the house of God!
2 Kings 12:4-8 NLT
One day King Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money brought as a sacred offering to the LORD’s Temple, whether it is a regular assessment, a payment of vows, or a voluntary gift. Let the priests take some of that money to pay for whatever repairs are needed at the Temple.” But by the twenty-third year of Joash’s reign, the priests still had not repaired the Temple. So King Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why haven’t you repaired the Temple? Don’t use any more money for your own needs. From now on, it must all be spent on Temple repairs.” So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple.
King Joash was a good king who grew up in the Lord’s temple. He was passionate for God and saw practical needs to repair the temple and gave instructions for the priests to carry out the repairs. However, his priests did not take his instructions seriously but procrastinated. This was because the priests also live on what was given and collected. Similarly, full time ministers live on the collections and donations of the church members, together with the maintenance of the church premises. However, we need to realize that all of us are involved in the giving and building of the house of God! Let us be of one heart to give time, money and effort towards the costs and causes of Kingdom ministry!
1) See the needs beyond yourself!
After Joash reprimanded the priests, they decided to see needs beyond their own and gave entirely for the repairs of the temple! So often, people are not willing to give because they are not able to see beyond themselves! When we only see our needs, our problems become bigger! Learn to see the needs of others and give in spite of having little. When you sow into the Kingdom of God, there is a joy and freshness that comes with meeting the needs of others!
2) Set aside resources for Kingdom purposes!
Jehoiada decided to take a chest and set beside the altar for people to give specifically for the repairs of the temple! A building fund was started for the sole purpose of setting aside resources to repair the temple! Learn to set aside finances and resources for God. When every part of the body is willing to give, the result is tremendous!
3) Serve with your gifts as a team!
The priests were not burdened to do the repairs but they started to engage people with the right skills to do so. They “agreed to let others take the responsibility for repairing the Temple”. The church belongs to the people! The responsibility to care for it lies in everyone, not just the priests or the elders of the church. Every one has a part and plays an important role! Some people sees church as a place to get rather than to give. I believe it’s both! The community gives and takes, we equip the saints and serve one another with the gifts God has given us! Learn to participate rather than spectate in church this year!
Lord, thank You for reminding me that I must continue to set aside funds for missions, church building, ministries so that I can see beyond my own needs and participate in giving to Your kingdom purposes! Help me give what I can even though it’s not a lot. Thank You for reminding me that it’s not the amount but it’s the attitude! Bless my bros n sis to see beyond their own needs!
In Jesus’ Name, amen.