Exeter Temple Message notes: Sunday 29th November 2015
Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
“God never made a promise that was too good to be true” D.L. Moody
“The days are coming when I will fulfil the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 33:14)
Jeremiah delivered this his message when such a possibility seemed the most remote. Israel had had a civil war, the nation was divided, they have been conquered, their land but destroyed and their leadership exiled.
God has already fulfilled his promise to send a Saviour. Jesus said he would die and rise again, send his Holy Spirit upon all kinds of people and he did. He said that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free and millions testify to that experience. When we are uncertain about whether the promises of God that we haven’t yet seen fulfilled will ever be is the truth that there are so many promises that God has already fulfilled and kept.
1. A fallen tree
“At that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line. v15
Trees make for good symbols, they stand for a long time, and many live for a long time. The name of David was synonymous with power, majesty, stability and prosperity. However sometimes something happens to a tree and for whatever reason it is cut down and all that remains is the stump. In the heady days of David’s reign, no one could imagine anything standing in the way of continued success.
“By definition the church like any organisation, is just one generation away from extinction” (Anon)
We might feel we can disagree with this quote in the light of Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” But it needs to be remembered that that the Spirit said to the Ephesian church that if it did not repent he would remove it. “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:5)
The worldwide church will win through but not necessarily individual congregations. However glorious their history, each generation must find its own relationship with God.
David was a man after God’s own heart but his son Solomon although he remained religious did not remain loyal to the worship of the one true God. In each generation instead of the royal tree growing in its relationship with God, the branches were broken off, until all that was left was a stump.
Towards the end of his reign the otherwise good King Hezekiah got fooled into revealing state secrets to Israel’s enemies. When Isaiah found out what had happened he warned Hezekiah that his complacency about security would result in dire consequences for future generations.
Hezekiah’s response was not to plead with God to save them but to say “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” for he thought “will there not be peace and security in my lifetime.” 2 Kings 20:19
His thinking was “as long as it is not in my life-time I do not need to worry.” Surely this is not a godly attitude? It was not an attitude that Jesus had who on the eve of his own death, did not just pray for himself and for the disciples but for us.
“My prayer is not for them alone I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” John 17:20
2. Signs of New Life
“I will make a righteous branch which will sprout from David’s line.” Jeremiah 33:15
“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1
In mentioning Jesse and not David, Isaiah implies that the dignity of the house of David is so diminished that it has fallen to the level at which it stood when it was just the rustic Jesse who bore the honour of the family name
There are things in our lives that seemed to be almost beyond hope but somehow when we thought all was lost, there is a sign of life. In contrast to the dead wood it seems insignificant, almost incidental. However it has life and therefore it has the potential to grow. It is almost unnoticeable at first and only those who are looking really see the possibilities that there are.
The tender shoot reminds us of the way that God often chooses to work. He allows things to start small from seemingly weak an inauspicious beginnings. From these small beginnings great things are grown. The question for us is whether we focus on the dead tree stump or the living green shoot.
The Branch is not about the good times coming again but is a proper name, for a Saviour, a Messiah. The coming of this Branch is not a natural out. It is because God makes it happen.
I will make a righteous branch.” Jeremiah 33:15b
For years this did not look like being fulfilled. By the time of the New Testament the king of Judah was not a descendent of David and was a puppet of Rome. In Nazareth at a time when the line of David was in total obscurity a peasant family who are his descendants have a son and they call him Jesus. Something that at first seems so insignificant, hardly anyone notices is in fact the fulfilment of God’s promise to continue David’s line and save the world.
3. A Glorious Branch
The baby Jesus, was as vulnerable as a new tender shoot but despite incredible danger the baby Jesus survives and grows to become the Branch.
“In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.” Isaiah 4:2
The Righteous Branch is someone who will rule with justice and integrity, Jeremiah 33:15 & Jeremiah 23:5
This is seen in Jesus.
He has authority
Over nature by the changing of water into wine, and calming the sea.
Over evil by casting out demons.
Over sickness and disease by giving sight to the blind, by healing the sick
Over death when he raised people from the dead.
Over sin and death forever by his own resurrection.
He has wisdom.
In the temple (Luke 2:47)
In discussions with scribes who tried to trap him (Matthew 22)
He acts justly
the woman caught in adultery – (John 8:3-1)
the money changers in the temple (Mark 11:1217)
He has personal integrity (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus referred to himself as a tree. “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1)
He referred to his kingdom as a mustard seen that grew into an enormous tree. (Mark4:30-32)
He is the Lord our Righteousness. He finds a way of imparting his righteousness to us.
“Here is the most radical aspect of God. This Branch growing out of the stump of Jesse’s shredded family tree would be put on another dead tree, a cross and from that dead tree blossomed salvation full and free. God can take a sinner like me, dead in my trespasses and sins, dead in spirit, dead to the divine and put a new nature in me, making new what was shrivelled, making alive what was dead, and making time enter all eternity with rejoicing and weeping for joy.” Anon
Alan and Carol