Who’s Your Daddy?

Jeremiah 23:1-8

23Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.

5 The days are surely coming, says 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. 6In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

7 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt’, 8but ‘As the Lord lives who brought out and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.’ Then they shall live in their own land.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Ancestry.com has become quite the thing these days. With advances in DNA testing one can readily learn about his or her family tree. Perhaps you always believed your ancestors came from northern Europe. Now you might very well find out that they came from southern Europe. Who would’ve guessed?

Ancestry was quite the thing for Israel too. Recall that God had promised to make Abraham and Sarah ancestors of a numerous people so that they might be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:1-9). While it’s clear God was committed to seeing his family tree grow, it wasn’t so clear God’s people were committed to this. Therefore, God called Jeremiah to speak a word of truth to the people of Judah. The trouble was that the prophet Jeremiah had something not so nice to say about God’s family tree—a tree with lineage going all the way back to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, to name a few. In so many words, Jeremiah told the kings, priests, and prophets of Judah that they were threatening to chop down the family tree because of their unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. Under their misguided leadership the people of Judah had turned to worship other gods and failed to keep the covenant God outlined in the Ten Commandments. Most sinister of all, Judah’s leaders, a.k.a. shepherd-kings, had not faithfully protected and cared for God’s people.  As a consequence, Jeremiah warned that God would permit the destruction of Jerusalem, the city upon which the family tree was rooted; but the people of Judah would not listen to him.

Sure enough, Jeremiah’s words came to pass. God allowed the people of Judah to be conquered by King Nebuchadnezzar, scattered, and exiled from Jerusalem. Their new home would be in a foreign land called Babylon. As Jeremiah had warned, the family tree would be uprooted, broken, and unable to branch out in blessing to others.

To a despairing, exiled, and shattered family, Jeremiah also spoke words of good news. He proclaimed that God will one day raise up a righteous branch in the line of David. This shepherd-king will do what the other shepherd-kings failed to do. He will be the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11); one who will execute God’s justice and righteousness. This shepherd-king will restore Israel and Judah to their homeland where they will live in safety.

Today we believe that the family tree has been replanted, rooted at the foot of the cross, and raised with a righteous branch in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as God promised Abraham and Sarah, their descendants are as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand upon the earth. This is so all people on earth might know who’s their Daddy—the God of Israel. Who would’ve guessed?