Saturday, March 26, 2016

out of dead ground, the Branch

The Word for today:
Jeremiah 23
mark these: Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:14-16
"The Branch" is one of the Bible's most meaningful poetic and prophetic images of Jesus. We will meet "the Branch" by name in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and Matthew. And we will recognize his likeness throughout scripture.
To understand the Branch, we have to understand the crucial prophesy in 2 Samuel 7. There, the LORD promises that one of David's descendants will rule forever.
Soon, however, David's "family tree" falls. The glorious days of the kingdom under David and Solomon dissolve into sin, civil war, idolatry, and exile to Babylon.
But though the "tree" had fallen, with no sign of it remaining, there was still life in the roots! That's the meaning of Isaiah 11:1, where Jesse--David's father--is mentioned:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him--
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
The Branch, sprouting from what seemed a dead stump, is a vivid picture of resurrection--life out of death--which we first saw when Aaron's dead staff blossomed (Numbers 17).
Jeremiah emphasizes that the Branch will become our righteousness!--
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'" (Jeremiah 33:14-16; see also Jeremiah 23:5-6)
This was fulfilled when Jesus, Son of David (see Luke 18:38) died on the cross. In doing so, He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Thus, the two great promises from the Old Testament converge in the Branch--
1. The promise of a Deliverer through David;
2. and the promise to Abraham of righteousness through faith:
Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6)
We hope that as you read the Bible you will come to recognize the Branch, who came forth just when all seemed lost:
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed. 
(Isaiah 53:2-5)
Just when all seemed lost, when no sign of life remained, Jesus--the Promise to Abraham, the Son of David, the LORD our righteousness--came to life out of a still tomb. What looked to be dead, as dead as Aaron's staff, had blossomed forth as the living Branch.

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