The kings over God’s nation were called “shepherds.” Sadly, the leaders misused their positions of trust. They did not guide the Lord’s flock in the direction of righteousness and peace. They scattered the sheep, drove them away through abuse and corruption, and turned against them in sin. They did not attend to the needs of the weak in their charge, but harmed them through neglect and oppression.
The prophets of the Lord were to bring the Word of God to the people in a way that honored God. Unfortunately, the land was filled with false spokesmen for the Almighty. They claimed to have dreams from God, and freely spoke to others saying, “Thus says the Lord.” Yet their words and their ways were not from God at all.
False prophets and priests of Judah brought God’s people along dark pathways that only led to destruction. They were full of spiritual adulteries and lies.
God would soon discipline His people by sending them north into the land of captivity. He would also bring them back from exile as their strong Deliverer. Even His great act of salvation in the restoration of Judah was only a small foretaste of what would one day be accomplished by the true Prophet, Priest, and King over God’s people, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The coming of Jesus was boldly prophesied in Jeremiah 23. “The days are coming,” Jeremiah wrote, when the Lord would raise up for David a “righteous Branch.” He would appear on the earth many years after God gave great promises to David. His name would be “The Lord is our righteousness.” His own perfect obedience would be credited to all those who put their trust in Him.
False prophets, immoral priests, and oppressive rulers who have used God’s Name to do what the Lord forbids will one day stand before Jesus. What will the enemies of God do when they face the Son of God on that day when He comes again to judge the living and the dead?
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Lord, Your shepherds should have cared for Your people. They all fell short of Your holy command. Then One came whose name was “The Lord is our Righteousness.” He became the only Shepherd of the sheep. We hear His voice in the Scriptures and follow Him. He leads us now in pathways of righteousness for Your Name’s sake. How different He is from the adulterous kings and prophets of ancient days. So many were false men. They spoke deceptive words of peace upon Your people, words that minimized the evil of their deeds. Christ has given to us true words of secure hope. He has exposed the deceits of our hearts, but has given us the light of the gospel of the kingdom. He gave forth Your Word like a fire, but then took the flames of Your wrath upon Himself for our sake. Your Son has delivered us from a burden that we could never bear. You have answered us in our great need through this one Prophet, Priest, and King, our Lord Jesus Christ. He has taken away our everlasting shame.