Jeremiah 23:1-8 THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’ says the LORD.” (v. 1) God is the covenant LORD of his people. Shepherds are called to be faithful stewards of those who are his. Instead of protecting them the shepherds were devouring them. Instead of leading them to green pastures they caused them to flee for their lives (v. 2a). Because they did not attend to the needs of the sheep, the LORD was going to attend to their evil deeds (v. 2b). One primary thing is presupposed here, the sheep need shepherds, but those who will be faithful. Secondly, out of this adversity the LORD promises to preserve a remnant within the covenant who will be gathered together once again, and “they shall be fruitful and increase” (v. 3). Thirdly, this renewal is not without shepherds, but rather the LORD “will set up shepherds over them who will feed them” (v. 4a).
Under shepherds set up by the LORD, three things would result. “‘They shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,’ says the LORD.” (v. 4b). Firstly, they will no longer fear the shepherds. Secondly, they will no longer be dismayed that they are victims of evil shepherds. Finally, they will no longer have to flee because of want, because these shepherds will lead them to green pastures and still waters (Cf. Ps. 23). These promises, and these shepherds will come for one reason and one reason only, because the LORD of the covenant would send a son of David who would be known as “a Branch of righteousness,” a King who “shall reign and prosper, and execute judgement and righteousness in the earth” (v. 5). Note well, this Branch will with his coming begin his reign and prosper in the earth!
This Branch would provide the LORD’s people with salvation and safety. It is through his righteousness that we are saved, for this reason he is called “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (V. 6). Furthermore, in the days coming, the epic or pivotal event of this salvation history will not be a looking back to the exodus from Egypt, but rather it will be a type of that greater redemption which would come through this Branch and the salvation wrought through his righteousness, when he gathers his remnant and gives them a dwelling and rest in their own land (vv. 7-8). This passage has always been understood as being messianic, for those who know the scriptures, and in whom these scriptures, by God’s Spirit, have the faith and hope to believe. There is no gap here between the coming of the Branch or Messiah, and the reign of his righteousness, who is Jesus.