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Jeremiah's Prophecy of the "Branch"

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Covenant Reformed News


June 2019 • Volume XVII, Issue 14



Jeremiah’s Prophecy of the “Branch”

Apart from the 150 Psalms, Jeremiah is the longest book in the Scriptures. Yes, Isaiah has 66 chapters and Jeremiah has only 52 chapters, but the latter contain more verses and words. In the second longest book of the Bible, this is the most glorious prediction and the greatest messianic prophecy: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5-6).

There are three prominent characteristics of the One prophesied in this text. First, there is His genealogical descent. He is the offspring of David: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (5). The ancestors of David include Jesse, Boaz, Judah, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Shem, Noah, Seth and Adam. The “Branch” predicted by Jeremiah will be a descendant of David.

Second, we are told His office. The “Branch” will be a king. Not all the descendants of David were monarchs. In fact, only twenty of them in the Old Testament were. But the One spoken of in our text will be a king: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign” (5).

Third, besides His descent and office, Jeremiah informs us of the character of the coming One. The “Branch” will be righteous. Not all the kings of the line of David were righteous. Most of them were not, such as the last three mentioned in Jeremiah 22: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah). The righteousness of the prophesied Davidic king is mentioned three times in our text: He is “a righteous Branch” who “shall execute … justice [i.e., righteousness]” and who is called “The Lord Our Righteousness” (23:5-6). The other two descriptions of His piety serve His righteousness: He shall “prosper” or act wisely (5) and “execute judgment” or justice (5).

Nobility is one word that sums up what we have seen so far regarding the predicted Saviour. The “Branch” is noble in birth, in office and in piety. Our text is a prophecy of the righteous, Davidic king.

Now let us observe a couple of points about the way the “Branch” is introduced in our text. First, the passage begins with the word “Behold” (5). This is the word order in both Hebrew and English. “Behold,” that is, pay attention to this highly significant Word of God about the “Branch”: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper” (5).

Second, the next few words speak of the time of His coming. From the perspective of Jeremiah, when he wrote these words by divine inspiration, he was not referring to a figure in the past or in the present but in the future: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness” (5-6).

In short, the introductory words of our text indicate that this righteous, Davidic king is highly significant (“Behold,” this great figure!) and coming in a time that is future to Jeremiah (“Behold, the days come”). Clearly, we are dealing with a very important predictive prophecy concerning the “Branch.”

So what about the identity of the One predicted in Jeremiah 23:5-6? Is He Josiah? Josiah was a righteous, Davidic king. But Josiah did not belong to Jeremiah’s future, nor even his present, but his past (22:10-11).

What about the Davidic kings who came after Josiah: Jehoahaz (Shallum), Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin (Coniah), the three other monarchs mentioned in Jeremiah 22? What about Zedekiah who succeeded them? None of these four was righteous; all were wicked.

Josiah was Judah’s last godly king and Zedekiah was Judah’s last king. Some 2,600 years have passed since Jeremiah’s prophecy. God has confounded the unbelieving Jews! Many of their leading theologians even acknowledge that Jeremiah 23:5-6 is a messianic prophecy. In his commentary on these verses, John Gill mentions nine Jewish authorities who hold this view. But does anyone even know who the physical descendants of King David are today?

The mocking words of Pontius Pilate above our Saviour’s cross are literally true: “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Our Lord Jesus is the King of the Jews, the real, true, spiritual Jews (Rom. 2:28-29).

Christ reigns wisely, justly and righteously at God’s right hand in heaven, as He executes Jehovah’s eternal decree (Jer. 23:5). Jesus is the son of David (Matt. 1:1), who sits on David’s throne in glory (Acts 2:30). In these New Testament days, we enjoy full messianic salvation by faith alone and “dwell safely” with Him in covenant fellowship through the Holy Spirit (Jer. 23:6).

So many things can be said here by way of application but here we will focus on just three. First, we observe the fulfilment of prophecy. Jeremiah predicts the coming, righteous, Davidic king; 600 years later He came as promised (Gal. 4:4-5)!

Second, we see here the prominence of Christ in the Old Testament. The Messiah is even central in Jeremiah, the Bible’s second longest book which is filled with so many judgments. Yet, even here, in the midst of man’s sin and God’s wrath, the coming “Branch” is presented as the only hope!

Third, in all this, we behold the glory of the Triune God, for, in this prediction of Christ and its fulfilment, Jehovah proclaims that He is all-powerful, infinitely wise and absolutely faithful in bringing this to pass. Let us believe, enjoy God’s rich salvation and praise Him in Jesus Christ! Rev. Stewart

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 14
Stewart, Angus

Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)

Ordained - 2001

Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001

Website: www.cprf.co.uk/

Contact Details

  • Address
    7 Lislunnan Road
  • City
    Ballymena
  • State or Province
    Co.Antrim
  • Zip Code
    BT42 3NR
  • Country
    Ireland
  • Telephone
    (01144) 28 25 891851

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