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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: November 10, 2022

Jeremiah 23:1-20

Once upon a time, King Saul feared that Israel was going to be destroyed by the Philistines, so he trusted in his own righteousness when he offered an unlawful sacrifice to God, thinking he had to wake up the Lord he presumed was sleeping. God responded by giving his throne to David. Once upon a time King Solomon had to establish peace in his land, but he didn’t trust God’s promise to preserve him, so he married numerous foreign women and built altars to their false gods to keep the peace, both with them and their royal families. God responded by tearing his kingdom in half. And so it would go throughout the generations. The kings of Israel tried to keep the peace by making unholy alliances with foreign nations, by tolerating the idolatry of the people and by persecuting the prophets. And in our reading from Jeremiah today, the prophet sees the results of all of this–condemnation, death, and destruction. Jerusalem was no more because her kings tried to produce righteousness themselves, from their own hands.

In a way, this historical destruction of Jerusalem was a picture of our spiritual estate. Like those kings, very often, we weren’t trying to be evil when we sinned. We were trying to manage our lives, to keep our parents and our friends and coworkers happy when we lied and deceived, when we denied God’s word and name in order to keep the approval of those in our lives who hated Him. We were trying to be good people, righteous people. But what was the end result? The true temple of God destroyed. The Son of God dead upon the cross, Jesus Christ breathing His last because we chased after our own righteousness and earned condemnation.

But as we stand before the ruins of our soul-destroying best intentions, Jeremiah speaks a word of comfort. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely…And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”

You chased after your own righteousness and became condemned by your unrighteousness. But thanks be to God that you are now worthy of eternal life because the Lord who is your righteousness was your righteousness upon the cross. When you were lost in the rubble of Jerusalem, God sent His Son, the righteous branch for David. He sent His Son, the rightful heir to David’s throne. And with His blood, His love, and His dying breath, Jesus gave you the very thing you had condemned yourself trying to produce. He gave you His righteousness. He gave you His perfection, His perfect obedience to the Law. Once you stood condemned in the rubble of Jerusalem. But now, you are forgiven, you are holy, and you are free to walk out of the rubble of condemnation and into the arms of God.

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