Monday after the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 23:1-20 (NKJV)
1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD. 3 “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the LORD. 5 ” Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that they shall no longer say, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 8 but, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land.”
9 My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; All my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the LORD, and because of His holy words. 10 For the land is full of adulterers; For because of a curse the land mourns. The pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up. Their course of life is evil, and their might is not right.
11 “For both prophet and priest are profane; Yes, in My house I have found their wickedness,” says the LORD. 12 “Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery ways; In the darkness they shall be driven on and fall in them; For I will bring disaster on them, the year of their punishment,” says the LORD. 13 “And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err. 14 Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; For from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land.'”
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace”‘; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.'”
18 For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? 19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury—a violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked. 20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.
“In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
The Lord had warned Judah by the mouth of Jeremiah that His judgment would fall upon them. The Law of God is not to be trifled with! There is a reason that Luther’s explanations of God’s Commandments say that we should not only “love,” but “fear and love God so that we…” We should indeed fear His wrath, and not do anything contrary to them.
Nevertheless, there is hope. There is always hope. The proclamation of the Law of God, of wrath and judgment, is always the alien work of God. It is there to crush us, to show us our need for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Showing mercy is the proper work of God; it is His real mission.
In whom shall we hope? The King in those days was a man named “Zedekiah.” His name meant “the righteousness of the Lord,” though he fell miserably short of his own name. Trust not in princes or kings. Trust in “the Lord our righteousness,” our Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who by Holy Baptism clothes us in His righteousness unto life everlasting!