The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday, December 2, 2018, is from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. The text is Jeremiah 33:14-16. While short, these verses display some very powerful themes and motifs that wind through Jeremiah, as well as the whole of Scripture. It is located in the section of Jeremiah sometimes referred to as the “Book of Comfort” (chapters 30-33) and easy to see why these three chapters are titled this way. In spite of the difficult messages and prophecies of Jeremiah, along with their tone of doom and despair, these chapters live up to their title—The Book of Comfort.
The language encountered in our text is familiar because most of it has occurred earlier in the Book. Verses 15-16 are almost the same wording as chapter 23:5-6. In these verses we hear again of the “Righteous Branch” for which Jeremiah is well-known; צֶמַח צְדָקָה, (Tze-mach tzad-Dik). It is also made clear that this Righteous Branch will spring forth for David. This is a very significant reality to consider and is often overlooked. We see the same type of motif in the Prophet Isaiah as he prophecies about the sprout from the stump of Jesse (11:1). The piece that is often overlooked is the “newness” that is pointed to.
In Christ, all things are new. This is also true in so far as His three-fold office of prophet, priest and king. In the office of king, Jesus is NOT another king in the line of David, or in the line of the kings of Judah/Israel. Rather, He is the NEW David. This we see in Isaiah’s sprout from the stump of Jesse—a whole new thing is happening. Also, in Jeremiah’s Righteous Branch we note that it is for (a new) David. This reality is also seen in the other two offices of the Messiah. He is a priest after the order of Melchizadek—NOT Aaron. Therefore, Jesus is the NEW Melchizadek who has no beginning or end. In the office of prophet, Jesus is a prophet after the order of Moses. As Deuteronomy tells us there is no prophet like Moses, except the NEW Moses. Jesus is not a prophet in a long line of prophets following Moses, He is the NEW Moses. Thus, in every one of the three offices, Jesus is not just the fulfillment, He is the One who has made all things NEW (ref. also to Revelation 21:5). This reality will bring to mind the words of Jeremiah 31 (also in the Book of Comfort) where Jeremiah speaks of the NEW Covenant that the LORD will establish with His people… not like the Old Covenant, which they broke. Jeremiah is the only place in Scripture that uses this language of “new covenant”. All of this becomes very important to the Jews as they seek to identify Jesus saying, “Are you the prophet? Are you the Messiah? Etc.”
33:14 הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים, נְאֻם-יְהוָהi (hin-Neh ya-Mim ba-Im ne-um Ya-weh) “Behold the days are coming declares the LORD” This is the common means by which Jeremiah announces a prophecy/promise/fulfillment. See also Jeremiah 23:5; 31:31; etc.
וַהֲקִמֹתִי ((va-ha-ki-mo-Ti) root: קום (koom) Hiphil: “to cause to raise up; to raise; to stand; to cause to establish; to fulfill” Note the Actor who does the causing in this Hiphil form is the LORD.
הַדָּבָר הַטּוֹב (had-da-Var hat-Tov) “the good word/promise”
דִּבַּרְתִּי (dib-Bar-ti) root: דברְ (daw-Bar) Piel: “to speak” Literally: “Behold the days are coming declares the LORD when I will establish the good word/promise which I spoke…” Note also the inclusion of both the Northern and Southern Kingdom in this fulfillment. The covenant was made with the “whole” people of Israel and, therefore, the establishment or fulfillment must involve both as well.
33:15 אַצְמִיחַ (atz-Mi-ach) root: צמח (tsaw-makh) Hiphil: “to cause to grow; spring up; cause to sprout (as in plants)” Again, note the Actor.
צֶמַח צְדָקָה (tze-Mach tze-da-Kah) ”a righteous branch/shoot/sprout”
וְעָשָׂה> (ve-a-Sah) root: עשׂה (aw-saw) ”to do; to make; to execute”
מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה (mish-Pat u-tze-da-Kah) “justice and righteousness”
33:16 תִּוָּשַׁע (tiv-va-Sha) root: ישׁע (yaw-shah) Niphal: “to be saved”
תִּשְׁכּוֹן (tish-Kon) root: שׁכן (shaw-kan) ”to settle; rest; lie down”
לָבֶטַח (la-Ve-tach) “security; securely”
יְהוָה צִדְקֵנוּ (Yah-weh tzid-Ke-nu) “The LORD our Righteousness” A familiar and important name for the Messiah. All righteousness is His and He imparts/imputes it to His people.
This is the first Sunday in Advent and it is quite apparent why this text was included in the pericope system. The prophecy of Jeremiah points to the coming of Christ (His first) and the fulfillment of the long awaited Covenant. Also, as the New Testament Church, we note the role of the second coming in the everlasting establishment of security and dwelling for Judah and Jerusalem. Perhaps an interesting sermon series could be preached on the four Old Testament texts for Advent, each emphasizing a different name and “job description” for the Coming One.
Lectionary at Lunch: Dr. Andrew Bartelt of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, sharing thoughts on Jeremiah 33:14-16.