Friday, December 2, 2011

A Righteous Branch

"'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

'In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch
sprout from David's line;
he will do what is just and right in
the land.

In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be
The LORD Our Righteousness.'"
Jeremiah 33:14-16

In my 9th grade World History class, we've been looking at the historical context surrounding Christianity. As we prepared to look closely at the effect that the Roman Empire had on Christianity (from Pax Romana, to persecution, to eventual acceptance and legalization), we took a step back and took a broad view of Israel's history.

God intended for Israel to be standing stones at the crossroads of the known world. Literally--Tel Gezer, for example, stood directly at the crossroads that connected the Via Maris and the King's Highway (the major trade arteries which ran between Mesopotamia and Egypt). From their humble promised land, the Israelites had access to key points of influence--trading hubs that conveyed not only goods but ideas to the corners of the earth.

The Israelites were called to bless the world by living for God, and we know that they failed on countless occasions to do so. It's easy to criticize them, but we often fall short in similar ways: we know what it means to live for God and yet we do the opposite. Despite the weakness of the Israelites, and in the midst of punishment, these words that Jeremiah shared with them must have been so tremendously powerful.

Oh, but this wasn't just a promise to the Israelites at the expense or exclusion of everyone else... Through the Branch of David's line, we, too have been grafted into the vineyard. We share the calling to bless those around us, to live as standing stones--testimonies--to God's greatness. Judah's safety and Jerusalem's salvation are extended to even those of us who have never set foot on Israel's soil. Though our lives may seem chaotic on occasion, and filled with troubles, we must never forget the promises that God has made, even from of old. After all, the One who was foretold in this passage did what was right and just in the land, as God said. He even gave His life for us. Now, we wait for His return and we take heart, even in the midst of trouble.

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