Faithlife Sermons

THE BRANCH PART 3

Christmas 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When I was a child my dad, brother, and I spent a good bit of our time taking care of my grandma — my dad’s mom. She was widowed in 1964 when I was just a year old. Since she never learned to drive she depended on us or other folks to take her shopping or to the doctor, etc. We mowed her lawn each week during the summer months. Shoveled her out during the winter. And many other things. We did this not out of obligation but out of love.
One thing that would happen about every two years, like clock work, was that her septic tank would get filled. She had precious lilac bushes whose roots would invade the clay tiles of her septic field and cause all sorts of problems. One year my dad decided that he was going to cut down those bushes. Boy was she perturbed! If I recall correctly (which is very questionable) it seems like some of them may have grown back because we didn’t get all of the roots pulled up. Our study on the Branch, particularly the reference to the branch being the root of Jesse reminded me of this incident from my distant past.
Please take your Bible and turn to . Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at the concept of THE BRANCH through the writings of Isaiah. Today we will look at this concept through the writings of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s ministry was approximately a hundred years after the ministry of Isaiah. By the time Jeremiah began to minister (in the thirteenth year of Josiah) around 627 B.C. the northern kingdom had been in exile for 95 years or so. His lengthy ministry spanned five decades. After Judah was taken into exile by Babylon Jeremiah was left in Judah as part of a small remnant of people. Eventually he was forced against his will to leave Judah and escape to Egypt; this took place after the governor, which Nebuchadnezzar had put in place over Judah, was assassinated.
This morning as we go through our passage we will focus on the Righteous Branch. We will look at the contrast between the Branch and the present leadership in Judah, the Branch’s reign, and finally we will look at His name.
Let’s read our passage together.
THE BRANCH’S CONTRAST ()
Let’s talk about the Branch’s contrast. The contrast of this passage is between the righteous Branch referred to in verses 5-6 and the shepherds who are rebuked in verse 1-2. Before we can go on we need to identify who the shepherds are. We are not talking about literal shepherds in this passage, but rather the leadership, both political and religious.
If you are following along in the KJV you will note that they use the term “pastor” instead of shepherd. That is because the two terms are synonomous. The term “pastor” means “shepherd.” A shepherd’s job is to feed, guide, and protect the sheep entrusted to him. And that is the same job description for those who shepherd the flock of God that is entrusted to them. That is truly the context of this passage and the context of this comparison. The shepherds who were being rebuked in this passage were predominately the sons of Josiah who succeeded him to the throne.
Though Josiah, who was on the throne when Jeremiah began his ministry, was a godly king, his sons and grandsons were not. In chapter 22 the prophet wrote about the sons of Josiah — and not in positive terms.
In the prophet addresses King Jehoahaz (referred to as Shallum in this passage). This king who succeeded to the throne after his father’s death was only on the throne for about three months.
Jeremiah 22:11–12 NASB95PARA
For thus says the Lord in regard to Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, “He will never return there; but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.
Jeremiah 22:11–12 NASB95PARA
For thus says the Lord in regard to Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, “He will never return there; but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.
2 Kings 23:31–32 NASB95PARA
Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
2 Kings 23:31 NASB95PARA
Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
The name given him in this passage, Shallum, was given him as an ironic name. The word “Shalom” means peace, and it appears that he was referred to by that name by the people. But “Shallum” means retribution. And that describes the circumstances of his life. Pharaoh Neco who was responsible for the death of godly Josiah, eventually imprisoned Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt. After so doing he installed Jehoiakim, his brother, as king.
Pharaoh Neco who was responsible for the death of godly Josiah, eventually imprisoned Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt. After so doing he installed Jehoiakim, his brother, as king.
Jehoiakim was addressed by Jeremiah in 22:18-23. This wicked king ruled for about eleven years. He taxed the peoples heavily to come up with the money that had to be paid in tribute to Pharoah each year, as well as to build his elaborate and ornate palace. He was killed during Babylonians second seige of Jerusalem.
The next king mentioned in was Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim. He is referred to as Coniah in verse 24. This young man only sat on the throne for 3 months and 10 days. He was then dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar and replaced by his uncle — King Zedekiah, the last of the kings of Judah.
Our passage contrasts these unrighteous kings, all of whom were descendents of David, with the righteous Branch, the true Son of David — Messiah.
Though there is a lot more that can and should be said regarding the shepherds of God’s people, I want to devote the remainder of our time looking at the Good Shepherd as represented in verses 5-6. Let’s consider the Branch’s reign.
THE BRANCH’S REIGN ( )
IN THE FUTURE
Notice in verse 5 that Jeremiah places the coming event in the future — “The days are coming.” This is a rather common statement for this weeping prophet. Right now the condition of Judah is abysmal at best. But a time is coming when that will change. One commentator wrote:
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 6: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel a. Godless Leaders versus David’s Righteous Branch (23:1–8)

The formula days are coming is a messianic formula; Jeremiah uses it to direct special attention to what is stated. The phrase is used fifteen times in the book. In contrast to the troublous times of Jeremiah’s day, there will be a time of blessing ahead. The promise is centered in David in view of the covenant in 2 Samuel 7:8–16.

Keil & Delitzsch wrote: “According to Jeremiah's usage throughout, that phrase does not indicate any progress in time as compared with what precedes, but draws attention to the weightiness of what is to be announced.”
The point is that in the future there will be a King who will not renege on his proper duties as the sons of Josiah had done. Rather He will rule in righteousness.
The True Son of David
Jeremiah goes on to note that this future king will be the true son of David. And here we find the reference to the Branch which has been our subject for this series. Note that the Branch is described as righteous, as opposed to the unrighteous shepherds, the sons of Josiah.
The Hebrew term for righteous refers to one who is in accordance with a proper standard, one who is innocent of any sin or wrong doing. This description can only be fully realized in the true Son of David, Jesus Christ. Only He was guiltless being that He was not fathered by man. He was virgin born.
His Reign
Jeremiah goes on to describe the reign of the Righteous Branch:
He will act wisely
He will have integrity
Justice
Righteousness
He will save His people
The full nation will be united
THE BRANCH’S NAME ()
The Branch is Yahweh Incarnate
Note first that Jeremiah refers to the deity of Messiah in that he states that His name is LORD. The term “LORD” is code for “YAHWEH” the covenant name of God. It is the name that was given to Moses when God revealed Himself as I AM THAT I AM.
Jesus, during His earthly ministry revealed Himself by this name on several occasions in the Gospel of John.
John 6:35 NASB95PARA
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
John 8:12 NASB95PARA
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
John 8:58 NASB95PARA
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
John 10:7 NASB95PARA
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
John 10:11 NASB95PARA
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
John 11:25 NASB95PARA
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
John 14:6 NASB95PARA
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 15:1 NASB95PARA
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
The name YAHWEH emphasizes God’s self-existence. Only God is self-existent. Paul said that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Apart from God we have neither physical nor spiritual life.
R.C. Sproul, who passed onto glory just this past Thursday, wrote this regarding the term Lord as it relates to Christ:
Who Is Jesus? Jesus as Lord

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the title Lord was its relationship to the Old Testament. The Greek translation of the Old Testament used the word kurios to translate the Hebrew word adonai, a title used for God. The sacred name of God, Yahweh, was unspoken, often replaced in the liturgy of Israel with another word. When a substitute was used for the ineffable name of God, the usual selection was adonai, a title that called attention to God’s absolute rule over the earth.

In my mind the whole argument of the Jewish scholars that the Scriptures do not teach that Messiah will be divine, but merely a man who rises to prominence as a political and or military leader, is blown away by this name which Jeremiah ascribes to Messiah.
Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon based on this passage, said:
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. VII Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord Our Righteousness (No. 395)

We know, and this day we testify in his name, that the very Christ who did lie in the manger as an infant was infinite even then; that he who cried, cried for very pain as a child, was nevertheless saluted at that very moment as God by the songs of the creatures that his hands had made. He who walked in pain over the flinty acres of Palestine, was at the same time possessor of heaven and earth. He who had not where to lay his head, and was despised and rejected of men, was at the same instant God over all, blessed for evermore. He that sweat great drops of blood did bear the earth upon his shoulders. He who was flagellated in Pilate’s hall was adored by spirits of the just made perfect. He who did hang upon the tree had the creation hanging upon him. He who died on the cross was the ever living, the everlasting One. As a man he died, as God he lives.

The Branch is Righteousness Personified
Next note that the Branch’s name is The LORD our righteousness. Spurgeon wrote:
The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. VII Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord Our Righteousness (No. 395)

Christ in his life was so righteous, that we may say of the life, taken as a whole, that it is righteousness itself. Christ is the law incarnate. Understand me. He lived out the law of God to the very full, and while you see God’s precepts written in fire on Sinai’s brow, you see them written in flesh in the person of Christ.

“Christ’s righteousness is of another kind: it is ours, because Christ is righteous not for Himself but possesses a righteousness which He communicates to us.”
If you are trying to grasp what true righteousness is then read the accounts of the life of Christ as presented in the first four books of the New Testament. If you want to see how the righteousness of Christ as seen in His first advent is transferred to His Second Advent then read the closing chapters of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Any definition of righteousness that is contrary to what you read of Christ in His Holy Word is an inaccurate definition.
Righteousness Imputed
Finally I would like us to consider the imputation of righteousness. Imputation is a large word that simply means credited. In terms of banking and finance when money is deposited into a bank account it is listed as a credit — which could be referred to as an imputation. Every once in a while Gail or I will deposit some of our money into one of our children’s bank accounts. That money is imputed to their account as if it was their own.
In rather simplistic terms, that is the same concept that we talk about when we refer to the righteousness of Christ being imputed or credited to our account. Once it is credited to our account it is seen as being our own. All of this goes back to that most wonderful of doctrines, the believer’s union with Christ.
The name given by Jeremiah to the Branch implies the imputation of righteousness. Notice the name once again: “The LORD our righteousness.” Did you notice the word “our.” Calvin wrote:
“Christ’s righteousness is of another kind: it is ours, because Christ is righteous not for Himself but possesses a righteousness which He communicates to us.”
George Whitefield wrote:
Selected Sermons of George Whitefield Sermon 14: The Lord Our Righteousness

Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. We generally, when talking of the merits of Christ, only mention the latter,—his death; whereas, the former,—his life and active obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such a Savior as becomes us, unless we join both together. Christ not only died, but lived, not only suffered, but obeyed for, or instead of, poor sinners. And both these jointly make up that complete righteousness, which is to be imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours by imputation.

When we as believers stand before God at the Bema Seat Judgment, it will not be our own righteous deeds which will secure for a heavenly inheritance. It will be the deeds of the righteous Branch who is named THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. That fact alone should spur us on to a stronger desire to know Christ more. It was Paul’s motivation to be sure.
Philippians 3:7–14 NIV84
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
This Christmas season the most wonderful gift you could ever give to me is to make this desire of Paul’s your very own. Do you long to know Christ, the Righteous Branch, more? Are you leaving the things of earth behind to follow after Him? Are you pressing on toward the goal of your upward calling in Christ Jesus?
Friend, if you cannot say that the LORD is your Righteousness, then I invite you to turn to Him and exchange your filthy rags for His righteous garments. Acknowledge to Him that you are a sinner and are in need of a Savior. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe the message of the cross and the empty tomb. Cling to Him for He is the way and the truth and the life — He is the only way to God. By faith embrace the wondrous gift of His grace — the grace of God that brings salvation.
Let’s pray.
Closing Song: No. 294 — ONE DAY
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