branch resized

This year I committed to reading the Old Testament again and have just finished the book of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah reads differently this year than in years’ past.  The cry and warning that things will not go well despite so many optimistic predictions ring true. 

Of course, what Jeremiah witnessed from a front row seat is much worse than what we are going through.  He saw the final collapse of his civilization, which included famine, war, plague, pestilence and a forced march to a far-off land. 

Even in the midst of such terrible destruction, Jeremiah would record chapters of hope and restoration.  Things will be better again one day.

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 33:14–16 (ESV)

Jerusalem will dwell securely… that is a hopeful vision, considering Jeremiah saw it starved out and destroyed, every great building burned to the ground.  The difference maker was that righteous Branch, Jesus, who was to spring up from the line of David.  Instead of ruling and conquering with a sword, he conquered sin and death with his own precious blood.

We live in a time also of prognosticators.  Some saying “All is fine, nothing is wrong!”  While others shout: “Destruction!”  The truth is there is death and anguish especially for those who have directly been affected by this new disease.  And yet, as bad as this is, there is so much reason for hope.  Hope in restoration and health, hope that we may once again dwell secure. 

Two major vaccines shown to be 95% effective are just around the corner.  There are dozens more which will follow in the months ahead.  Effective treatments and better tactics have reduced mortality rates.  Most importantly we are all learning, learning how much we took for granted, how much community matters, how much family means to us. 

We are not enduring anything near the complete cultural demise that Jeremiah experienced.  Still I hope that this is humbling for people… a reminder that no one lives forever and that we must one day face questions of death and love and life.  For the Christian the answer to those nagging questions all center on Christ, that righteous Branch, that one whose name is ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’