God called prophets to proclaim His Word, often reflecting the law of Moses line by line. Many times, the prophets addressed the leadership of God’s people, as is the case in chs. 21-25. Jeremiah denounced both Judah’s kings and the false prophets who spoke to them. King Zedekiah represented the beginning of the end for Judah (ch. 21). Zedekiah was a man who “did what was evil in the LORD’s sight” (2 Kgs 24:19). Jeremiah proclaimed that the only way of survival was to surrender to the Babylonian king as he advanced against the land. Whoever remained in Jerusalem—perhaps regarding themselves as faithful to the Lord—would actually be destroyed by Him (Jer 21:8-10). Perhaps Zedekiah’s request prompted Jeremiah in ch. 22 to look back and survey the landscape of cowardly leadership that had ruled in Judah after the death of the great King Josiah. The kings Jehoahaz (2 Kgs 23:30-33), Jehoiakim (2 Kgs 23:34-24:5), and Jehoiachin (2 Kgs 24:6-16; 25:27-30) had failed to carry out the law (Deut 17:18-20). Because those who had been appointed as shepherds had so miserably failed to attend to God’s flock, the Lord threatened to attend to them (ch. 23). Once the Lord had removed the selfish shepherds from their positions of leadership—and refined His people in the exile—He promised to gather His people as a remnant and set good shepherds over them, even ones like David (Jer 23:5-8).
When Jeremiah was commissioned as a prophet, the Lord told him, “Look, I have filled your mouth with My words. See, today I have set you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant” (Jer 1:10). The prophet was thus placed in a position to confront the rulers of Judah concerning their sin. In the midst of prophesying against the leaders of his day, Jeremiah announced that a just and righteous ruler would one day sit on the throne of David, the One whose coming and salvation form the matter of the storyline of Scripture. The Lord announced to Jeremiah, “The days are coming…when I will raise up a righteous Branch of David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 23:5). During His time, the remnant would leave the lands where the Lord had banished them and return to the land of promise (Jer 23:8). Jeremiah’s promise of a future Davidic king ruling God’s people mirrors the promise in 2 Sam 7:13-14 and 2 Chron 17:12-13. These references, together with themes in Psalms 2 and 110 form expectations of the coming Messiah.
(1) The Messiah would sit on David’s throne. Luke records that the angel Gabriel said to Mary concerning the child in her womb, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:31-32). In John’s vision of the throne room in heaven, he saw a scroll in the hand of the One seated on the throne. When John saw that no one could open it, he wept. Then John heard one of the elders around the throne say, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals” (Rev 5:5). This description reflects Jer 23:5.
(2) The Messiah would provide security for His people. In Jer 23:6, the prophet said that in the day when the Branch of David arrived, “Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely.” The author of Hebrews presented Jesus as God’s anointed warrior king who took on human flesh to defeat the Devil. In the thought world of the author of Hebrews, the Devil and his weapon of death were the greatest threat to humanity. Through his death, Jesus defeated the Devil and freed those held captive by fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). John’s vision of the Rider on a white horse in Rev 19:11-16 includes imagery of a David warrior used in Jer 23:5-6 as well. The Rider leads the armies of heaven to battle, with an iron scepter ruling the nations that oppose God’s people.