Throughout the period leading up to the Babylonian Exile both Israel and Judah had experienced good times and bad times, good kinds and bad kings. There were good times with good kings like Josiah and Hezekiah who carried out great religious reforms, and there were bad times with bad kings like Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, who oppressed the poor, corrupted worship, and persecuted the prophets. It is King Zedekiah who has placed the prophet Jeremiah in prison (33:1).
And yet, it is from his prison cell that Jeremiah now speaks “a word from the Lord,” saying that “the days are surely coming” when both Judah and Israel will enjoy a truly righteous ruler in the line of David, one who will demonstrate justice and righteousness (33:15). This new king will save Jerusalem and will do so in a way that will bring glory to God (33:16). This new king will keep and fulfill God’s promises and remind the people that God’s word will stand forever, that God’s word does not come back empty (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11). There will come from the stump of Jesse a shoot and out of that shoot a branch, and God will raise up a king who will rule in righteousness and goodness.
In other words: Hope is coming! God will cause “a righteous Branch to spring forth for David” (33:15), and it will be a Branch that will fulfill God’s purposes and communicate hope to the people. Indeed, in Advent, hope is coming and his name is Jesus, God’s righteous Branch! Despite what ails the world, there is hope to mend and heal the world (John 3:16) and provide hope to whatever is confronting God’s children. Hope is coming!
How may we keep hope alive in our hearts? How may we demonstrate hope to a broken and sinful world?