In 2013, Pakistan set a world record by planting 847,275 trees in a single day. In 2016, India broke that record by planting an astounding 49.3 million trees in one day. In 2019, Ethiopia shattered the record by planting 350 million trees across the country in just twelve hours! Their goal was to repopulate the forests and preserve natural life!
Trees are a powerful symbol of life. In today’s reading, the coming Messiah is called “a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land” (v. 5; see also Isa. 11). The message Jeremiah gives here is not new: Judgment was coming (Jer. 23:1–2). The shepherds, that is, Judah’s political and religious leaders, had utterly failed. Instead of taking care of the sheep, they’d destroyed and scattered them (see also Ezek. 34).
But despite the approaching conquest and exile, God was not done with His people. He is more than faithful! He Himself would become their shepherd (Jer. 23:3–4). Though they didn’t deserve it, He promised that He would one day restore them to the land (see April 17). At that time, He would provide better human shepherds to guide them, men such as Nehemiah, Ezra, and Zerubbabel.
Even more, He promised to raise up a “righteous Branch” from the line of David (vv. 5–8; Jer. 33:15–16). If you are thinking this foretells the promised Messiah, you are right! The perfect King, unlike the “shepherds” above—will do what is wise, just, and right. His name is “The LORD Our Righteous Savior,” also translated “The LORD has provided us with justice.” The Messiah’s reign will be an incredible work of God, greater even than Israel’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt.
>> In case you missed it, in July 2021, Today in the Word did an entire issue on sheep and shepherd imagery in the Bible. Did you know you have free online access to past studies?
Once again, we are reminded of Your ultimate victory, an already-not-yet reality. As we encounter joy and pain in our lives, remind us that the Messiah is coming again and that we have an eternity of knowing You ahead of us!