Hope is the final word
When we think of passages to read for Christmas, we usually don’t flip straight to Jeremiah. The “weeping prophet” spent most of his career watching Israel be brutally and violently cleansed by Babylon. He was imprisoned, kidnapped, and left in a cistern to die. Not the kind of thing that usually shows up in the kids’ Christmas pageant!
Yet that is where the Advent readings often start, with a frustrated prophet watching his home burn all around him. Right in the middle of Jeremiah, chapters 30-33, is the strangest collection of songs of hope, surrounded on every side by proclamations of judgment and lament.
‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ (Jeremiah 33:15-16 NIV)
Jeremiah spent most of his career – forty years or so – delivering bad news. He’d rebuked the people and warned them over and over of God’s wrath to come. He’d written, spoken, and even done some memorable street theater in some parts to get them to turn around. And it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
But it’s here, in the middle of all this, that he brings a message of hope. He brings the message that this harshness, this brokenness all around them will not have the final word. They are in pain and danger now, but tragedy is not the bedrock of the universe. That bedrock is hope.
Jeremiah prophesies about the future day, and the harmony of Jerusalem. In this message of hope from the Lord, Jeremiah also speaks of the righteous branch that sprouts from David’s line. It’s unsure if he even had a dim idea that he was describing Christ, but he too must have been encouraged by this message of hope which speaks of the Lord, our Righteous Savior.
Jeremiah’s message fits perfectly in our advent readings! We see the prophecy, centuries away from the event, of that righteous branch who would one day show us God’s heart. And we still find encouragement today, even right in the middle of our own personal pain and tragedy, that all of the tears are temporary, and that our great hope is the final Word—Jesus.
May God bless your season of Advent with his hope.
Presented by Greg Williams
About the presenter:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA. Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International.
You are welcome to attend one of our local church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.
Word of Life contact:wo