Sunday School Material 8-19-12: God Promised A Righteous Branch

(Jeremiah 23:1-6; 33:14-18)

Introduction: A key idea of today’s Sunday School material is that God promises to take care of His own. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to obey God like those who trust Him to take care of His own.

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Body:

Read Jeremiah 23:1-2

I. Shepherd’s Failure. In this section of the Sunday School material a “woe” is given in regard to shepherds who are destroying and scattering God’s sheep. This is an expression of sorrow or distress. The Lord promises punishment for the evil shepherds, in exchange for their evilness.

Applications –

- Bad shepherds. Notice in vss. 1-2 of the Sunday School material the mention of bad shepherds/leaders. They are known for destroying and scattering God’s sheep, as opposed to caring for them.

First, all sheep are not God’s sheep according to John 10:25-27. God’s sheep are known for hearing and obeying God’s voice. The best way to hear His voice is to study His word. In other words, everyone who comes to church is not one of God’s sheep. Those who hear and obey God’s word are God’s sheep.

Second, it is a terrible and dangerous thing to be guilty of destroying and scattering God’s sheep, instead of caring for them. A great way to care for God’s people is to equip them to be able to obey and trust God.

Trying to be there to comfort them in all of their times of trouble is not as caring, as teaching them to trust the ever presence of God. As much as we should “… with tender sympathy bear one another’s burdens and sorrows… (i.e., Church Covenant), there will be times when you cannot be there.

Third, thank God most leaders are not bad shepherds/leaders. And perhaps there would be more good leaders, if we had more people from the side line stepping up to be leaders or at least good helpers or followers. Let’s work on being good leaders or at least followers as sheep of God.

- God’s punishment. Notice in vs. 2 of the Sunday School material that God will punish bad shepherds. God’s example shows that applying negative consequences to negative behavior – discipline – is not being a destroying or scattering shepherd.

There are too many who demonize those leaders who enforce discipline and such leads to some people leaving the church. I Corinthians 5:6-7 clearly teaches that leaven must be dealt with for the sake of the whole.

When some people leave, it may be evidence that they were never a part of the church family any way. Let’s obey God to avoid His righteous and example setting discipline.

Read Jeremiah 23:3-6

II. Lord’s Action. The Lord promises to gather the sheep that He has scattered. He will place shepherds over them to care for them. There will be a calmness among the sheep. There seems to be a prophecy of Jesus being the great King of the future.

Applications –

- God’s future agenda. Notice in vs. 3 of the Sunday School material that God will gather His people, whom He drove to various countries, so they can be fruitful and increase in number.

First, God takes responsibility for the ultimate driving away of the sheep. There are times when negative things in your life is the product of your negative behavior.

There are times when negative things in your life is God’s making you into a stronger person. In either case, God is working things out for the good of His people. Be careful about thinking that all scattering is the product of evil people.Sometimes God breaks us to make us into something better.

Second, when God gathers us, He gathers us with the agenda of us being fruitful and growing in number. Too many simply want to be loved and comforted by God and His shepherds but have little concern with God’s agenda of being fruitful and increasing in number.

Let’s work on being fruitful and increasing according to God’s will. Evangelizing and edifying others as we work on our own discipleship will help us with this application.

- Human agents in the future. Notice in vss. 4-6 of the Sunday School material that God promises to send shepherds to take care of His people. In spite of the bad shepherds in vs. 1, God has not given up on using human agents.

As Christians, we believe that the Chief Shepherd is Jesus, and He is the one referred to as “The Lord Our Righteousness.” But there are also under shepherds like Pastors, husbands, parents, employers, and others.

Those who are trusted to be leaders should do so with a healthy fear of having to give an account of their leadership to God. Those who are trusted to be followers should do so with a healthy fear of having to give an account of their followership to God. Let’s work on doing our part in God’s plan to restore His people.

Read Jeremiah 33:14-18

III. Promise Fulfilled. The Lord promises that better days are ahead for His people. In the Sunday School material it says there will be a righteous branch sprouting from the line of David. He will do what is just and right. There will be righteous kings, priests, and Levites.

Applications –

- When God repeats Himself. Notice in vs. 14 that God reiterates His promise. There are times when God says the same thing again and again. This leaves us with no excuse for being ignorant of God’s promises and His will for our lives. Let’s pay careful attention to obeying and trusting especially those things that God says repeatedly.

- Doing our part unto the Lord. Notice in vss. 17-18 of the Sunday School material God’s continued plan to use human agents. As noted earlier, if you have been trusted to be a leader, do it unto God. If you have been trusted to be a helper or follower, do it unto the Lord.

Think about how many people served between David and Jesus and how many will serve between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming. All of these people have a role to play in the bigger scheme of things.

A great reason for us to be faithful is because we are parts of a much larger plan of God. We don’t want the record to show that we messed up a whole chain of events. Let’s do our part unto the Lord.

Conclusion: Let’s work letting God use us as the shepherds, helpers, or followers that He is calling us to be. God has much for those obey His will.

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