Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 11. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in a church by a reader on Sunday July 22, 2018. It is important because it prophesies the coming of Christianity, where Salvation comes when one is led by the true Shepherd.
One should know that Jeremiah was a prophet of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, but the LORD called him to preach about the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity its people would suffer. He was born into a priestly family; but he went to the people to minister, as he was not welcomed by the temple priests. During his life both Israel and Judah were influenced heavily by Baal worshipers and their priests; and Jeremiah had made them enemies by proclaiming them false prophets. Knowing that history makes it easier to grasp what God was telling Jeremiah in this reading.
In the first verse, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture,” it is important to know the Hebrew words “ra’ah” (written “rō·‘îm”) – translated as “the shepherds” – and “marith” (written “mar·‘î·ṯî”) offer insight through the similarities of their focus. The word “ra‘ah” accurately states “pastors,” where the word is “figurative of ruler, and teacher, accusative of people, flock.” When one sees that use of metaphor as being who powerful “Woe” (from first word importance – capitalization) will befall, then “sheep” can be read figuratively as “flock” or “multitude, which have been in God’s “pasturing” and “shepherding.”
This figure of speech is then how Judaic priest read this Scripture and it is how God intended Jeremiah to understand His words. God was not irked by little boy shepherds who let their father’s sheep get lost. God was angered at the bad rule of the Israelites by the bad kings of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (“Woe be to shepherds”), who let in bad shepherding priests (“who destroy and scatter the sheep”) that did not serve the God of Israel (“of my pasture”).
This means that the Promised Land that had been Canaan was “the pasture” where the flock of Israelites had been placed, to be fed and cared for. In that way, some “sheep” (rams) were raised to “shepherd” status, as they were the “rulers and teachers of the people” (the metaphor of “shepherd”), beginning with Moses and Aaron, passing to Joshua and the series of judges and prophets of Israel, including King David. Those shepherds unified the flock and kept them safe, doing so for the LORD – the figurative owner of the land and the wealth thereof, measured in the number of heads of Israelites.
As a prophecy of God’s actions against the destruction and scattering of His flock, we read, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing.” The use of the first person here says that God “alone” will keep the evil masters from achieving what they sought: the destruction and the scattering of those who serve the true LORD, YHWH. This even includes all those who sacrificed with their lives at the swords of the wicked, because all God’s chosen souls will be brought “back to their fold.”
It should be grasped that God was speaking to Jeremiah about the faith of those souls destroyed and scattered. Despite all the trauma caused by evil shepherds, they retained their faith. There were many who held dear to their religious tenets and never surrendered to the influence of those who served other gods. As such, those shepherds that would be raised up by God, “who will shepherd” the lost sheep, were those souls who were unjustly persecuted in human body. This makes Jeremiah’s words be a prophecy of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, although individual prophets and leaders maintained reason for the Israelites to keep faith.
Still, only those shepherds who would be descended from Jesus of Nazareth, through the Holy Spirit, could remove the fears (heartfelt emotions), return courage to their being (strength of heart), and make the lost know they are found. They would place God in the hearts of the faithful by passing on the Holy Spirit, making each a shepherd be raised spiritually by the LORD. Each Apostle became synonymous with a servant knighted by the Trinity.
Certainly, one could see how God raised up the Persians to overthrow the Babylonians. One could see Cyrus as a shepherd who allowed the scattered Jews to return to Jerusalem. He would rebuild the temple destroyed by the Babylonians; but none of the Persians would return the pasture’s ownership to those lost sheep. The Persians had won the land in battle and deserved the spoils as victors. Then, the Greeks, and after the Romans would gain the upper hand militarily and become the owners and dominators. This history of empirical rises and falls does not match the prophecy of Jeremiah. This shows the prophecy has a higher meaning, which is the advent of Christianity; and that requires the fulfillment of Jesus Christ being raised.
God then prophesied this coming to Jeremiah, when He said, “The days are surely coming … when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” By God naming David, whose six-pointed star was the shield of the nation of Israel (all twelve tribes), “a righteous Branch” (where “ṣe·maḥ” is capitalized in translation) means an offshoot of new growth, one stemming from the line that had fallen in destruction. This is how Isaiah (a mentor of Jeremiah) prophesied “a shoot will spring up from the stump of Jesse.” (Isaiah 11:1 and 11:10)
The righteous “stump” (Hebrew “mig-gê-za‘,” meaning “stem, stock, stump”) of David would become known as Judaism, which began in Babylonian captivity and returned to Jerusalem as those who clung to land and a new temple. That branch was severed and then grafted back onto its former shell. The “righteous Branch” raised would be that religion named after the fulfillment of prophecies of a Messiah. Many would claim to be that raised shepherd, but none (not even Jesus of Nazareth) would be followed in large numbers. At the time of Jesus’ death, the lives he touched was only a small sample of what Judaism was. However, the religion that followed the rise of Apostles, in the name of Jesus Christ, as a religion that exists to this day and as a separate Branch of Davidic religion, those who have expresses belief in the One God (YHWH) have far exceeded those of Judaism.
The Jews remain the stem from the stump of David because they are still a lost flock that follows no new Shepherd. They failed then in their commitment to serve God by living righteously, as priests to YHWH; and by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, they continue to fail in this regard. Christians grew into a dominant religion, due to a spread that was human servants (ministers of the LORD) filled with the Holy Spirit. They, in turn, passed that righteousness to the faithful through their ministries. However, after centuries of Saints propagating the lands, searching for the lost, Christianity (as a dogmatic organization) also has suffered the same destruction and scattering as that of Israel and Judah.
The true Branch of David is then relative to those who act righteously, not who professes a belief in God. After 70 A.D., the Jews were again destroyed and scattered to the lands of the world. Once again, their fate was due to their rejection of Jesus and losing the protection of God, fulfilling this prophecy of Jeremiah. The Jews became lost sheep again; and that has been their mantra ever since.
Christianity has been become equally scattered into denominations and sects, many of which have hatred in their hearts for each other. For every new branch (lower case purposefully) created, the flock is further scattered. New leaders pop up for each, claiming to be the new Messiah, while also claiming ownership of all the profits that comes with that new sect’s turf. All these leaders are no different than the prophets of Baal or the Pharisees of Judea. They come with desires set on possessing his or her own pasture with the booty of sheep and goats as their own. The false shepherds still exist.
It is this element of one true divine line (“a Branch”) that makes this prophecy of Jeremiah’s mean Jesus Christ was not simply a shepherd raised by God, one who would lead the flock, remove their fears, give them courage, and show them they have been found by God. Jesus of Nazareth was a Sacrificial Lamb of the flock, in the sense that God sent His Son to be born, then die, resurrect, and ascend back to God.
God is the owner of the flock and they are to be pastured by His Son forevermore. This means that Jesus Christ is then God incarnate on the earthly plane, as a human being born of a woman, such that Jesus Christ was the “I” stated in this prophecy of Jeremiah that would gather the lost sheep and bring them back to the fold. However, Jesus is not God in heaven, since he is the Shepherd on earth, which means his death sequence was the beginning of a lineage (“a Branch”) that would place the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ in countless sheep.
The shepherds who would be raised thereafter would be the replications of Jesus Christ in Apostles. Jesus Christ would “reign as king” over human bodies who made themselves sacrificial lambs unto God. Jesus Christ would “deal wisely” as Apostles filled with the wisdom of the Christ Mind. The flocks “shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” when they have been raised as the Good Shepherd resurrected.
When we then read, “In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety,” this goes well beyond the names of two fallen nations. It does not foretell of the scattered and destroyed gaining their beloved land back. They killed that Covenant when they became a stump. This means Judah and Israel are statements of the characteristics of a shepherd that will be raised, based on the meanings associated with those names.
The name Judah means, “Let Him (God) Be Praised.” Thus, those who praise God (He sits on His throne in their hearts) will be saved. The name “Israel” (while debatable) means “He Will Be Prince With God,” where those who sacrifice self to be reborn as Jesus Christ are the Resurrection of the Son of God, once again raised in the world. When one has allowed the Son of God his earthly kingdom (one’s physical body and spiritual soul), then having “God’s (Vicarious) Governor” (an alternate translation of “Israel”) control one’s being, then one can “live in safety,” assured of everlasting life. This means God named Judah and Israel as requisites for shepherding His sheep.
Seeing the meaning of the names Judah and Israel, one then reads, “And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”’ This is then God prophesying the name of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of whom will be resurrected in human beings of faith and devotion.
This name is a translation of the Hebrew “Yah·weh ṣiḏ·qê·nū,” which others collectively call “Jehovah Tsidkenu.” “Jehovah Tsidkenu” can be translated as Hebrew, stating “The Lord is our righteousness.” That is not a name, such that a name should be condensed from those two word, as a combined form new word. By doing an Internet search of “Lord is our righteousness,” several links appear that offer interpretations of “Jehovah Tsidkenu” (one here); but none of them place a focus on a single name that conveys that message. None of them take that phrase and show it as a prophesied name to be watchful of, like Judah and Israel are single names that translate as phrases.
This means the key word “ṣiḏ·qê·nū” needs to be understood. The word come from the root “tsedeq,” which is why others analyze the spelling similar to Jeremiah’s – “Tsidkenu.” The word “tsedeq” means, “rightness, righteousness, what is right, just, justice, vindication, and righteous cause.” It is related to the Hebrew word “tsadak” (or “tsadeq),” which has the same meaning, while adding “acquit, acquitted, lead to righteousness, properly restored, and proved righteous.” That has to be seen as the constant characteristic by which ALL Christians are to be measured.
In the history of names in the Old Testament, this word would become combined as a name that is an indication of this state of righteousness and is relative to Yahweh. In that history there are names that can be listed as possible recreations: Jeshua, Isaiah, Jehozadak, Zadok, and Melchisedek. Those names all imply individual born, who were given names they lived up to, by becoming those whose righteousness or salvation could be due to their service to the LORD. Therefore, all of these names deserve analytic inspection based on this prophecy of Jeremiah.
The name “Jeshua” is the root of the name known as Joshua, where the Hebrew word “yasha‘” is combined with “Yah-,” yielding a name that means “Yah Is Salvation” or “God Is Deliverance.” Of course, the Greek name “Jesus” or “Iēsous” is deemed a variation of “Jeshua.” Thus “Jesus” is a name that means “God Is Salvation.” Certainly those who interpret “Jehovah Tsidkenu” associate that name with Jesus Christ.
While “Righteousness” is not the same as “Salvation,” righteousness is the path one must take to reach that destination. When Jesus said, “I am the way,” that says the way to salvation is righteousness. In my opinion, “the LORD of our righteousness” comes through the Trinity in each individual, where a marriage to God in one’s heart brings about the cleansing of sins from one soul by the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in one’s body. It is then that presence of “Jeshua” that becomes the “Lord of one’s righteousness.”
The name “Isaiah” represents an instance where the letter “j” is a relatively modern invention, as before the letter “i” was used in place of a “j.” The Hebrew letters YHWH are pronounced in English as “Yahweh,” but in German the “y” is pronounced like a “j.” Additionally, in German a “w’ is pronounced like a “v” in English, so the same YHWH is enunciated as “JeHoVaH.” From this, one can then see how “Isaiah” is a combination of the same root found in Jeshua” – “yasha‘” – with the ending now the abbreviated form of YHWH. This means Isaiah bears the same meaning as Jeshua: Yahweh Is Salvation or Salvation Of The Lord.
The parallel of Isaiah that is Jeshua can then be seen as Isaiah being a resurrection of the spirit of Joshua, who was a righteous judge of Israel. Isaiah was a contemporary of Jeremiah, said to be his mentor, so they were two prophets gathered in God’s name (as a church). They reflect how all judges and prophets are cases of the Lord raising up shepherds for His flock. The same spirit can then be seen in prophets as was in Jesus Christ, who would come later and also be known as a prophet of Yahweh.
This brings out the commonality of the Christ Mind, where all prophets hear the word of God speaking to them. That word can only be heard by those who are sacrificial lambs, letting the din of self go so the divine word can be heard. This is how the same comes upon Apostles, whose king within brings about the personal identification of “the LORD Of My Righteousness,” which assures one’s salvation.
The name “Jehozadak” is said to be: “Jehozadak is a high priest, a son of Seraiah (1 Chronicles 6:14) and father of Jeshua, both high priests. Jehozadak was among the exiles to Babylon, and his son Jeshua was among the returnees (Ezra 3:2).” (Abarim Publications) This name clearly combines “Jehovah” (YHWH) with the Hebrew word “sadeq,” which is rooted in the Hebrew word “Tsidkenu,” as “tsadeq.” Notice how the history shows this high priest, whose name means “Yahweh Is Justified” or “Yah Is Righteous,” was the father of a son he named Jeshua.
There is more to that than coincidence, when this prophecy of Jeremiah is analyzed. God told Jeremiah, in essence, the new “righteous Branch” will be ruled “by a king [who will] deal wisely” in the same manner as when one high priest was shown to be risen in an offspring. This means an Apostle is like Jeshua, born of Jehozadak, where Jesus of Nazareth is Spiritually the high priest of one Apostle (a Saint), from whom is born another Apostle (also a Saint), with all Apostles reborn as Jesus Christ (the high priest within).
It is important to see how Jehozadak means “the Lord Has Made Just” or “Yahweh Has Justified,” where the name conveys a change of being. For one to be “just” or “justified,” one has to be transformed from a being that was previously “unjust” or “without faith” and “dishonored.” This leads one back to the beginning of this reading, where the LORD said, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture.” Those who have been destroyed and scattered by the bad shepherds will resort to survival mode and that represents sins. That wildness is where one finds guilt from their own wretched states of being, from their own misfortune, sorrow and misery as the inner call to repent and seek salvation through righteous ways. Lost sheep call out for salvation. Still, only the power of God within them can bring about that change.
The name “Zadok,” who might not be well known, was that of a priest of David, who became high priest under Solomon. David placed the Ark of the Covenant in the care of Zadok during a rebellion, and Zadok anointed Solomon as King of Israel. This name is not a combined form because “sadeq” is the name. This name makes a direct statement of “Righteous” or “Just.”
This leads one to analyze the name of the high priest and King of Salem, “Melchisedek.” The same word found combined in Jehozadak, “sadeq,” is found in this name as well. The combinations here are of the Hebrew words “melek” and “sadeq,” where the result is a name that pronounces, “the King of Righteousness.”
This makes the history of Melchisedek important, as he offered bread and wine to Abraham; and David wrote (in Psalm 110:4) how God told him, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” David was a king, thus a King of Righteousness.” In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews of Rome, he wrote how Jesus Christ is also “a priest forever, in the order of Melchisedek” (Hebrews 7), which matches how God told Jeremiah, “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king.” This equates the Son of God to the Son, as Yahweh, who is truly the “King of our righteousness.”
It is said that Melchisedek (in Hebrews 7:3) was: “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.” Paul wrote those words with the wisdom of the Christ Mind, meaning he had some “inside knowledge” about this matter. This then states that Melchisedek is as John wrote in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) This language states the permanence of one’s soul, with few who have lived righteously forever.
This is a statement that the human embodiment of God is for the purpose of bearing the Word to mankind. Melchisedek is said to have given Abraham the robes of Adam, thereby blessing Abraham as a priest in the same order, who was at that time childless, but who would become the father of many nations. Jesus was likewise fatherless, as Joseph the human did not sire him. Again, few souls can claim God as the Father, as His Son.
This means Jesus Christ is a Spiritual king that cannot be recreated, as he is, as always, a most righteous being, as is God. Jesus Christ can pass on the robes of Adam (the Son of God) to those who have successfully passed the test of priesthood in the highest order. Apostles in the name of Jesus Christ wear those kingly robes. They are invisible, as they are worn inwardly, reflecting Christ the King has been reborn. Therefore, Jeremiah was saying for God, “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king in the order of Melchisedek.”
As an optional Old Testament reading for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s ministry to the LORD should be underway – raised up as the Good Shepherd – the message has to be: Shepherd the flock as God wants His people pastured. This means one must be found and be resurrected from the ways that a worldly life tends to destroy religious values and scatter the focus of humans, from One God to many idols. To be a shepherd raised by God, one has to have God “attend to you for your evil doings,” so the Good Shepherd can come forth.
A minister of the LORD is then one who has been brought back to the fold, safe and secure in the presence of Jesus Christ. This then leads one into ministry, as God says an Apostle “shall be fruitful and multiply.” While the simplicity of that message is to marry and have a family that one raises to serve God (just as Jehozadak begat Jeshua), the reality is one’s children are not born without a need to find their own path to righteousness. Therefore, one is fruitful by being of the living Branch of Christ that multiplies by being the food for thought for others to consume. A minister to the LORD offer the fruit of the Word to those seeking to find redemption from misfortune, sorrow and misery.
A minister of the LORD is one sent to others, so “they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing.” In this direction, one should realize that a minister of the LORD does not randomly go out into the world preaching to those who find hatred in one speaking of the One God, Yahweh. Muslims do not want to hear such a person speak publicly. It is doubtful that atheists would welcome anyone offering religious talk of any kind. Attempting to “save” a Buddhist or Tibetan monk could become an unending argument in logic, where each response is, “I hear you saying the same thing as I,” with no benefit being the result. Thus, a minister of the LORD is for those who are lost sheep of Judaic-Christian values, but only those who are crying out, “Help me. I am lost.”
In today’s America, there are many who stand up and pretend to be ministers of Jesus Christ, who express sorrow, fear, and misery, preaching that the evil government should be replaced by an equally evil (or compoundingly evil) government, which has nothing to do with saving or justifying any specific individuals. This means we are today suffering in the same ways as was Jeremiah’s corrupted Israel and Judah.
The LORD’s ministers that are raised up to find the lost and gather them again into the fold of righteousness, do not preach hatred or violent upheaval. Hatred is an emotion felt for one’s enemies. One can only love an enemy by allowing an enemy to hate one by afar. One does not stand before an enemy and curse it for being evil. Turn the other cheek by leaving one’s enemies alone. Take care one those who cry for help, as a shepherd returning lost sheep to the fold.
A minister of the LORD can only establish one-to-one relationships that bear real fruit. Many of those have no need for an exchange of words. Being verbally attacked and not responding in kind may have an unexpected result. Simply by being an example of quiet acts of love can cause another to be touched by the Holy Spirit and seek the path of righteousness in one’s life.
When the current troubles of our times are factored in, some can read, “shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” and think that means name-calling and threats that are made in social media, by people with religious order collars around their necks. Those people are the puppets at the ends of string that are being pulled by the same equivalents as were the priests of Baal. They were allowed into the pastures of Israel and Judah by kings who married the harlots of foreign nations, a sign of mixed blood and reduced links to heritage. They are the same as were the temple scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, none of whom were good shepherds of Judea and Galilee. Anyone who preaches revolution against governments or religions is only seeking to destroy and scatter, not gather and restore. The error in misreading those words comes from overlooking “deal wisely.”
A minister of the LORD has sacrificed the Big Brain of self-importance, such that the Christ Mind brings about the wisdom of God. A Big Brain has it all figured out and sends its emissaries to protest, arm-in-arm with photo-op downtrodden and ‘poster boy’ images of evil-doings. They are false prophets and bad shepherds, based on having figured out what “Jesus wants.” Rather than utilizing the wisdom of being Jesus Christ reborn, using the “I” word instead of “Jesus says,” they become agitators – those who scatter the flock with fearful messages.
A minister of the LORD, without thought, will see how a kind act without publicity will be noticed by the one looking for signs, causing the first step of positive change. The media portrays those who think Jesus (who is in heaven) said to do what a minority of the society desires to hear priest of Baal to say. Like them, priests today stand with women who want the right to abort babies, which is no different than the practice of human sacrifices Jeremiah sought to warn the people against. Those ‘would-be gods’ today are speaking hatred in the name of Jesus, which breaks the Commandment that says, “Do not use the LORD’s name in vain.” That Law says, “Do not act like you know what Jesus wants, before you become Jesus Christ reborn.”
Therefore, the message in this reading says to become one who knows the “LORD is our righteousness.” Our righteousness does not go about pointing out the lack of righteousness in a world owned by wicked people, as the world is not the ultimate goal. Our righteousness is only possible by becoming married to God in our individual hearts, and then becoming a walking, talking reproduction of Jesus of Nazareth.
Text copyright by Robert Tippett