14 “ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 “ ‘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. 16 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 Righteousness.’ Jeremiah 33:14-16
Written to a people in the midst of exile and heartbreak, Jeremiah’s words speak powerfully into Israel’s deepest fears (alienation from God and the land He gave them) and into Israel’s deepest longing (restoration with God a return to the land). James E. Smith, in his commentary on the book of Jeremiah, writes:
The glorious future which God promised to his people was wrapped up in the appearance of a scion from the house of David. God repeated the promise of 23:5 that he would “cause a righteous branch of David to spring up.” The term “righteous” points to the character of the coming Ruler; the term “branch” (lit., sprout) to his humble origins. This one would “execute justice and righteousness on the earth,” i.e., he would be the ideal Ruler. He would be a savior to his people. The city, saved by his power and grace, would wear a name which would bear testimony to her trust in God: “Yahweh is Our Righteousness.” That which would make possible the salvation and protection of the people was not their own righteousness but that of God himself (33:15f.).
Advent is a time to remember that God’s is eager to address our deepest fears and hopes head-on. He has a track-record of bringing salvation and shalom to those who turn to Him. And the good news is that God’s salvation, peace, and protection is not offered to us because of how moral or religious we are, because because of His love and goodness.
“8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9