The Even Better Good King
Note: to help with my own preparation for this Sunday’s sermon, I decided to write out the basic points in the shortest, simplest way I could think of. That turned out to be a children’s story. Here it is, as this week’s article:
Once upon a time, there was a good king. His name was Josiah. One cool thing about Josiah is that he was only eight years old when he became king! Even though he was very young, he was a very good king. He loved God. And he wanted all the people in his kingdom to love God, too.
One day, some people were cleaning out the temple and found some scrolls--not just any scrolls, but scrolls that had part of the Bible on them! The scrolls had instructions for how to love God and love each other. Everyone had forgotten these instructions, but Josiah made sure they followed them again. He led his people to get rid of their idols--which are pretend gods--and start worshiping the real God again. It was exciting!
Unfortunately, Josiah’s sons did not love God or follow his Word. They were bad kings. One of them was named Jehoiakim. One day, a prophet came to Jehoiakim to read a message from God. Do you know what Jehoiakim did? He burned God’s message! The good king Josiah loved God’s word, but his son, the bad king Jehoiakim, tried to destroy God’s word.
Josiah had three other sons--and one grandson--who were also kings. All of them were bad kings! It was a sad time for God’s people. You see, what made the bad kings so bad is that they led their kingdom to be a bad kingdom. They led people to worship pretend gods, instead of loving god. They let people hurt each other and steal from each other, instead of loving their neighbors.
Because of this, God was angry with his people. He decided to send them to exile--think of that like a big, awful, loooooong time-out. Only worse. Way worse. God was very angry with his people, so they couldn’t live in His special land anymore. But, God was especially angry with the leaders. They were in charge. They were supposed to set a good example, take care of their people, and lead them to follow God. Instead, they hurt their people and led them to hurt each other.
Do you remember the prophet God sent to the bad King Jehoiakim--the one with the scroll that Jehoiakim burned? That prophet was named Jeremiah. (There are a lot of J-names in this story!) God sent Jeremiah to tell them how angry he was, and that the exile time-out was coming soon.
Jeremiah said these bad kings were like bad shepherds. A shepherd is supposed to take care of the sheep. He keeps them together, keeps them safe, makes sure they have food and water. Well, these bad kings were like shepherds who attacked their own sheep instead of feeding them! Instead of keeping them together in a safe place, they chased them scattered them far away.
Oh no! Was that the end of God’s people? NO!
Jeremiah said that even though the bad kings had been bad shepherds of God’s people, God himself would still be a good shepherd. God promised to punish the bad shepherds, and bring his people back from all the scary places he had sent them. Not one sheep would be lost. The big time-out wouldn’t last forever!
God promised that another Good King was coming--an even better Good King than good king Josiah! This Even Better Good King would rule wisely, and he would make sure the kingdom was full of “justice and righteousness.” “Justice and righteousness” is a special way of saying that this king would make sure his people follow God’s perfect plan for loving Him and loving each other.
But it gets even better than that. Wait, what could be better than that? Well, Jeremiah gives the Even Better Good King a special name. It’s kind of a funny name: “God, our righteousness.” What does that mean? Well… God knew that people are sinners. As sinners, we can’t perfectly follow his plan for loving him and loving each other. So God sent a good king who did something better than just teach us to be righteous. He sent an Even Better Good King to give us His own righteousness!
We usually call the Even Better Good King something different than “God is our righteousness.” have you guessed who he is already? (It’s another J-name!) His name is Jesus.