There is no question that we are living during a significant crisis of leadership today. The crisis doesn’t merely exist in our governmental systems or at the top levels of corporations throughout the globe. Our leadership crisis even extends to the Church. In this season of Lent, today would be a good day to pray for our leaders.
This problem existed in Jeremiah’s day as well. Jeremiah 23 begins with God pronouncing a “woe,” or curse, on the shepherds and false prophets of Israel who had poorly managed and led astray the people of God. The chapter moves us into God’s heavy word against the prophets and false teachers who were mishandling and manipulating God’s word for their own benefit. Instead of being faithful stewards of the Word of God, the prophets of Jeremiah’s day were living in adultery, walking in lies. Of their deception, God declared, “They strengthen the hands of evildoers, and none turns his back on evil (Jeremiah 23:14).” It’s an utter tragedy that things have come to this, that God would have to say, “I am against the prophets, who steal my words from one another” (v.30).
Our tendency is to fix things when they are broken, to find a quick solution, even when there isn’t one. When we discover leadership that is spiritually inadequate and morally deficient we tend to just throw our allegiance onto another person; we find a different church, we turn to a different pastor, we expect another candidate to do better for us than the last one did. The sad reality is, our leaders—even those who fear God and strive to walk in His ways—will always disappoint us on some level. That’s why the hope of this passage takes us beyond looking for another spiritual leader who will do just a bit better than the last.
Jeremiah’s oracle directs us to put our hope not in the next human leader, but in the only true leader, the one true God who can make things right. God promises that one day He will raise up “a Righteous Branch” in the line of David (Jeremiah 23:5). The day is coming when we won’t live under the failed moral and spiritual leadership of corrupt men, but when Jesus comes He “will reign wisely as king, and administer justice and righteousness in the land.” He will be called “The LORD is Our Righteousness” (vv.5–6).
While we lament today the wayward leadership of frail human beings, we can look forward to the promised hope of the Savior who will return to make things right, to rule with justice and equity, to bring peace and His eternal kingdom. The question we must ask is whose kingdom are we truly longing for? Are we putting our hope and trust in the failed systems and leaders of today, or are our hopes banked in the forever King Jesus, and His unsurpassed righteousness?
Written by Jeremy Writebol