What does it say?
Jeremiah stood alone against the apostasy of Judah and was despised by the religious establishment. Seeing this scathing attack on religious leaders, one can understand why they hated him so (Jer 23).
In Jeremiah 24 the prophet sees a vision of two baskets of figs, good and bad. The good figs represent those that will go into exile. They represent the nation’s best and God promises to protect them and to bring them back. The bad figs are those who refuse to listen to God. They will perish in the invasion by Babylon.
The first year of Nebuchadnezzar was when he routed the Egyptians at the famous Battle of Carchemish (605 B.C.). For the first 23 years of Jeremiah’s ministry the people have ignored his warnings about the true threat that Babylon represents. They had so feared Assyria that they ignored the growing power of Babylon. Now, Jeremiah predicts that Jerusalem will be destroyed and that they will serve the Babylonians for 70 years.
What does it mean?
As we have followed the mission it is hard to avoid seeing the danger of trusting in the trappings of religion instead of trusting in the true God. They had grown accustomed to listening to false prophets tell them what they wanted to hear instead of truly hearing God’s words through prophets like Jeremiah.
Jeremiah sees the same messianic vision of the branch of the Lord that Isaiah also saw (Isa 4:2). Hebrew has several words that can be translated “branch,” but this particular word is only used in this messianic sense here, in Isaiah and twice in Zechariah (3:8; 6:12).
How will I respond?
Am I willing to stand alone against opposition like Jeremiah did? Am I influenced more by God’s words or by the people around me? In the midst of growing darkness and impending judgment, Jeremiah sees a glorious vision the Branch, symbolic of the coming Messiah (23:5-8). What is the biggest threat or problem in my life right now? Where specifically can I see the Lord Jesus Christ in this dark cloud?