“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says Yahweh. Therefore Yahweh, the God of Israel, says against the shepherds who feed my people: “You have scattered my flock, driven them away, and have not visited them. Behold, I will visit on you the evil of your doings,” says Yahweh. “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will set up shepherds over them, who will feed them. They will no longer be afraid or dismayed, neither will any be lacking,” says Yahweh.
“Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh,
“that I will raise to David a righteous Branch,
and he will reign as king and deal wisely,
and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved,
and Israel will dwell safely.
This is his name by which he will be called:
Yahweh our righteousness.
After God proclaims one of the most troubling curses in all of history, He immediately affirms the fact that a day will come in which a “righteous Branch” of David will come and save all of Israel and Judah. Even though it was unlikely that anyone understood how God could do it, He still promised to do it. Lets look at where God places blame.
God pronounces a “woe” on the “shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep” of His pasture. If you want to learn what it means to receive a “woe” from God, read the book of Revelation. This book of Jeremiah has done a pretty good job of explaining it too. Woes from God are what we might call times of “hell on earth.” When God says this, the people responsible have done something very grievous. Remember what has been going on in Judah at this time. There were false prophets speaking against Jeremiah as well as rebellious kings who were teaching the people that it was Ok to practice idolatry. These “shepherds” were actually scattering the sheep instead of tending to them. Lions and bears are the ones that scatter the sheep. These leaders were acting like enemies. When a shepherd consumes the sheep that God intended for him to care for, it makes Him very angry. I’m not sure that I can adequately express the amount of anger God has in this situation and I don’t really have to. All you have to do is look at the destruction that resulted from this behavior.
In God’s anger, He pronounced mercy. This is something that clearly separates God from man. He, in His wrath, still brought mercy and here we learn more about His plan to do it. Even before God began his “woe” on Judah, God pronounced His intention to solve the problem forever by sending Jesus. God intended to save Israel, not to destroy her. The day would come when Jesus would rule on David’s throne on earth. This hasn’t actually happened yet. Israel is still seeking a leader that will bring peace and true safety from her enemies. As Christians, God has shown us the way already, though. God sent His son to die for the sins of the whole world by becoming righteousness for us and because of this we already call Him: “Yahweh our righteousness”.