Bible Study Commentary on the Names of God
Knowledge of the Holy: Believers experience Jehovah Tsidkenu our Righteousness
by I Gordon
Jeremiah 23:5-6 The days are coming, declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. (6) In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.
Jehovah Tsidkenu - the Lord our righteousness. This great prophecy stated that the days were coming when the people would live in safety and would recognise that the Lord is our righteousness. In its context it is speaking of a day when the Lord reigns over the nation of Israel. But their revelation then, should be ours today. In this age there is a hardening upon the nation of Israel but not upon believers. We are the ones that should realise that He is our righteousness. But what does that actually mean? And what are some of the benefits of having the Lord as our righteousness?
Let's start at the beginning with an ancient question. Let's go back to what is considered the oldest book in the Bible - the book of Job.
An ancient question that does not go away...
Job 25:1-6 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said: (2) "Dominion and fear belong to Him; He makes peace in His high places. (3) Is there any number to His armies? Upon whom does His light not rise? (4) How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? (5) If even the moon does not shine, And the stars are not pure in His sight, (6) How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?"
This is the last speech of Job's 'comforters' and Bildad, it seems, is past talking! So he keeps it very brief. In fact he really only wants to state two things.
Based on God's greatness and man's nothingness, Bildad's speech pivots around this ancient still relevant question:
"How can man be righteous before God?" That is the question. The big question! Even the the moon doesn't shine of its own Bildad states. Which is of course true. So how can we be pure in His sight when we are like a worm? It is a very important question and one that actually has an answer imbedded within his very own speech. But more on that later. For now let's examine this question in relation to the name of God that we are studying - Jehovah Tsidkenu!
The two problems
There are two simple problems in regards to man approaching God. They are very simple.
Problem 1: God alone is righteous
Isaiah 45:22-25 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. (23) By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. (24) They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.' " All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. (25) But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.
Problem 2: Mankind's own righteousness is actually like a filthy rag to God
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
So how can man be righteous before God if God alone is righteous and our very best is filthy rags? If God's very righteousness condemns us because we don't measure up, how can we be righteous in His sight? Well... He would have to be our righteousness. Somehow!
The meeting at the cross
|"Righteousness and peace have kissed. Believers enjoy peace with God because all the claims of divine justice were met by the substitutionary work of the Savior."
- William MacDonald
"Our sins were placed on Jesus' head.
'Twas in His blood our debt was paid.
Stern justice can demand no more,
And mercy can dispense her store."
- Albert Midlane
Psalms 85:9-13 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. (10) Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. (11) Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. (12) Yes, the Lord will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. (13) Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway.
At the cross the different aspects of God's nature came together! Mercy and truth met together. Righteousness and peace kissed! The old saying is that God's love and mercy would have forgiven the sinner but God's righteousness and justice prevented the forgiveness. God's justice and righteousness would have judged the sinner but God's love and mercy prevents the judgment. So what is God to do? The only answer is for Him to become a man and take the judgment upon Himself so that the sinner could go free. Due to the work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf, a new righteousness, His righteousness, in credited to our account. In other words, a believer today has no standing in himself - His entire standing is in Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our righteousness. This can be seen in the following scriptures (amongst others).
Romans 3:21-24 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 10:2-4 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (3) Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (4) Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (31) Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
2 Corinthians 3:9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
The benefits of Jehovah Tsidkedu - Having the Lord as our righteousness
Isaiah 32:16-18 Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. (17) The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (18) My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
Here is a verse that in context is speaking of the coming age in which Israel recognises that the Lord is their righteousness (as seen in our opening scripture from Jeremiah 23:5-6). But it has application for believers today because it speaks of the fruit that proceeds from experiencing the righteousness offered to believers under the New Convenant. So what is this fruit? Well, it speaks of peace, quietness, confidence and assurance, security and rest. Not a bad list! But why peace? Why quietness? Why assurance? Why security? Why rest? What do these things have to do with knowing Jehovah Tsidkenu? Why does this important fruit grow out of knowing that the Lord is your righteousness?
|Fruit of knowing Jehovah Tsidkenu
|vs 17 'the fruit of righteousness will be peace'
|Having the Lord as our righteousness gives great peace to the heart because we know that our standing before the Almighty God is based on the work of another - The Lord Jesus. That is why the scripture tells us 'Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.' (Romans 5:1-2)
|vs 17 'the effect of righteousness will be quietness'
|Knowing Jehovah Tsidkenu is our righteousness brings a quietness of spirit. No longer does man have to strive to measure up. No longer do we have to live with anxiety concerning our position with God (if we believe and accept His offer of righteousness). No longer do we have to toot our own horn, play religious games or seek the praise of men. We no longer have to speak of our achievements or try push ourselves forward past others. We can be still in our hearts knowing all is well. 'The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.' Habakkuk 2:20
|Confidence and assurance
|vs 17 'the effect of righteousness will be... confidence forever'
|Knowing the Lord is our righteousness gives great assurance and confidence. Many believers don't have this assurance because they are still looking at themselves. But if the Lord is your righteousness then how can we not feel assured and confident? This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:11-12
|vs 18 'My people will live in... secure homes'
|If another is your righteousness and that One cannot fail, then you are secure! You are safe! Even the enemy has no grounds for accusation anymore! 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the Lord.' Isaiah 54:17.
|vs 18 'iMy people will live in...undisturbed places of rest.'
|Rest! We need it physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Knowing Jesus as our righteousness enables us to dwell in 'undisturbed places of rest' as the scripture says. We rest from our works. We rest from constant striving as mentioned above. It is the fruit of righteousness. 'Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'
Bildad's ancient question was 'how can man be righteous before God'? The answer is that God Himself must be your righteousness. You cannot have your own. Believers will grow in practical righteousness (sanctification) as we grow in Him and allow His life to be seen in ours but our standing before God is always based on the work of another - the Lord Jesus and His righteousness. Bildad said that even the moon does not shine. Which is correct in and of itself. And yet it does shine. But it is a reflected light derived entirely from the sun. Our righteousness comes in the same way. We also rely completely upon the light and righteousness of the Son, the Lord Jesus and allow that to be displayed through our life and character.
And what of those old 'filthy rags' that were our old garments? They are gone, replaced by the robe of righteousness. Scripture tells us that this is something that we should rejoice greatly in!
Isaiah 61:10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Let meleave you with an old hymn that I ask you read and think about. The old hymn writers knew of Jehovah Tsidkenu and what it really meant. We have lost a lot of the depth that they had for many just live with a superficial understanding these days. But read the words of this old hymn and see the truth for your own life. Have you made the discovery for yourself that is stated below?
I once was a stranger to grace (Jehovah Tsidkenu) - Robert Murray M'Cheyne
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure to soothe or engage,
Isaiah's wild measure, and John's simple page;
But e'en when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu seem'd nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over his soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu-'twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see,
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name,
My guilty fears vanished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain life-giving and free:
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne'er can be lost;
In Thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield.
E'en treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This 'watchword' shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life's fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death-song shall be.1