I am breaking from the traditional I Am’s of Christ to another name of Christ—one that I’ve been thinking about today after the sermon yesterday and a fascinating word study this morning. 🙂
Jehovah Tsidkenu. The Lord our righteousness.
The name appears only in an obscure prophesy in Jeremiah 23:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”
God’s attribute of infinitely holy, majestic righteousness found everywhere throughout the Bible is a terrifying reality without the gospel: “Righteous are you, O Lord.” “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” “Your right hand is filled with righteousness.” “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” “The Lord is righteous is all his ways.” I could go on …
Growing up as a church kid, I knew God was righteousness. Even more, I daily knew the frustration of not being able to meet the standard of righteousness or holiness that I was necessary to please God. No matter how hard I tried, my motives were wrong, my words slipped, or I would look back to realize the whole attempt was self-centered anyway.
That’s why I have found Romans 3:21-22 a sweet balm to a thirsty soul:
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
The righteousness I desperately needed but was hopeless to attain could only be found in Christ, who through the act of taking on my sin, gave me his righteousness. It’s as if God crossed out my red-letters of debt and wrote “paid in full.” But even more, He transferred his positive account to my book, making me righteous in his sight. Christ’s perfect life of righteousness—every thought, word, and deed lived fully out of love for God fully fulfilled the law I could never obey.
Is Christ your righteousness? Only as the Spirit daily convicts us sin and peels back the externals to reveal our broken, weak, desperate need for God will Jehovah Tsidkenu become precious to us.
Robert Murray McCheyne, the great Scottish revivalist and preacher, wrote the following poem at 21:
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 sooth 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 nail’d 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 banished, 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!
Even 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.
-Robert Murray McCheyne, November 18, 1834
The Lord our righteousness remains a bedrock truth, one that gives us great reason to rejoice this Christmas.