In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6)
As I considered God’s names this morning, and how He has so patiently taken time to reveal Himself to us, I marvel at the way He traces each and every one through His Word. Each of His names is vividly portrayed, and each of them comes to full fruition in Christ. Jehovah Tsidkenu – the Lord our Righteousness – is completely revealed in the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Through Christ and what He endured and ultimately achieved – victory over the enemy – God is able to impart His own righteousness to us. This is the wonderful truth of salvation. Through His righeousness, God Himself is able to declare us ‘not guilty.’ This is the full grace of mercy rather than justice. It is the full manifestation of perfect justice – a perferct God pay the perfect price in order to declare His people righteous.
Jehovah Tsidkenu defines and fulfills God’s perfect justice through substitution, identification, and justification.
The word ‘Tsidkenu’ is derived from ‘Tsedek’ and means ‘righteousness.’ ‘Tsedek’ is translated hundreds of times as: ‘right, righteous, righteousness, just, justify, declare innocent.’ What emerges from this is that we cannot separate Jehovah Tsidkenu from the reality of justice, which in turn implies a perfect balance between judgement and mercy. Just as God’s mercy cannot exist without His righteous judgement, Jehovah Tsidkenu only derives its relevance from the truth that He alone is righteous, and because of this, judgement of anything unrighteous is inevitable.
Many people today struggle to understand that the ‘God who is love’ is also the God of judgement, yet this is as inherent to His nature as His love. The real truth is that His love is vividly revealed against the truth of judgement – it is the purpose of His great love to save us from that judgement, because He knows we cannot do it for ourselves. ‘God so loved the world’ is fully manifest in Jehovah Tsidkenu, because God gave Himself to save us from the judgement which would otherwise be our destruction. This is the power and magnitude of His love.
To fully comprehend Jehovah Tsidkenu, we must take hold of the truth that God, by His very nature, must judge all that is unrighteous because He Himself is pure and holy. If we were to approach God in our own righteousness, it would destroy us. Nothing that is unrighteous – unholy – can endure the holiness of God. The Bible reminds us over and over that all our righteousness ‘is as filthy rags.’ Simply ‘being good’ doesn’t cut it. No matter how hard we try, on our own, we will always be undermined by our sins, our weaknesses, and our fleshly nature. The entire Old Testament vividly portrays man’s inability to achieve righteousness.
Consider, for a moment, the sacrifices that had to be made daily, weekly, monthly, and annually in order to maintain a state of forgiveness and grace. A single sacrifice was insufficient, and it had to be repeated over and over, ‘renewed’ as it were because its efficacy was only temporary. In Christ, however, the sacrifice was once and for all. It is finished. The righteousness once imparted through ongoing sacrificial ritual was made permanent through the one perfect sacrifice. Jesus lived and died to manifest Jehovah Tsidkenu. He gave His own righteousness to become our righteousness.
The remarkable thing about Jehovah Tsidkenu is that it isn’t a mask or a veneer. It becomes a spiritual actuality in which we live as followers of Christ. When Jesus died on our behalf, He did not do so simply as a ‘substitute,’ by ‘taking our place.’ He did so in full identification with us. When He hung on that cross, God saw me hanging there as well. This identification is what makes full justification possible. ‘Justify’ means to ‘delare or make righteous.’ When God now looks at us, it is ‘just as if I never sinned.’ But this is only possible through full identification with Christ.
In Jehovah Tsidkenu, God is not saying ‘here, wear my robe of righteousness.’ He is, in effect saying, ‘here, wear my Son’s identity.’ When we ‘wear’ the Son of Righteousness, we actually wear the righteousness of God Himself. What an incredible act of grace, mercy, and love. 2 Corinithians 5:21 says: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It is a humbling throught to consider the magnitude of the love of God and the full extent of His mercy, both revealed so eloquently in Jehovah Tsidkenu.
Grasping this requires humility. It requires that we first acknowledge and accept that we cannot do it ourselves, that there is nothing ‘good’ or ‘worthy’ in us, that we are sinners, first and foremost, and would perish without His gracious intervention. The world teaches us that we are ‘special’ or ‘deserving,’ but this is contrary to biblical truth. This is not to say that we are to walk in a constant sense of condemnation and guilt. That is contrary to the vital truth embodied in Jehovah Tsidkenu. Rather, it’s about understanding and accepting our position in – identification with – Christ. On our own, we are and have nothing. In Him, we are forgiven, justified, and made righteous.
In essence, Jehovah Tsidkenu enables God to declare everyone who comes to Him in full identification with Christ to be declared ‘not guilty.’ God cannot condemn Himself. In Jehovah Tsidkenu, He gives us Himself, and so He cannot condemn us either. When He looks at us He sees Jesus, the Son of Righteousness, the perfect manifestation of the righteousness of God, and His verdict must be ‘not guilty.’
This is saving grace indeed. This is the ultimate act of eternal, all-encompassing love. Jehovah Tsidkenu is the revelation of the overwhelming compassion of a holy God, that He would willingly give all that He is, that He graciously washes us in His own precious blood, and that He clothes us with Himself. What a privilege we have, to come before the throne of judgement and find a throne of grace.
Lord, thank You for Your overwhelming grace. Thank You for the living manifestation of Jehovah Tsidkenu, for giving Yourself so that You can receive us in Your righteousness. Help us to live in that daily, to take hold of this wonderful truth and come in faith and thanksgiving, trusting only in the Blood of the Lamb and the righeousness You give us as we surrender to You.