†††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† taken from
††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††Names of God†††
†††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††by
†††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††Nathan Stone
THE NAME Jehovah-Tsidkenu means Jehovah our righteousness. It appears in
Jeremiah's prophecy of a "righteous Branch" and a "King" who is to appear; "and
this is his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness"
(Jeremiah 23:5, 6).
††††††† THE OCCASION OF THE PROPHECY
Jeremiah uttered this prophecy, the
than a hundred years before, the ten tribes of the
taken captive never to return. But apparently
lesson, and it sinned perhaps even more grievously than its sister kingdom in the
north. Jeremiah's ministr y began during the reign of the good king Josiah. Till
this time good kings and bad kings, reformations and counterreformations had
succeeded each other, a sad reflection upon the unstable spiritual condition of
the people and their rulers, and a revealing a downward moral and spiritual trend
which could only end in disaster. The history of the period of the Judges appears
to repeat itself here. Jehovah in Hit goodness and patience raised up pious and
devout kings, to succeed unrighteous, wicked kings, but it failed to. arrest their
The good king Josiah, who had followed the particularly wicked and cruel Manasseh
and Amon, instituted sweeping reforms and a great spiritual revival which were
brought to an abrupt end by his unfortunate and untimely death. His successors
swept them all away. Their doings may be summed up in that familiar formula,
which might well have served as an epitaph for them all -"he did evil in the sight
of Jehovah." Conditions went from bad to worse spiritually, morally, materially.
Even the priests, as well as the princes and people, polluted the very house of
the Lord in
(Ezekiel 8), The land was full of oppression and violence, political intrigue and
unrest. Jehovah's warnings went unheeded; His messengers the prophets were
mocked and despised and misused "until the wrath of the Lord arose against his
people, till there was no remedy" (II Chronicles 36:16). Even at the time of
Josiah's death it was already too late, for "the Lord turned not from the fierceness
of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against
the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. And the Lord said,
off this city of
name shall be there" (II Kings 23:26, 27).
predicted the captivity of
the instrument of Jehovah's judgment against
defeat of God's own purpose and promise! Had He not promised to establish
David's kingdom and throne forever (II Samuel 7:16, 17) Jehovah had promised
that, and He would keep the promise that there should never fail David a man to
sit upon his throne (I Kings 2:4), even though it was to be fulfilled only on
condition that David's descendants would walk before Jehovah "in truth with
all their heart and with all their soul." For Jeremiah predicted not only that
would raise tip to David a Righteous Branch, a King who should reign and prosper
and do judgment and justice in the earth, and bring peace and
and who should be called Jehovah our Righteousness.
There is a striking and significant similarity between the name of this Righteous
and King of Jeremiah's prophecy and the name of
which means the righteousness of Jehovah. His name had originally been Mattaniah,
which means the gift of Jehovah. Strange to say, his name had been changed to
Zedekiah by the king of
righteousness of Jehovah in all that had befallen this people, and the judgment about
to fall upon them. Perhaps it was a reminder of what might
have been. For
steadily and determinedly trod the downward path of retrogression from its God,
occasionally, through Jehovah's mercy, halting and retracing a few steps, only to
turn back again. "They have turned unto me the back, and not the face"
(Jeremiah 32:33). They despised His provision of redemption as Jehovah-jireh.
Consequently He could not he to them Jehovah-rophe, who heals. They were a
people, as Isaiah says, without soundness from the sole of the foot to the crown
of the head, full of open wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6).
Without Jehovah-nissi, their banner, they were defeated at every turn. Refusing
to sanctify themselves to Jehovah-M'Kaddesh, their sanctifier, they became corrupt
and degenerate. Ezekiel sees their elders in the very
things and abominable beasts (Ezek. 8:10, 11). Forsaking Jehovah-shalom, their
peace, they were torn by internal dissension and violence, and subjected by
outward aggression and conquest.
It must have been in the reign of Zedekiah that the great prophecy of Jehovah -tsidkenu
was given. Certainly the prophecy of Jeremiah 33:16, which
Jehovah tsidkenu, because of the presence there of Jehovah-tsidkenu, was made in
Zedekiah's reign. And what a striking contrast is here
presented! All that
kings should have been as representatives of Jehovah, at least typically, and as
summed up in the name of
this Righteous Branch, and King of David's line, would be. And in Him, as Jeremiah
declares in 33:6-26,
at peace and made righteous. For the nature of His kingdom was to be spiritual rather
than political and its chief characteristic righteousness, which was to be not of
themselves but of that King who should be Jehovah.
MEANING AND USE OF THE TERM "TSEDEK"
The word tsidkenu is derived from tsedek--righteousness. It meant originally to be
stiff or straight. There is certainly no more significant word in the Old Testament.
The Hebrew word cannot be adequately translated by any one English word. It
signifies God's dealings with men under the ideas of righteousness, justification,
and acquittal.† It is applied to the outward obligations and relationships of men.
The Book of Leviticus, where Jehovah is revealed as M'Kaddesh who sanctifies
and demands sanctification of life, the book which reveals the basis of approach
and manner of worship, also reveals the st andards of right and just relationships
among men. "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment . . . in weight, or in
measure. Just balances, just weights shall ye have: I am Jehovah your God
(Leviticus 19:35, 36). In Deuteronomy 25:15 such a righteous practice is one
of the conditions of prosperity and stay in their land.† Among the ancient Romans
justice was represented by a person with a pair of balanced scales in her hand.
Thus Job pleads: "Let me be weighed in an even balance," or balance of
righteousness, "that God may know mine integrity" (31:6). The psalmist pictures
all men, both high and low, as going up when laid on the balances (62:9). It is a
coming short in the righteous practices which men owe God even in their
relationships toward one another.† Modern orthodox Jewry still conceives of
God as weighing their good deeds over against the bad. On new year's day the
process begins and on the Day of Atonement it ends and judgment is sealed for
the year. The ten days in between are spent in a desperate effort for charity, prayer,
and fasting to tip the balances in one' favor, although there is never certainty as to
which way it may have gone.
The word tsedek is also used of a full weight or measure toward God in the spiritual
the sacrifices of righteousness, putting their trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5). These
sacrifices are described also as a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17),
because of failure to measu re up to such a full standard of righteousness; for as
Job says: "How shall a man he righteous with God?" (9:2).† It is used in the sense
of rendering justice and making right. The judges and officers
judge the people with righteous judgment (Dent. 16:18). They were especially
warned against perverting righteous judgment, but they justify or make righteous
the wicked for a reward, says Isaiah (5:23). They decree unrighteous decrees (10:1).
Isaiah pictures Jehovah as looking for righteousness in judgment, but finding the
cry of the oppressed (5:7).
The word is used hundreds of times in the Scriptures both as right, righteous,
righteousness, and also as just, justify, declare innocent. Human language is at
best insufficient to convey the f ull comprehension of the ideas of righteousness
and justification contained in this word. It is only as we see it exhibited in God's
character and acts that we see it clearly.
JEHOVAH THE SOURCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Jehovah is Himself perfect righteousness; He is the Perfectly righteous One. Jehovah
is a Tsadik-a righteous One, says the psalmist (129:4). As an El-Tsadik a righteous
God, there is none to compare with Him, Says Isaiah (45:21 ). He is the Rock whose
work is perfect, all of whose ways are justice. Tsadik--righteous and right is He
(Dent. 32:4). His righteousness is an everlasting righteousness and His testimonies
are righteous forever (Psalm 119:142, 144). Righteousness and justice are the very
foundations of His throne (Psalm 89:14; 97:2). The refore in all His dealings He is
righteous.† In contrast to Jehovah's perfect righteousness is man's lack of
righteousness and the evil of his ways. The constant testimony of Scripture
is to this effect. "What is man that he should be clean? And he which is born
of woman, that he should be righteous?" asks Eliphaz of Job (15:14). The
psalmist represents Jehovah as looking in vain from heaven upon the children
of men to see if there be any that understand and do good. And the verdict is:
"There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:3). The apostle Paul,
quoting this very passage in the New Testament, says, "There is none righteous,
no, not one" (Romans 3:20), and he concludes that "all have sinned, and come
short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).†
because it has any righteousness of its own does Jehovah give them the land to
possess. On the contrary, they are a stiff-necked and sinful people. It is only
because He would perform His promise to the fathers and carry out His purpose
that they inherit the land (Deuteronomy 9:4-6). The prophet Isaiah regards as
filthy rags what he had once considered his personal righteousnesses (Isaiah 64:6).
And that righteousness of the law of which Paul had once been so proud, and
which he considered as great merit and gain, he came to regard as refuse
Acknowledging Jehovah's righteousness, the Old Testament saints at the same
time acknowledged their own guilt. "O Lord, righteousness belongeth to thee,
but unto us confusion of faces ... to the men of
trespassed against thee . . . because we have sinned against thee"
(Daniel 9:7, 8). The Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that a
righteousness acceptable to God is impossible of attainment by man alone
because of inherent sin. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is
exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, ASV). "Behold,
I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me"
(Psalm 51:5, ASV). "How then can man be righteous before God? Or how
can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4). And the word for
man here denotes frailty, weakness.
Jehovah, who is perfectly righteous, cannot overlook this lack of righteousness
in man. For He "will by no means clear the guilty." These words follow that
remarkable expression of His desire and purpose to forgive sin and transgression
found in Exodus 34:6, 7. "I will n ot justify the wicked" (Exodus 23:7). The sinner
is regarded as guilty in God's sight. "The soul that sinneth shall die." "the wages
of sin is death."† And it is clear that none is capable in himself of a righteousness
acceptable to God. It is obviously impossible for a fallen creature to rise to the
standard of a perfect obedience. "It is quite impossible that any man can in himself
be right who does not render pure, perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience to
the precepts of God's law, since it is inconceivable that God could be satisfied
with less."' How then can man be acquitted of his unrighteousness and become
righteous before God?
Only Jehovah has provided such a righteousness for man. It was clearly
understood by the spiritually discerning even in Old Testament times that such
a righteousness must be provided by God Himself. "Surely, shall one say, in
Jehovah have I righteousness . . . to him shall men come. . . In Jehovah shall
all the seed of
justifieth me; who will contend with me?" (Isaiah 50:8). Isaiah further predicts
that no weapon formed against
judgment against her is to be condemned because her righteousness is of Jehovah
(Isaiah 54:17). It is this righteousness of Jehovah which the prophet further
predicts is to go forth like brightness from
and glory of a redeemed
But how was this righteousness of Jehovah to be applied to men? Again the
spiritually minded of the Old Testament dispensation clearly understood on the
one hand that the penalty of death which his sin had incurred must be borne by
an innocent sufferer and that, on t he other hand, the innocence or righteousness
of the sufferer must be applied to him. It is only on this basis that God could
declare the guilty innocent and the unrighteous righteous. Only so could Balaam
understand that Jehovah "hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen
and in that time, saith Jehovah, the
shall be none: and the sins of
them (50:20). For they were to be borne by an innocent one. Such an innocent
person is predicted in the Scriptures.
Isaiah spoke of a Servant who should be wounded for our transgressions and be bruised
for our iniquities. Upon Him Jehovah would lay the iniquity of us all and would make
His soul an offering for sin. This Servant is called "my righteous servant" who should
justify many by "bearing their iniquities." But who could that one be? Surely he could
be no mere man, for t here is no man righteous, and "none can by any means redeem his
brother, nor give to God a ransom for him" (Psalm 49:7).† Apart from the fact that such
a substitute and sufferer must of necessity be perfectly righteous himself and therefore
more than man, the Servant of Isaiah 53 is also that Servant of Isaiah 49:7, the
Holy One. He is identified by Zechariah as the Servant who is the Branch
(Zech. 3:8 -10). And that Branch is the righteous Branch of David and the
King of Jeremiah 23:5 who is also Jehovah tsidkenu--Jehovah our Righteousness.
"Thus while the Scriptures of the Old Testament took away from the Hebrew any
hope he might have in himself, they concentrated his expectations on the living God
who had specially revealed Himself to
that punishment for sin does not of itself cleanse a sinner, but that the righteousness
of the innocent sufferer must also be reckoned to the sinner if he is to stand before
Jehovah acquitted not only of Penalty but of guilt. A glimpse into this marvelous
doctrine of God's grace was given to men from the beginning. Abraham believed
God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). "Thou hast
forgiven the iniquity of thy people," 'says the psalmist, and adds, "thou hast
covered all their sin" (Psalm 85:2). And Isaiah tells us how: "I will greatly rejoice
in Jehovah for... he bath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom
decketh himself with a garland, and a bride adorneth herself with jewels"
(61:1 0, ASV).
JESUS, OUR JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU
The manifestation and provision of that righteousness of Jehovah which alone can
make men acceptable to God was fully realized in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Jehovah-
tsidkenu. In His person, character, and work as the suffering, righteous Servant of
He was worthy to be substituted for
of David He identified Himself with
truly represent us before God, and that in Him it could be sai d we have truly met
our obligations to God. Yet as Jehovah our Righteousness He is also distinct from
us so as not to be involved in our guilt.† Jesus is Himself the Righteous One.
In his great sermon at Pentecost, Peter accuses his hearers of denying the
Holy One and the Just or Righteous (Acts 3:14). Hebrews 1:8, 9 says of Him:
"Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter
of thy kingdom. Thou bast loved righteousness and hated iniquity." This is a
quotation of several Old Testament passages of which Psalm 11:7 reads, "For the
Jehovah loveth righteousness." "He, in human nature, lived up to the perfect s
tandard of the divine law, so that His righteousness was of the same complexion
and character as the righteousness of God." Still more, as one with the Father,
His righteousness was the perfect manifestation of the righteousness of God.
And then He is made righteousness to us. "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God
is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness (I Corinthians 1:30). And this He did on
His part by paying the penalty for sin in His death for us upon the cross. "For he hath
made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness
of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21). And Peter adds: "Because Christ also suffered
for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being
put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit" (I Peter 3:18, ASV). What we
could not do for ourselves, Christ did for us. Being Himself the Lawgiver, the Law
had no claim upon Him. As perfect, He perfectly obeyed the Law for us, and became
"the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Romans 10:4). In
His death for us as a perfect and worthy sacrifice, He took our guilt and paid our
So, on our part His righteousness is bestowed upon us as a free gift through faith.
submitting itself to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). This is the great
argument of Paul in Romans 3, in which, establishing the unrighteousness of man,
he Presents the righteousness of God as His grace in redemption toward us, closing
in verse 26 with the words: "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that
he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." In Philippians
3:9, applying the argument to his own experience, he places all his hopes on
being "found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law,
but that which is of the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by
faith." In Romans 5, Paul argues again that as our identity with Adam brings
us under sin and death, so our identity with Christ makes us the recipients of
the free gift of His righteousness and life (Romans 5:16-19).
Finally, the practical effect of the bestowal of the gift of His righteousness is
to set our feet on the path of righteousness in conformity to His will whose
ways are all righteousness, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity. We
are to put on the new man which is created in righteousness (Ephesians 4:24),
and being made free from sin, we have become the servants of righteousness
Jehovah-tsidkenu! Wonderful name! It reveals to us the method and the measure
of our acceptance before God; cleansed in the blood of the Lamb; clothed with
the white robe of the righteousness of Him who is Jehovah--our righteousnessó
even our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
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.
[Whitelaw, Jehovah-Jesus, pp. 102, 103].