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January 2022 GPS

We began our study of names by looking at the way names reveal something about the nature/character of the one who bears the name. We then looked at what some of the names of God tell us about His nature or character. Although there are many more examples of names for God in the Bible, we will conclude our study of His names for now with one last example. This name is especially precious for two reasons. First, we need to have hope for the future when we see governments in various parts of the world making decisions and taking actions that are morally wrong. We wonder if there is any hope for a future where all government for the world will be just. This name assures us that there will come a day when the government that rules the world will be just and righteous.

Second, we need hope when we look at ourselves and recognize how far short we fall from God’s standards of holiness. If God is just, and He is, and we are so guilty, and we are, what hope is there for us to be right in His eyes?

The last name we will look at gives us a sure and certain hope for our own future as well. The name we will consider is “The LORD our righteousness.” The prophet Jeremiah lived and ministered at a time in history when the Babylonians ruled the near east, including Israel. In his lifetime Jerusalem would be conquered and many of his people would be deported. The walls of the city were flattened and the Temple of Solomon was utterly destroyed. Jeremiah knew that all of that destruction was coming because of the sins of the nation. Most of the kings of Judah who had reigned over the nation had been evil and had made disastrous decisions. Was there any hope? In that horrible situation, Jeremiah wrote: ““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5–6, NASB95)

As in the other uses of names of God, this one also describes His nature/character. The basic meaning of the root word for “righteous” or “righteousness” is that which conforms to the correct standard. A helpful example is: “You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:36, ESV) The Hebrew word here translated “just” is another form of the same word translated “righteousness” in the Jeremiah passage. In other words, Israelites were to make sure that the measurements they used to conduct business would conform to the standard that was right. They were to be accurate. It would be like our saying today, “Make sure your gallon really is a gallon.” Make sure your measurement conforms to the correct standard.

In the Jeremiah passage quoted above, that is exactly the point that was being made about the One whose coming was being prophesied. In verses 1-2 of chapter 23, the Lord had pronounced woes upon the shepherds (kings) over His people who had mistreated the sheep. They had not measured up to the standard of the way shepherds should behave, so He pronounced judgment on them. Then, in verses 3-4, He promised to regather His sheep and to give to them shepherds that would take good care of the sheep. Then, in verses 5-6, the LORD promises something greater still. He will raise up for David a righteous branch who will reign wisely and execute justice and righteousness. In His days the whole nation, north and south, would be rescued and dwell in security. Of course this was a prophecy of the Messiah, God’s Anointed. The name of this promised One would be, “The LORD [is] our righteousness.” (ESV) The behavior of the coming King will conform to the way a godly King should behave. Furthermore, in some way He, Himself, as to His nature or character, will conform to God’s standard of holiness. Not only would this coming One be righteous Himself and reign righteously, but in some way He would be the righteousness of the nation. How could that be? I think we find help to answer that question from the Apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Paul describes the change that God brings about in a person when he or she is born again, regenerated. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17–19, ESV) The believer becomes a new person. God does not count their trespasses against them but rather God reconciles them to Himself. For that reason, as an ambassador of Christ Paul pleads with people to accept that reconciliation. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV) How is it possible for God, who is just, not to count our trespasses against us? The answer is in verse 21. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) Jesus became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. He is our righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own. “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6, ESV) His righteousness becomes our righteousness. The same was the case with believers in Jeremiah’s day.