Summary: A Study of the Names of God - Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our Righteousness
Getting to Know God – Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our Righteousness, Jer 23:1-6
Let’s pause and pray . Lord, it is amazing that you are a such a holy God, who is interested in having a relationship with us. This is such a radical concept that you would seek us out and make a way for us to be right with you. Lord for what you have done through Christ, we thank you yet we ask that you help us to understand this concept a bit clearer today.
One of the finest steamers afloat on Lake Champlain in Vermont, USA was the steamer "Champlain.’’ Cheer after cheer went up when she slid from her moorings on the dry-dock into the waters of the lake. Her machinery was perfect, her crew well trained, and the passengers on her for her maiden voyage were enthusiastic. Then suddenly something seemed to be wrong with the steamer’s engine’s machinery and a stop was ordered so that the fault might be found and fixed. The captain ordered them to let down the anchor because there was a strong wind blowing and she was drifting rapidly towards the rocks. The captain shouted again, "Down with the anchor." and the sailors responded that the order had been previously obeyed. The anchor was down, but she continued to drift. At last, the fault in the engine was found and the engine started which prevented the new steamer ending up on the rocks. Then it was found that while the anchor had been cast out, the chain was three feet too short to touch the bottom of the lake. Yes they had an anchor that would do the job, but a miscalculation meant that it was useless. It fell short of what was required to anchor the boat securely.
This is exactly what it is like for people who claim to be righteous apart from Jesus’ death and resurrection. They think they have it all under control – They have their anchor, they have all they need to keep themselves safe from an eternity in hell. They do lots of good things, but they have miscalculated. The things which they are relying on to gain righteousness before God are not enough. They have fallen short and will end up on the rocks.
Okay, let’s just hold it there. Before I go any further, I need to define this term Righteousness because we’ll be using it a lot today. By righteousness, we mean living a holy and upright lifestyle. It comes from a word that means “straightness.” So it has connotations of a lifestyle that conforms with some authoritative and absolute standard – God’s moral standard. But it means so much more than obeying a moral code. It also has a legal and a relational meaning.In regards to relationships, righteous action is action that promotes the peace and well-being of the people in the relationship. When this relates to our relationship with God, we return to the concept of a holy and upright lifestyle. The only thing that can bring peace with God is to measure up to his standard. We need to be perfect in order to have a relationship with a perfect God. In regards to the legal meaning, a righteous decision requires that justice must be done. God must act righteously in his dealings with us whether this means he rewards us or punishes us and this is decided on the basis of our observance of his moral standards.
Back to those people who have a problem with their anchor. They seek to be righteous – to be in line with the standard which they believe will gain them eternal life. Sometimes this is God’s standard, sometimes it is a standard they have decided for themselves. They hope that they can please God by the things they do. And yes they do good things and these things please God, but it falls short of what is required to do the job. Just like the short anchor - it is not enough to become right with God and never can be. And as a result, God judges them.
There was a church which once ran a competition to find the most high-principled, sober, well-behaved local citizen.
Among the entries came one which read: “I don’t smoke. I don’t touch intoxicants. I don’t gamble. I am faithful to my wife and never ever look at another woman. I am hard-working, quiet and obedient. I never go to the movies or the theatre, and I go to bed early every night and rise with the dawn. I attend chapel regularly every Sunday without fail. I’ve been like this for the past three years. But just wait till they let me out of here!”
Righteousness as defined by a set of good actions can be quite misleading. We are not able to live up to God’s perfect standards, not one of us. And so in relation to our relationship with God, righteousness is this ever illusive almost mythical state of affairs. So what is the solution? How can we be found righteous? The prophet Jeremiah had the answer. He pointed the people to God. He recommended that they get to know God as Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord who is our righteousness.