Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 19: Jehovah Tsidkenu

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Jehovah Tsidkenu

Our focus name of God today is Jehovah Tsidkenu, which means The Lord our 
Righteousness. This name of God occurs only twice in Scripture. The first time is in Jeremiah 23:6. (This is a beautiful passage and I recommend reading it for yourself. Jeremiah 23:1-8.) Jeremiah was born during the reign of King Josiah in Judah at a time of revival in the nation. By the time Jeremiah's ministry as a prophet began, the Northern Kingdom had already been in exile and captivity for a century. There were many false prophets who said that captivity would not come to the Southern Kingdom and did not call the people to repentance. Their message was, unfortunately, well received, sin continued, and the discipline of God came. The Babylonian siege of Judah began during Jeremiah's lifetime, as well as the Babylonian exile. 

In this passage, God says, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture." God held the religious leaders responsible for preaching a false doctrine that led the people in the wrong direction, away from faith in Him. He held them responsible for scattering His flock. He speaks the words I never want Him to say to me, "Behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds." 

The most beautiful promise of God comes next, "Then, I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock... and shall bring them back to their pasture..." Jeremiah speaks prophetically here of the end time when the remnant is gathered and God Himself is the Shepherd. He speaks of a "righteous Branch", a descendant of David, who will reign as king with wisdom, justice, and righteousness. This is a reference to Jesus and the time when His people will be saved and dwell securely. "This is His name by which He will be called, Jehovah Tsidkenu." 

The second use of Jehovah Tsidkenu is in Jeremiah 33:16. In this passage, Jeremiah is in prison and the exile has already happened. He must have been discouraged and lonely. God speaks to Jeremiah in his confinement and says, "Call to Me and I will answer you." He goes on to say that, although Jeremiah looks around him and thinks that Judah has become a waste land and the cities desolate, God will restore. The Lord tells Jeremiah that good days will come again for Judah and, at that time, Jerusalem will be called Jehovah Tsidkenu

At a time when faith was all but gone, the one prophet who spoke truth was imprisoned for that truth, and the nation was in ruins, God promised that there will come a time when He will gather His people back to Himself, Christ will rule, and there will be such faith that Jerusalem will be known as the place where God's righteousness abounds. It will be called "The Lord My Righteousness" because that will be true of those who live there. 

This gives great hope for us, who are equally as faithless as Judah. If I am willing to turn back to the Lord with my whole heart, nothing held back, He can change me from the wasteland that sin causes to a life so filled with Christ that, when people look at me, they will know our Lord rules in us. How amazing is that? I can be utterly cleansed and transformed, and so can you. The most amazing part of this is that there is no one so far from God that they cannot be brought back to Him! 

The discipline of exile came because the people sinned, and they sinned intentionally. They liked what they were doing and did not want change, but God did not lose sight of them, even in their exile, and He does not lose sight of us or of those we love. No matter how far sin takes us, God sees and is there. No matter how desolate and hopeless our life appears, God can still restore.

With that beautiful promise, there is one way to honor the name of Jehovah Tsidkenu. We must allow Him to become our righteousness by cleansing us and transforming us. Incredibly, after cleansing and transforming, there is even more promised to us. When we call to Him, He will not only answer, but will tell us "great and mighty things which you do not know." Taught by God Himself! 

There is nothing sin offers that can compare to the beauty of a life lived for our Lord, our Teacher, our Redeemer, and our Righteousness. Let us invite Him to have His way in your life, and in mine, today.