Jehovah Our Righteousness (Yahweh-Tsidkenu)

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name by which he shall be called: Yahweh our righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:6

What does it mean that Jehovah is described as “Our Righteousness”?

In Jer 23:6, the Hebrew word translated ‘righteousness’, is tsidkenu (צדקנוּ – H3072). It is derived from the word tzedek (צדק – H6664), meaning ‘right’, or ‘equity’, but with a pronominal suffix, so it becomes first person plural: “our righteousness”. It only occurs in this form in one other verse of the Hebrew scriptures:

Jer 33:[16] In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name by which she shall be called: Yahweh our righteousness.

The Septuagint translates tzedek in Jeremiah 23:6 as a proper name, Jozedek (Ἰωσεδἐκ), apparently referring the prophecy to Joshua, the son of Jozedek (Hag 1:1, 12; Ezr 3:2, 8; Ezr 5:2; Neh 12:26). But in Jeremiah 33:16, the word tzedek is translated as dikaios (δίκαιος – G1342), meaning ‘righteous’:

Mat 1:[19] But her husband to be Joseph being just {dikaios}, and not willing to make her a public example, he purposed to put her away secretly.

Mar 2:[17] And hearing, Jesus said to them, Those who are strong have no need of a physician, but those who have illness. I did not come to call the righteous {dikaios} to repentance, but sinners.

Rom 3:[26] for the showing forth of His righteousness {δικαιοσύνη – G1343} in the present time, for His being just {dikaios} and justifying {δικαιόω – G1344} the one that is of the faith of Jesus.

Heb 10:[38] “But the just {dikaios} shall live by faith;” “and if he draws back,” “My soul is not pleased in him.”

1Pe 3:[18] Because even Christ once suffered concerning sins, the just {dikaios} for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;

Note the subtle change in Jer 33:16. Even though it is clearly a parallel verse with Jer 23:6, the object pronoun has been changed from “he“, to “she“. How is this possible?

It is because of the dotrine of federal headship, which is the teaching that the the king represents the people so intimately that what is done to him is done to them, and vice versa (2Sa 24, 2Ki 11:7, Ps 72, Zec 13:7, Joh 11:50). This is reflected in the intimacy of the covenant of marriage (Gen 3:16, Mal 2:14-16, 1Co 11:3, 1Co 12:12-30, Eph 5:23). As a husband “rules” over his wife, but also represents her within the covenant of marriage, so a king rules over his people, and represents them:

2Sa 5:[3] So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a covenant with them in Hebron before Yahweh; and they anointed David king over Israel.

2Ki 11:[17] Jehoiada made a covenant between Yahweh and the king and the people, that they should be Yahweh’s people; between the king also and the people.

This leads us into the main doctrine that is being taught in Jeremiah 23:6, which is imputation. To impute is a legal term, meaning to charge to the account of someone.

The perfect righteousness that Jesus Christ established is imputed to every one of God’s people in time. Because of this imputed righteousness, they are declared blameless before God and reconciled to God. Christ’s righteousness imputed demands God’s favor and fellowship toward them. [Job 29:14; Psa 32:2; Psa 85:10-11; Isa 53:11; Isa 61:10; Jer 23:5-6; Rom 3:21-22; Rom 4:6-8; Rom 5:9-11,17-19; Rom 8:1,31-39; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:18-21; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:21-22; Tit 3:6-7]

Christian Confession of Faith IV.C.3

Here are some of the verses to which the Confession refers:

Isa 53:[11] He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul; He shall be fully satisfied. By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify for many, and He shall bear their iniquities. (LITV)

Rom 4:[6] Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works, [7] “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin.”

1Co 5:[19] namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Jesus Christ, the true king of Israel, established righteousness for his people by laying down his life on the cross, and on their behalf paying the price that their sins deserved. This righteousness is then imputed to them, or charged to their account, when they believe the Gospel. It makes them to be as holy and righteous, in the eyes of God, as Jesus Christ himself. And being considered as righteous as Jesus, they are just as entitled to God’s eternal favor and fellowship as Jesus himself. The imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ secures their everlasting salvation:

At the same time a sinner is regenerated, he is adopted into God’s family and set apart from the world. He is counted to be as holy and acceptable before God as Jesus Christ Himself, is made to be at peace with God, and enters into fellowship with God based on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. [Job 29:14; Psa 85:8; Isa 26:3; Isa 32:17; Isa 61:10; Joh 1:12; Joh 17:21-23; Rom 3:22; Rom 4:6-8; Rom 5:1-2,19; Rom 8:14-17,33-39; 1Co 1:30; 1Co 6:11; 2Co 5:21; Gal 3:26; 4:5-7; Eph 1:4-5; Eph 2:14-19; Eph 3:11-12; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:20-22; 2Th 2:13; Tit 3:7; Heb 2:10-11; 1Jo 1:3; 3:1; Rev 21:7]

Christian Confession of Faith, V.C.2

These are some of the verses that the Confession refers to:

Job 29:[14] I put on righteousness and it clothed me; my judgment was like a robe and a diadem.

Rom 5:[1] Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [2] through whom also we have had access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we glory on the hope of the glory of God.

Eph 5:[25] Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up on its behalf, [26] that He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of the water in the Word, [27] that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such things, but that it be holy and without blemish.

But the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to his people couldn’t have happened without a prior imputation, which is the imputation of his people’s sin to Jesus’ account:

The consummate act of obedience that Jesus Christ paid to the law was in suffering the ultimate penalty for the disobedience of His people that the law demanded. Thus, while upon the cross, Jesus Christ, as a perfect representative, substitute, and sacrifice for His people, became a curse for His people and suffered the unmitigated fury of God the Father, which was equivalent to suffering the very pains of hell. This was not for any guilt He had contracted Himself but for the sins of His people. Their guilt was imputed to Him, and He suffered the penalty their sins deserved. His finished work on the cross appeased God’s wrath in full toward all for whom He died and paid the ransom price in full for all for whom He died, guaranteeing the salvation of all for whom He died. [Gen 22:13; Exo 12:3-13; Lev 16:21-22; Lev 17:11; Psa 22:1-18; Psa 32:1; Isa 53:1-12; Dan 9:24-26; Zec 13:7; Mat 26:28; Mat 27:35-50; Mar 15:24-37; Luk 23:33-46; Luk 24:46; Joh 11:49-52; Joh 19:16-30; Act 17:3; Act 20:28; Rom 3:24-25; Rom 5:6-11; 1Co 1:30; 1Co 5:7; 1Co 6:20; 1Co 15:3; 2Co 5:21; Gal 1:4; Gal 2:20; Gal 3:13; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:7; Eph 2:13-17; Col 1:14,20-22; Col 2:13-14; 1Th 5:10; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:9-10,17; Heb 9:12-14,26-28; Heb 10:10-18; Heb 13:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 1Pe 2:24; 1Pe 3:18; 1Jo 1:7; 1Jo 2:2; 1Jo 3:5; 1Jo 4:10; Rev 1:5; Rev 5:9]

Christian Confession of Faith, IV.C.2

Some of the verses to which this section of the Confession refers:

Dan 9:[26] And after sixty two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of a coming prince shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, and war shall be until the end.

Act 20:[28] Then take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit placed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased through His own blood.

Rom 3:[24] being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood, for a showing forth of His righteousness through the passing by of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God,

2Co 5:[21] For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

So the doctrine of Double Imputation is foundational to the Gospel. The sins of God’s people were imputed to Christ as the federal head of his people, and he suffered and died on the cross to turn aside the wrath of God against their sins. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to his people, and as a result, they can never again be condemned for their sins.

This is why the doctrine of Universal Atonement is condemned by the Christian Confession of Faith:

Those who deny the effectual work of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that the blood of Jesus Christ atoned for everyone without exception (including those in hell), deny the very heart of the gospel. They do not believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, these self-righteous boasters believe that it is the effort of the sinner that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. These blasphemers deny that Jesus Christ made full satisfaction for sins and that Jesus Christ accomplished and ensured salvation for all whom He represented. They trample underfoot the precious blood of Jesus Christ, treating it as something of no value. They glory and boast in themselves, for whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one glories and boasts in. There is not a single one of these blasphemers who is a child of God. [Psa 25:14; Psa 74:18; Psa 94:4; Psa 139:20; Pro 30:12-13; Isa 28:14-18; Isa 42:8; Isa 48:11; Joh 16:8-14; Rom 3:27-28; Rom 4:2; Rom 10:3; Rom 16:17-18; 1Co 2:12; 2Co 10:3-6; Gal 1:8-9; 6:14; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:18-19; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:2-5; 2Ti 4:3-4; Heb 10:29; 1Jo 2:22-23; 4:6; 2Jo 1:9]

Christian Confession of Faith, IV.C.6

Universal Atonement teaches that the sins of the world were imputed to Christ, but his redeeming blood was ineffectual to turn aside the wrath of God on most of them. It teaches that the blood requires something extra, specifically the free-will decision of the sinner, before it is allowed to actually turn aside the wrath of God against the sinner. This is a denial of the Gospel, and a denial that “Jehovah [is] our righteousness”.

Praise God for his precious Gospel, of the work of Christ to turn aside the wrath of God against the sins of his people that were imputed to him, and of the righteousness of Christ imputed to his people. Hallelujah!

2 Bless’d is the man to whom the Lord
imputeth not his sin,
And in whose sp’rit there is no guile,
nor fraud is found therein.

Psalm 32, Psalms of David in Metre

See Also:

Justification & Imputation

The Holy One

IV. Christology – The Doctrine of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ