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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 23

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 6

‘JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU’

‘The Lord our Righteousness.’

Jeremiah 23:6

I. We may view the text as simply an announcement of important truth.—It stands there on the sacred page like a profound oracular utterance from the hidden shrine of truth, given forth for our enlightenment and everlasting benefit. (1) The Lord is our righteousness, inasmuch as the purpose and plan of justifying sinners originated with Him. (2) The Lord is our righteousness, inasmuch as He Himself alone has procured righteousness for us. (3) The Lord is our righteousness, inasmuch as it is through His grace and by His free donation that we receive righteousness.

II. These words may be contemplated as the utterance of personal belief and confidence.—Here we present to our minds the view of a body of persons who avow and proclaim that the Lord is their righteousness; and who know, reverence, and confide in God as thus apprehended. They have no confidence in the flesh, their trust is in God alone. They look not to works of charity, or self-denial, or penance, for acceptance with God; they ask only to be accepted in the Beloved. They know in Whom they have believed, and therefore they do not hesitate to stand up and avow before the world that all their trust and all their hope are in that worthy name, The Lord our Righteousness. In their lips this is the language (1) of faith; (2) of hope; (3) of joy and gratitude.

III. We may contemplate the text as a directory to the inquirer.—Sinners are supposed to be anxious to know the way of acceptance with God. Conscious of guilt, they feel their need of a justifying righteousness in order that they may stand without blame before the moral Governor of the universe. With them, therefore, the foremost and most pressing question is, How may I, a sinner, be righteous before God? To such the words of my text give a brief but most satisfactory answer. They are a proclamation from God Himself, that in Him is the salvation of the sinner found. They direct the inquirer away from self, away from all creature help, away from all methods of personal or sacerdotal propitiation, and carry his thoughts to God—to God in Christ, as the sole author and bestower of righteousness. The Lord is our righteousness, and He alone. His voice to the lost and guilty sons of men is, ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE PROPHETIC NAME OF CHRIST

This is the name which was to be given to the ‘Righteous Branch’ that was to be raised unto David in the days to come. These words are, therefore, a standing monument of an onward-looking hope. The main point which we have to grasp firmly, and by no means to let go, is that here, if anywhere, there is a prophecy of the times of the Messiah, which is known to have been given before the Captivity, and was undeniably not fulfilled for many centuries to come after it. The prophecy was given in the last days of the Jewish monarchy. It is utterly impossible that it could have been fulfilled in Zedekiah. But as he was the last king, there was no one else to whom it could apply until He came, Who died with the inscription over His head, ‘This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,’ showing Himself thereby as at once the eternal King and the unchangeable Priest.

Believing, then, as we do most firmly, that this is the prophetic name of Christ, and of Christ alone, what is it designed to teach us?

I. That the Son of David and King of Israel is the source of our righteousness, the exhibition and presentation of it before our consciences and unto the Father.—Christ is to us the realisation of righteousness. It is no longer an unattainable conception or an abstract idea, but in Him it becomes a concrete fact, on which we can lay hold, and a thing which we can appropriate and possess. He becomes first ‘righteousness,’ and then ‘ our righteousness.’ As St. Paul says of Him, He ‘is made unto us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’

II. If this is the obverse or positive presentation of the truth, it has also its reverse or negative side.—If the name whereby Christ is called ‘the Lord our Righteousness,’ that fact is destructive of all other hopes, prospects, or sources of righteousness. See, then, the bearing of this truth: I am a sinner. ‘In me—that is, in my flesh—dwelleth no good thing.’ If then, I am to be righteous, it cannot be by my becoming so, because in that case my sinlessness would be my righteousness, a statement which is directly opposed to the truth implied in the name, ‘the Lord our Righteousness.’

And yet this is a truth of which the vast majority of men, even of religious men, are profoundly ignorant. They do not understand that, as the origin of righteousness must be Christ alone, so also the basis of the hope of righteousness must be not in themselves, their character, or their conduct, but simply and solely in Him Who is Himself the Righteousness for which they eagerly long, but for which they fruitlessly hunger and thirst. Behold in Him your righteousness. Look away from and out of yourselves to Him, and be righteous.

It is in the highest degree fit and proper that the venerable and emphatic words should stand as they do thus prominently in the services of the last Sunday of the Christian year. For—

III. They have a two-fold message. They look before and after.—(1) They concern the past, with its terrible blot and stain, its golden, but departed and lost opportunities, its irreparable mistakes, its unfulfilled and irrecoverable promises, its sin and sorrow, its struggles and its failures. And looking back upon them the words rise up before us like the Sun of Righteousness Himself with healing in His wings. They remind us that ‘where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.’ To know that ‘the Lord is our righteousness,’ is to know that which can alone enable us to contemplate the past with equanimity and serenity, that which can alone take the sting out of sin, and rob even the broken law of its terror.

(2) But we have to face the future, as well as to look back upon the past. And in that future we know not what may lurk. But if the Lord is our righteousness, and if He Who is our righteousness is the Lord, the very and eternal God Himself, then, come what may, we must be safe with Him. If we are righteous as He is righteous, then we may know that, as He is, so are we in this world, and therefore may have confidence in the hour of death and at the day of judgment, because we have been assured that ‘neither death nor life,’ etc. ( Romans 8:38-39).

Professor Stanley Leathes.

Illustration

‘I need Christ as the Lord my Righteousness.

That means that He must obey and suffer and die for me. Rather than that I should perish, He must offer in my room the strange and costly sacrifice of Himself. He must make me acceptable and righteous in my Judge’s and my Father’s eyes.

This salvation, purchased and ensured so marvellously, is the only one that satisfies me, once my conscience is thoroughly aroused. When I have been taught by God the Spirit what I deserve and what I am, I can be contented with nothing else than the doing and dying of Jesus in my place. I cry out for just such a propitiation as He presented. I cling to the Cross of the Lamb of God. I cannot do without my stricken and prevailing Saviour. He becomes all my hope and glory.

Do I believe and know that God has made Him sin that I might in Him be righteousness?’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 23". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/jeremiah-23.html. 1876.
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