July 27, 2023

Jehovah Tsidkenu Manuscript

Date: 7/30/2023
Series: Hello, My Name is…
Sermon Title: Jehovah Tsidkenu
Text: Jeremiah 23:1-8
Speaker: Justin Stiles

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Welcome / Introduction

Hello, church! For those who don’t know me, my name is Justin Stiles and I’m one of the elders here at Gateway Church. Whether you’re here with us at our County Road 9 or North Main Campuses or you’re joining us online, I’m honored to be with you today to share God’s word. A little bit about me: I’m married to Anne, and we have five children: Easton, Elyse, Robert, Chandler, and Randy. The last time I preached, we were fostering Robert and Randy, and I’m happy to share we’ve since adopted them! It’s been a wonderful and eventful journey to adopting them and we’re so grateful for the blessing they have become to us. As I said, I serve as one of the elders here and I think there is one more important fact about me worth pointing out: I hold the title as the elder who spent the most time in the dunk tank at our annual volunteer extravaganza last month! I think it’s proof there isn’t anything I won’t do for the wonderful people of this church. 

This year, several staff members and elders have spent time in a series teaching about the names of God. Today, we’re going to learn about another name of God: Jehovah Tsidkenu, which is translated as The Lord Is Righteousness.

Introduce the Text

We find Jehovah Tsidkenu in the book of Jeremiah. Before we read the specific passage, I want to spend a little time talking about Jeremiah the Prophet and what the Israelites were up to during his life. Jeremiah lived in Judah, which was the southern kingdom between the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and he lived from the mid 600s to the early 500s BC. The kingdom of Judah had enjoyed a time of prosperity and security, but they were now very poor and deprived spiritually. If you’ve read through the books of Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles, you may be aware that in the long line of kings of Israel and Judah, there are quite a few kings, and most of them were terrible and led their people away from God. It wasn’t any different by the time Jeremiah arrived on the scene; King Mannaseh had pledged allegiance to the Assyrian deities and idols, and the Judeans followed suit. Amon, Mannaseh’s son, you would hope would want to take the kingdom in a different direction than his father, but he chose the same path. Things didn’t work out all that stellar for Amon as some palace servants assassinated him. Who did the palace officials have in mind to replace Amon? Surely one would think their candidate in waiting would be wise, fair, competent, experienced, maybe have the ability to lead and govern with strength and grace. Nope, they gave the job to his son, Josiah, an eight-year-old. You know you’ve done a bang-up job when you’re overthrown and assassinated and your job is given to an eight-year-old! Thankfully, King Josiah desired to follow and serve God, casting aside the idols of his dad and grandpa. While Josiah was in charge, he funded the repair of the Temple and during repair of the Temple, the Book of Law was found. Hilkah, a priest at the time, read it to Josiah and he was so distraught hearing God’s laws and instructions for his people, and he desired to set the kingdom on the right path. The reminder about God’s laws pointed out Judah’s sins and was inspiration for Jeremiah’s prophecies. Josiah wanted the Judeans to worship the Lord, and he decided to lead by example. He purged artifacts people used in worshiping Baal and the sun, destroyed pagan shrines, and began observing Passover. Josiah’s reign ended when he perished in a battle with Egyptian forces and Jehoiakim was made king of Judah. Jehoiakim returned Judah back to its ways of pagan worship and vehemently opposed Jeremiah’s messages to God’s people. Following Jehoiakim was King Jehoiachin, but he lasted until the Babylonians defeated Judah, and they installed a ruler of their choice in King Zedekiah. Zedekiah appealed to Jeremiah often for wisdom but did not possess the courage to follow Jeremiah’s godly advice. Zedekiah followed the advice of the palace officials instead, including breaking off the covenant with the Babylonian king. As you can imagine, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, took this about as well as you’d expect and he ordered his army to capture the city of Jerusalem. After more than two years of battle, the Babylonians broke through Jerusalem’s walls and captured the city, ending the Kingdom of Judah and rendering it completely under the authority of Babylon.

While most of the leaders of the kingdom of Judah were leading the Judeans away from God, Jeremiah was pronouncing messages of judgment to the leaders from God. Jeremiah was warning the leaders of the devastating consequences of their actions if they refused to repent of their wicked ways. God’s people were engaging in pagan worship, rituals, and festivals, and engaging in immoral sexual behavior. Through Jeremiah, God judged Judah for their pagan worship and, once again, warned of consequences if they didn’t repent: he (God) would allow the Babylonians to invade from the north. In one of his messages, Jeremiah says this, in Jeremiah 23:1-8

1What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord. 2Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. 3But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken! 5“For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 6And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. 7“In that day,” says the Lord , “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 8Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Jeremiah spends much of his prophetic days laying some epic smackdowns on the Judeans, for good reason; let’s break down what he’s saying here and how the Name of God, Jehovah Tsidkenu, or the Lord is Righteousness, comes up in the passage. 

First, in verse 1-2a, Jeremiah calls out Judah’s leaders.

1What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people—the shepherds of my sheep—for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord. 2Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds:

You can see Jeremiah refer to the leaders as shepherds. Even if you’re not a Christian, you’re probably aware of what a shepherd is supposed to do – take care of sheep and keep them safe. Sheep need fed, need cleaned, need to be kept from fighting, need guided, and directed in the right direction. They also need to be protected from predators. The kings and government officials were appointed by God to care for the Israelites and as I mentioned before, most of the kings in Jeremiah’s days as prophet fell far short of the call of a shepherd. They oppressed the people and led them to idolatry. This path of idolatry led the nation into captivity and scattered the people of Judea. See v. 2b-4:

“Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them. 3But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!

God says he’s going to pour out judgment for the evil the leaders have done to the people. One of the central themes of this book is repent, turn from your ways, or there will be punishment. Notice what God says beyond the judgment – he’ll gather a remnant of his flock where he has driven them. In this we see the leaders – the shepherds – drove the people away into the hands of the Babylonians. Ultimately, this driving away is attributed to God; he carried out the penalty brought on the people by their sins and by the sins of their leaders (Frank Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 6. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986, Jeremiah 23:3-4). But this part of the prophecy contains hope: God says he’ll gather a remnant, or a portion of his people, and bring them back into the flock, where they’ll be fruitful. This was referring to what God would do after the Judeans were in exile by the Babylonians; they’d eventually return, and God would appoint responsible, good shepherds to watch over them. This remnant was the part of God’s people who repented and demonstrated commitment to God’s laws; this promise wasn’t for everyone. This was a way to cleanse his nation, to remove his elect, those who took his law seriously. When Jeremiah mentions God would bring his people back to their land, this would’ve been a welcome part of the prophecy. The Judeans had been under threat from the Assyrians and Babylonians, so knowing they would be restored was pretty good news. They were also pretty excited to know there would be better shepherds to guide and care for them. Consider this for a moment: what if the Judeans had just repented and turned from their sinful ways? Would they need to find solace in the fact they would return to Judea after being pushed out of their land? Why not just pick the path of repentance? We should ask ourselves this question as well. Why stay on a path of wading and mucking through the mess of our sin? Why not just repent now and turn to God?

In Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah continues his word from the Lord:

5“For the time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. 6And this will be his name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety.

Jeremiah spent a bunch of time witnessing the evil of the leaders and the people and warning them what God will do, but the words fell flat. Save for a few years that looked promising under King Josiah, the Judeans weren’t showing any signs of relenting in their sinful behaviors. Whether as a child or a parent, you may be able to relate. Imagine you’re four or five years old eating at a restaurant with your parents. The server brings out food, and some of the plates are hot. You heard “hot plate” and knew that meant you immediately had to reach out and touch it. Your parents, thinking ahead, block your attempt and repeat the information that the plate is hot, and it could hurt you. “Is it though,” you think? You try to sneak your hand over to the plate to see for yourself. 

Blocked again. Ooooh look, dad and mom are distracted by their grown-up slushies. You reach for the plate, make contact, and now your hand is melting off. You scream at the top of your lungs while your parents console you and again remind you that you shouldn’t have touched the hot plate. I can imagine that’s how Jeremiah may have felt – like the parent warning the children not to touch the hot plate, only to have them go ignore the advice. I know many of you have been through something similar. Here in this passage, Jeremiah is giving a promise of salvation, which is good for both Jeremiah and the Jewish people. Imagine being a prophet and having to pronounce gloomy messages from God nearly all the time – so receiving and transmitting a word from God that includes the hope of the Messiah is probably pretty refreshing. Here, Jeremiah shares a warning, but also gets to attach a promise of ultimate hope, a righteous descendant from David’s line. Let me explain the reference. For prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, they proclaimed promises from God that a Savior would be coming from the line of David. David here is “The” King David, who ruled around 400 years prior, and during a time when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were united. God promised the Savior, the Messiah, would come from David’s lineage. We read in Isaiah 9:6-7:

6For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Here, Isaiah is prophesying about Jesus, and tells God’s people that Jesus will come from his ancestor David. You can read the family lineage of Jesus if you read Matthew 1:1-17 to see how we get all the way from Abraham to David to Jesus. We also see in 2 Corinthians 1:20:

20For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

…which is an affirmation that God’s prophecies in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Before our passage in Jeremiah 23, Jeremiah sharply rebuked the three kings. Let’s see what Jeremiah had to say about those kings:

First, the three kings in general in Jeremiah 22:1-5:

1This is what the Lord said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him, 2Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. 3This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! 4If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. 5But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”

Then, about the government, all of the king’s ministers and officials – as we remember – it wasn’t just the kings neglecting to care for their people, but many of the people working for them. Look in Jeremiah 22:8-9:

8“People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the Lord destroy such a great city?’ 9And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the Lord their God by worshiping other gods.’”

Then, we get to the kings, a bit more detail about them. First, regarding King Jehoahaz in Jeremiah 22:11-12

11For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz, who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. 12He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”

Regarding King Jehoiakim in Jeremiah 22:17

17“But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, 

oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”

And lastly, regarding King Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 22:24-27

24“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. 25I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian army. 26I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. 27You will never again return to the land you yearn for.

So, when Jeremiah talks about a righteous descendant, this would be a complete contrast to the three kings that Judah had experienced. Instead of oppression, foolishness, tyranny, debauchery – the hope of righteousness, justice, and wisdom! Jeremiah says that this will be his name: The Lord is Our Righteousness, or Jehovah Tsidkenu.

The Lord is Righteousness

So, what of this name of God, The Lord is Our Righteousness? Several times in the Old Testament, the Jewish people had been promised a savior or messiah, and these promises had been long in the making. We see over and over again God’s people losing their faith and turning away from God; a thousand times they’ve acted in ways unworthy of salvation, but God would still honor his promise to bring forth a savior from the line of David (John Calvin, Commentaries on The Prophet Jeremiah and The Lamentations, Vol. I. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2009, Jeremiah 23:5-6). Jeremiah contrasts the wickedness of the kings of Judea with the justice and righteousness of Jesus. At the time Jeremiah gave this prophecy, King Zedekiah was ruling, and Jehovah Tsidkenu was a sort of reversal of Zedekiah’s name (Tsidqiyyahu), which means Righteous is the Lord. However, Zedekiah’s rule was marred by his broken character and tumultuous rule, the opposite of how God rules over us. The other place in Scripture we can see righteousness ascribed to God by Jeremiah is in Jeremiah 9:24:

24But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!

We learn here that God brings justice and righteousness to the earth; he deals with us in an ethical manner according to his Word and Himself. Further, we see God delights in these things! God derives joy from redeeming sinners, not from judging and punishing them, and God always does what is right (The New Living Translation Illustrated Study Bible. Carol Stream: Tyndale. Footnote on Jeremiah 9:24).

What does The Lord is Righteousness mean? In our text, Jeremiah contrasted the Messiah’s righteousness with the wickedness of the earthly kings of Judah. But, what does a righteous Jesus have to offer? The promise of a good shepherd, a better shepherd was certainly alluring for the Judeans. But what would the Judeans make of the righteous descendant of David? What could Jesus offer them an earthly king couldn’t? Kings are supposed to take care of their people and watch out for their well-being; they’re supposed to defend their people from oppressors and enemy nations. But Judah’s kings failed miserably. However, Jesus knows what is right and best; he provides people with wisdom and knowledge; executes judgment and righteousness; defends the innocent; aids the oppressed; helps the miserable; restrains the wicked; and regenerates us by the Holy Spirit. Earthly kings are impressively good at leading themselves and their people astray; this isn’t to say some can’t be good rulers and shepherds. Jesus’s righteousness is perfect in every way and he shepherds us with an overwhelming and unfathomable love.

We see in the last part of our passage in Jeremiah 23:7-8

7“In that day,” says the Lord , “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’ 8Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

Jeremiah compares Israel’s deliverance from Egypt when they were freed from slavery with God’s deliverance of his people from their sin. If you didn’t grow up in church, the Israelites were living in Egypt, and they were held captive by Pharoah; you can read this story in Exodus 1-12. Pharoah treated them harshly and subjected them to very cruel working conditions to build up his kingdom. God appoints Moses to go and rescue the Israelites, God’s people, from the oppression of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In Exodus 3:7-10, God calls out to Moses:

7Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

If you read further, God brings ten plagues to the Egyptians before Pharaoh orders Moses to take the Israelites out the land. Pharaoh changes his mind and runs after them, but God allows the Israelites to cross the Red Sea to begin their journey to the land God promised them. This rescue was incredible; 2.5 million Israelites were freed from the slavery they endured at the hands of the Egyptians! It’s very tough to even comprehend a whole nation being freed like this, but that’s the work of our mighty God! The Israelites could understand the comparison that Jeremiah was giving; they knew the story of their people and how incredible it was for God to rescue their ancestors from the Egyptians. Jeremiah was speaking of the Israelites’ physical rescue from the Babylonians, and he was also alluding to an even greater rescue. He’s talking about how Jesus Christ will rescue and redeem his people. Deliverance and rescue from the captivity of brokenness and sin is far greater and valuable than deliverance and rescue from the captivity of godless nations. Each time God rescues the Israelites, it can be seen as a prelude of the Great Rescue to come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (John Calvin, Commentaries on The Prophet Jeremiah and The Lamentations, Vol. I. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2009, Jeremiah 23:7-8).

Righteousness For Us

What do we do with Jeremiah’s message to Judah’s leaders? Do we have anything to learn? How can we think about the name of God, Jehovah Tsidkenu, or the Lord Is Our Righteousness? First, because the Lord Is Our Righteousness, we need to take God’s warnings seriously, and not because we think God is just on our case about cleaning our act up. Yes, there is a warning that we must not ignore. Remember what God promised would happen if the Judeans continued to worship idols; God promised they’d be forced into captivity by the Babylonians. The people of Judah had a lot going for them – their land, their great city of Jerusalem, their freedom. They’d also enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. But, as they fell further away from God and his calling for their life, they were blinded and enslaved to their pagan worship. Giving up their lifestyle seemed like too great a loss; even the thought of losing their city, their temple, their security wasn’t enough to move them to repentance. Would God really lead them to exile? Would God really destroy their city and temple? This seemed unbelievable to the people, so they dismissed Jeremiah’s warnings. What’s the other side we should see here? God still calls the people his people. They were arrogant; they were callous; they were sinful. But He still called them his people. God calls them “my flock.” Think about a time where someone wronged you in some way. Maybe a friend betrayed your trust, or maybe a family member humiliated you. A natural reaction we can have is to place distance between us and them. We don’t even feel like talking, so you can rule out reconciling. What happens though when you decide to act in love and pursue that friend? When you offer forgiveness? Now, I’m not saying there’s not still consequences or baggage to work through in a situation like this, but how beautiful is it when we still call them our friend? To a degree we cannot fathom, God pursues us and calls us his, even when we are doing him wrong. We read in Romans 5:8-9:

8But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die or us while we were still sinners. 9And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.

Christ’s Righteousness Is Our Righteousness

Because the Lord is Our Righteousness, Christ’s righteousness is counted as our own. So, we just read we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, right? How? And why did God care to rescue us by sending Christ to die for us, even though we were still sinning? We’ve learned through studying what Jeremiah was going through with the Judeans that God had promised a Righteous King—who we know to be Christ—to rescue them. And we also talked about how God has rescued his people time and time again. And each rescue was foreshadowing the best rescue to come, rescue by Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection. And because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, because he shed his blood for us, God counts Christ’s righteousness as our own. Look at Romans 3:21-28:

21But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. 27Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

In this passage, we see some of the Old Testament and New Testament coming together, and it’s really neat to be able to see these connections when you read Scripture. Back in the Old Testament, God’s people were to keep God’s Law to show God their commitment to following and loving him. We’re reminded of this if we look back at the Israelites’ journey with Moses in Deuteronomy 6:20-25. Here, Moses is inviting the Israelites to commit wholeheartedly to God’s commands. God made a covenant with them: He was their Lord, and they were his people. If the Israelites accepted their part of the covenant, God’s blessings would flow to them and to other nations. Listen to Moses talking to the Israelites:

20“In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the Lord our God has commanded us to obey?’ 21“Then you must tell them, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand. 22The Lord did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. 23He brought us out of Egypt so he could give us this land he had sworn to give our ancestors. 24And the Lord our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. 25For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the Lord our God has given us.’'

You can see how Moses invoked the memory of God rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. And Moses reminded them that if God’s commandments were kept, God would continue to preserve them, and they would be counted as righteous. Following Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection, all of God’s Law was fulfilled. The passage in Romans 3 tells us that when we place our faith in Jesus, God makes us righteous, as Christ’s righteousness is counted for us. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, and it’s why that even though we are sinners, we can still be rescued. 2 Corinthians 5:21 also drives this home for us, as we see that God planned to offer Christ as the penalty for our sin and impute Christ’s righteousness to us:

21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Repentance Leads to Righteousness

Now that we’ve learned about this name of God, Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Lord Is Our Righteousness, what should it stir up in us? Because The Lord Is Our Righteousness, we should repent and place our faith in Jesus Christ. Even if we would consider ourselves good, God reveals to us that we’re sinners; we cannot uphold his standard of holiness. But our hope isn’t lost. The people of Israel were unable to uphold God’s commandments, and they had leaders that led them away from worshiping and serving God. What happened to those nations? God’s prophets like Jeremiah tried to warn them – they sent messages to the Israelites to repent, to turn from their wickedness and back to God. Would the Israelites put aside their idolatry and turn back to God? Or continue in their ways and head to exile and destruction? In our passage today, we saw that the Judeans were overthrown by the Babylonians and subjected to their rule. Again, hope isn’t lost, because God promised them an even greater rescue to come in the future, at the hands of The Lord Is Our Righteousness. 

For us, Christ, our hope, has already come to fulfill God’s Law and to offer us a path back to God the Father. We have to confront the reality of our state: we’re broken and sinful. God’s wrath against our sin is justified; he’s a perfect and holy God. Our sin not only has consequences in this life, but eternally as well – eternal separation from God. The exile the Judeans suffered was a glimpse of the suffering we face if we don’t repent and place our faith in Christ. To receive the blessing of eternal life with God, we need to believe Christ died and accepted the punishment for our sins. And you may say, “That’s great, Justin, but then what?” On this side of heaven, we still live in the tension of our sin while trying to live for a holy and righteous God. So, we continue striving to fulfill God’s Word and how he wants us to live, and the beauty of God’s grace is we won’t always get it right, but we can count on the strength of the Holy Spirit—Jesus living in us—to continue to act more and more like Jesus every day. Christ’s work on the cross for us should encourage us to want to live like he wants us to live, to obey his commands. Simply put: this means loving God and loving other people. Well how do we do that? Show up to worship in church consistently. Worshiping the Lord in song and listening to God’s Word preached together is one way we love God and other people. Another way? Join a Life Group. Listen to the stories of those in our church in Life Groups and how lives are changed by being part of a small community to work out your faith, show love to others, and to be loved. Serve your church family. There are so many ways to serve on a Sunday – parking, security, medical, welcome center, greeting, worship, tech team, café – so many ways to plug in and love God and other people. And let’s not forget the kids in this church! From infant to high school, there are ways we can serve our youth by teaching them how to follow Jesus, what it means to have to faith, and how to read their Bibles! If you have been with us over the last several weeks, you’ve heard about how we Go as a church. We have had several missions trips where we have sent people abroad to share the gospel and equip our ministry partners. We also have a vibrant Local Go Ministry, where our church can serve people in our community. So Go, and love God and other people. 

So those are our church values of Worship, Connect, Serve, and Go, what about outside of our church walls? How do you love others in your daily life? Be generous with your family and friends. How about your coworkers? Do you speak kindly to them? What about speaking kindly about other people – that one may be tougher. Do you step up to help a friend in need or do you shrink back and hope someone else steps in? What do you do when you catch the eyes of someone new or someone who is not your favorite person? Do you engage in conversation or shy away? How do you show hospitality? Do you make it a point to arrange breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner, or dessert with others in your lives? Are you reading your Bible and spending time in prayer with Jesus? If you struggle with your Bible, don’t pressure yourself to go fast – take it slow! Use a reading plan on the Bible app or get a book that helps people to read the Bible. Ask your shepherding elder, an Equip Class leader, or a Life Group leader for help if you are just stuck and need to talk it out. Praying also doesn’t need to feel burdensome – it should be a sweet time with God. Pray Scripture over your life. Write down or type out prayer requests you receive and pray over them in the morning or at night. Make a calendar to pray for someone or something different each day of the week. We’ve talked several times at Gateway about the ACTS prayer model – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. And again, if you feel like your prayer life is stale, come to our prayer teams, a staff member, or your shepherding elder.

I’ve rattled on about a bunch of stuff and you may be feeling overwhelmed at trying to be all that all the time. Take a breath, we don’t attain perfection in all of those areas, but the Holy Spirit will reveal to us those areas we should work on for our sanctification, the process of becoming more like Christ. The Lord is Our Righteousness – he always does what is prudent, just, and right according to his will. As one author puts it, God’s righteousness is his unswerving faithfulness to always preserve and display the glory of his name (John Piper, The Justification of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993), 100.). He demands righteousness of us, but we will fall short of that glorious standard. But, again, our hope is not lost. Thankfully, God acts righteously to forgive our sin through Christ – the gospel revealed by God is also his righteousness on display (Romans 1:17). Let’s pray.


Gracious Father, we call you the Lord Is Our Righteousness. Like the Israelites, we are not righteous. We can never be righteous without you. We thank you Lord you always had a plan to rescue us. You rescued the Israelites over and over again from their idolatry and their oppressors because you loved your people. Since the beginning, you always planned to rescue us by sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross and resurrecting him. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, his righteousness is our righteousness when we believe, and we thank you for that. We don’t deserve this Lord, but because you love us with a love we cannot comprehend, you graciously and mercifully give this to us. Help us to see your righteousness and want to reflect it in our lives. Amen.


Our prayer teams and I will be up front to pray with you if you need prayer. If today’s message in any way sparked a thought that you would like to claim Christ’s righteousness for yourself, let our prayer teams join you in prayer so you may begin to follow Christ. As you go, receive this prayer:

God, you are our Righteousness, and you see your righteousness in us because of Christ. Help us to reflect your character out in the world as we go. God loves you. I love you. You are sent.