Friday, June 13, 2014
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
I love studying the Bible because it never ceases to challenge or amaze me. This week, I finished reading through the book of Jeremiah and was struck by a passage that I must have read a dozen times but, until now, have missed the impact. Jeremiah 33:16 -17 refers to the millennial reign of Christ. Jeremiah 33:16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.'
"For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,
In the English translation, we lose some of the word play Jeremiah employs in this passage. Notice that Israel will be called The LORD is our righteousness. In Hebrew, this would read YHWH Tzedek, or YEHOVA Zedek, or even shortened to Yazedek.
This pronouncement from God, through the prophet Jeremiah, to the king of Israel, is a direct assault on the character of the king. At the beginning of chapter 32, we read that this prophecy is given during the time of King Zedekiah. Notice the Zedek in his name? The king's name literally translates as Righteousness of God. The problem with this king being named the Righteousness of God is that he is anything but righteous. King Zedekiah disobeys God at every turn. In fact, because of his disobedience, Zedekiah is captured by his enemies and has his eyes torn out immediately after seeing his son's killed.
Israel, as a nation, was following the sinful lead of King Zedekiah and disobeyed the warnings of God. Israel, as a nation, at that time, was far from righteous.
Interestingly, there is another well known figure in Bible history who has Zedek as part of his name. We find this person in Genesis, Psalms, and Hebrews. Melchizedek the king of Salem met Abraham and gave him bread and wine.(yes, the elements of communion) Melchizedek's name translates Melchi = King and Zedek = Righteousness, or literally The King of Righteousness. There is strong evidence to suggest that Melchizedek is in fact Jesus Christ. Many Bible scholars believe that the presence of Melchizedek is what is known as a Christophony - or a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
Every Israelite knew of Melchizedek, and the importance of his name. At the time Jeremiah ministered to Israel, King Zedekiah had a very similar name and title, yet he demonstrated the opposite behavior of what that name implied. Jeremiah, in his pronouncement that Israel would one day be ruled eternally by a descendant of David(Jesus), declared that Israel would be referred to as Yazedek during the time of the Messiah. In this declaration, Jeremiah was demonstrating that God was going to set things right, and that no man, not even a king, could defy the will of the Lord.
It is exciting to see that every word in scripture has meaning and is not wasted. It is well worth the effort to read the Bible with a concordance close at hand. The depth of meaning is limitless. It is my desire that we who are washed in the blood of the savior would seek the Righteousness of God every day as we live among those that need the saving grace of Jesus Christ.