Continued from Chapter 23
The prophet declares: Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, that I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is his name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Christians argue that only God could properly bear the name Y-H-V-H tsidkeinu — “The Lord is our righteousness.” However, names are often given to human beings, and even to inanimate objects, with the intention of expressing honor to God (e.g., Exodus 17:15, Jeremiah 3:17). It is not at all strange to find biblical names which incorporate the divine name within them. In Jeremiah 23:5-6, the name is there to tell us why the Messiah’s rule will be just and equal for all, the source of the Messiah’s righteousness is God. “The Lord is our righteousness” indicates that God will direct His Messiah’s every step. The inclusion of God’s name signifies the total submission of the Messiah’s every action to the will of God. The Lord is our Righteousness is not an everyday name, but a descriptive title disclosing the level of honest judgment and compassion the Messiah will dispense as God’s wholehearted representative. That this is not an ordinary given name is seen in that when a biblical personality has a name which contains the word Y-H-V-H, the full name of God is never included in the person’s name. Most often the name takes the shortened form y-a-h (e.g., Isaiah, “God is Salvation”; Zechariah, “God Remembers”), or some other shortened form of the name, such as, y-h (e.g., Joshua, “Help of God”; Jehoshaphat, “God has Judged”).
Nowhere are all four letters, Y-H-V-H found together in that form in a name given to a human being for everyday use. The bearer of the title The Lord is our Righteousness is imbued with the renown and reputation of God but he is not God or part of God. He will in a very real and concrete way emulate the full meaning of the righteousness of God expressed in this name. We find that the name chosen in the Bible for a child is often descriptive of the parents’ wishes or expectations for the personality that is to mature. This is also evident in the renaming of adults in the Bible, e.g., Jacob becoming Israel (Genesis 35:10). The name (or title) “the Lord is our righteousness” is one given to the Messiah when he is already a mature adult, not one given to him at birth. The Messiah will be a visible testimony of God’s activity as were the prophets, and like them he is not part of the Godhead. The name explains the very character and essence of the one bearing the name as being totally in sync with God’s righteousness. By no means is there the slightest hint that the Messiah’s being is of divine origin.