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Jeremiah lived among unrighteous people who were led by unrighteous leaders, both civil and religious. He prophesied during the final years before the Babylonian captivity when the nation was falling apart. For this reason, God gave him hope of better days in the future, promising to raise up a righteous king from the house of David.
Jeremiah 23:5, 6 says,
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. 6 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 our righteousness” [Jehovah-Zidkenu].
This was, of course, a messianic prophecy, based on God’s promise to David in 2 Sam. 7:8-17, which we will study momentarily. Jeremiah received a double witness of this promise of hope in Jer. 33:14-22, where again the word mentions Jehovah-Zidkenu.
14 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.”
The passage goes on to say that God’s covenant with David is unbreakable, because it is based on the New Covenant itself. A New Covenant is where God makes a promise and so He is therefore responsible to fulfill it. It is not based on the promises of men, nor can men’s failures nullify the promise of God. The worst that men’s failure can do is to delay the fulfillment of God’s promise.
The covenant with Noah in Genesis 9 gives us the scope of salvation. The covenant with Abraham establishes the “seed” through whom that promise will come. The covenant with David establishes the true Heir to the throne. The two covenants with Moses (Exodus 19 and Deuteronomy 29) define what it means for us to be God’s righteous people and for a righteous God to be our God.
Paul writes in 1 Cor. 1:30,
30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Hence, Jesus Christ is, among other things, Jehovah-Zidkenu, “our righteousness.” The implication is that Christ is our standard of righteousness. His life, His works, and His words set the bar for all that is righteousness and prophesies the kind of life that His Body will also experience when their salvation is complete.
David’s innermost desire was to build God’s house. But God turned the tables on David, saying in 2 Sam. 7:11, “The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.” He adds in 2 Sam. 7:16,
16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.
Psalm 89 expounds upon the Davidic covenant. Psalm 89:3, 4 says,
3 I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, 4 I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations. Selah [i.e., pause and ponder this].
The promise continues in Psalm 89:27-29,
27 I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. 29 So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.
David himself was the first beneficiary of this covenant, but a greater fulfillment was yet to come. David was a type of Christ; Jesus was the antitype. This is implied when Ethan the Ezrahite (who wrote Psalm 89) lamented that the house of David had been virtually destroyed. Psalm 89:38-45 says,
38 But You have cast off and rejected, You have been full of wrath against Your anointed. 39 You have spurned the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned the crown in the dust. 40 You have broken down all his walls; You have brought his strongholds to ruin… 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have shortened the days of his youth; You have covered him with shame.
This occurred when Zedekiah, the last king of Judah (descended from David) lost his throne, and the nation was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Zedekiah was killed along with his sons. Only his two daughters survived (Jer. 41:10; 43:6), and they were later taken by Jeremiah across the sea. One was given in marriage to the royal house in Spain, the other to the royal house in Ireland.
But to Ethan the Ezrahite, it was apparent that the monarchy of David had collapsed. Even so, he remembered the promise of God, asking in Psalm 89:46,
46 How long, O Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?
This remained an open question at the time, but yet he prayed in verse 50, “Remember, O Lord, the reproach of Your servants.” God did indeed remember, for we know that nearly six centuries later, Jesus Christ was born. When His forerunner, John, was born, Zacharias testified that God had remembered His holy covenant (Luke 1:72).
The old throne of David was removed from the earthly Jerusalem, but the promise of God remained in effect. An earthly throne continued far away through Zedekiah’s daughters in order to maintain the promise to David himself, but at the same time a greater throne was being prepared for the Son of David, that is, Jesus Christ.
God is building a righteous house indirectly through David but directly through Jesus Christ. We read in Rom. 8:29 that Christ was “the firstborn among many brethren.” Col. 1:15 calls Him “the firstborn of all creation,” and Col. 1:18 says He is “the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
Hebrews 1:6 says of Christ,
6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
This is quoted from the Septuagint version of Deut, 32:43, which reads,
43 Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him.
The point is that Jehovah-Zidkenu is the One who made this covenant with David and his house. The implication is that the God of Righteousness is building a righteous house, headed by the great Anointed One, Jesus Christ. Having been begotten by the Spirit (Matt. 1:18), He cannot sin, because He was begotten through incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Again, 1 John 3:9 says (literally),
9 No one who is begotten of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God.
The house of David, which God is building, is centered upon Jesus Christ, who was born as the Heir to the throne. The main theme of the New Testament is about the conflict between Jesus and the unrighteous men who opposed His claim to the throne. Out of this conflict arose two groups of Jews, each claiming to be the true representatives of Judah, and each having its own messiah.
Those who believed in Jesus and who considered Him to be the legitimate King of Judah from the house of David are those whose belief is based on the New Covenant. Jesus Christ is the Mediator of this New Covenant (Heb. 9:15), even as David was the recipient of the New Covenant promise of God.
Paul tells us who is of Judah and who is not. Rom. 2:28, 29 says,
28 For he is NOT a Jew [Judean] who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he IS a Jew [Judean] who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise [“Judah” status] is not from men, but from God.
Heart circumcision is the sign of the New Covenant, even as “outward” circumcision in the flesh is a sign of the Old Covenant, Paul says. Both groups claim to be of Judah, which means “praise.” But only those who truly praise God through faith in the Mediator of the New Covenant are truly of Judah that is ruled by the house of David. In fact, no one is chosen unless they are joined to the Chosen One, who is Jesus Christ.
These are also the ones who have been imputed righteous by faith. Their righteousness is not based upon works nor on the will of man. Those who have Abrahamic faith are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). Abrahamic faith is defined in Rom. 4:21, 22. Those who, like Abraham, believe that God is able to fulfill His promise are said to be “righteous.” This is the righteousness that comes by faith.
These are the sons of God as well (Gal. 3:26). More specifically, they are the sons of Jehovah-Zidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness,” for if His righteous and incorruptible seed abides in us, then it can truly be said that this new creation man is righteous.
Those who are still unrighteous before God should learn the promises of God, not only to David but to all who were given New Covenant promises. Those who believe those promises may call upon the name of the Lord—specifically, Jehovah-Zidkenu—who has the power to impute righteousness to those with faith. These join “the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10) as children of Abraham, but they also become part of the house of David.