Calling Out Jeshurun

The pet names that lovers use often fall into one of three categories: food, flowers, or cute animals.1 They might sound strange or trivial to an eavesdropper, but they are names of endearment—names that only the lovers know and understand. God used a different category—prophetic. Four times in the Bible, God whispered an intimate pet name to His stumbling, faithless people: Yeshurun (Upright one). The fact that this occurred during Israel’s lapses provides a powerful lesson for us. Moses recorded the first mention:

Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation. They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. (Deut. 32:15–16)

All of us are marred and unworthy, so it is easy for us to believe that God cannot love us. The lie takes various forms. At its worst, people are so convinced of their disqualification that they can’t stand the self-inflicted pain of pursuing a God who, in their minds, rejects them anyway. But how did God really view Israel? For all her crime and grime, He still saw her as the “upright one.”

God is not disappointed in the way that human parents are often disappointed when their promising children fail to live up to their hopes and dreams. God continued to choose Israel, knowing that if she had a relationship with Him, nothing could prevent her from reaching the destiny that He had in store for her.2 God has long been in the business of helping people mature so that they can fulfill their destinies. The changes that He brings about are often marked by changed names. Abram’s destiny expanded with the name Abraham; Jacob became Israel. Later, the prophets told of the transformation of entire peoples. People who were once “forsaken” became Hephzibah (My delight is in her).3 “Not My people” became “My people,” sons of the living God—a prophetic preparation for God’s inclusion of the Gentile nations in His family.4

God longs to transform us all into His image. The pet name “Jeshurun” singles out one godly quality. The related name yashar applies to God—the Upright One. He is “a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He” (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 92:15). Being associated with fallen humans does not tarnish God; His character prevails. On the other hand, He make us like Him. He patiently woos us and provides a solution for our sins. God’s love is so great that He sees beyond our failures, rebellions, and feelings of shame. He sees us made upright again through our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross and by the transformation of the Spirit. God sees His saints at the end of time standing around the throne. What a concept—God makes us upright! God views us the way He viewed His restored nation. We are His bride, radiating righteousness and glory like a beautiful royal diadem. “There is none like the God of Jeshurun” (Deut. 33:26–29).

The translators of the Old Testament into Greek translated the name Jeshurun using the Greek word ēgapēmenos (beloved). There we come full circle because God’s name for His people is also used as a name for Jesus, the Beloved.5 God freely gave His grace to us in His Beloved so that we could enjoy a similar relationship with the Father. Think of it! No matter how far we have fallen, God loves us so much that He considers us upright and He has a pet name for us: “Beloved.”

The goal of Bible Maturity is to promote spiritual growth and faith in God. Please share these short Bible devotions with your friends and family and pray for revival.

  1. Adapted from The Name Quest, by John Avery (Morgan James Publishing, 2014). []
  2. Isa. 44:2. []
  3. Isa. 62:2–5. []
  4. Hos. 1:8–11; 2:1, 23; Rom. 9:24–26; 10:19; 1 Peter 2:10. []
  5. Eph. 1:6. []

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