Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a Righteous Branch, and He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land.
I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WOULD RULE IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE. The question of the singular or plural interpretation of the word "scion" need not trouble us. To the prophet it was enough to declare that the offspring of David would yet reign in righteousness. All lesser fulfillments of this prophecy are thrown into insignificance by the great Son of David, who so grandly fulfilled the essential conditions of the prediction.
1. Righteousness would yet become the law of human life.
2. This would be achieved through a personal influence. The King of men will wield a spiritual scepter, but his influence will be the more real. Righteousness will be manifested as a life and vindicated in sacrificial death.
3. The house of David would be restored in him as its offspring.
II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO HIS PEOPLE. "The Lord our Righteousness," be it the title of Prince or people, is sufficiently significant to explain its own essential meaning. There would be a transfer of the righteous character of the Ruler to the ruled; their spirit and aims would be identical with his; and he would embody their ideal life and present it to God. Through him the Divine righteousness would be the possession of the least saint. This evidently could only be perfectly accomplished in Christ. Nothing less than a unity of spirit and life with Jesus Christ, through faith, could achieve such a result.
III. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD THUS EMBODIED AND COMMUNICATED WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE.
1. The power of this righteousness.
2. Its desirability.
3. Its attainableness. The ideal future of Israel and the Church. - M.
The Lord our Righteousness.Romans 10:3). Why have the Gentiles attained it? Because by the grace of God they have been made willing to receive Jesus as their righteousness." Now look at the Jews going about to establish their own righteousness. They wish to be righteous before God. They wish to be such men as God approves — to be counted righteous and just so that He may be pleased. Therefore their idea of righteousness before God entirely depends upon their idea of God and of God's requirements. God has not left them in ignorance about this. If men who have not the revelation of God form a conception of God according to their own ideas it will be exactly in proportion to their moral condition; therefore the heathen nations made unto themselves gods like unto themselves, as ambitious, as impatient, as self-indulgent, as impure, as changeable as they were themselves. Israel knew the Lord. "I am Jehovah; I am God, and not man, spirit and not flesh; I am holy, be ye also holy." And not simply had God revealed Himself unto them, but He had given unto them also the law as a mirror in which they should see what His idea of men was. Israel had the law of God, and in the law of God they had the character of the righteous One described. And now Israel went about to establish a righteousness of their own. In this process those of them who were sincere in themselves and those of them who really sought not merely to be righteous, but to be righteous before God in order that they might have communion with God, very soon came into the knowledge of their sin, and into the most painful consciousness of their defilement, and, therefore, wishing to he righteous before God, they soon began to cry unto God out of the depth, and to know that innumerable sins had taken hold upon them, and that woe is unto them because they are undone and of unclean lips, and unto such through the knowledge of the law there came death under the law, a longing after pardon, and after the power of God's Spirit operating on their hearts. But those were always the exceptions, the small minority, the "remnant according to the election of grace." The majority of the nation lowered their standard of God, and lowered their standard of the law, and so far did this deteriorating process go on that they not merely came into the idea that they were able to fulfil the law, but they came even to the idea that they were able to do more than the law commanded; that they were able, by extra exertions and by observing precepts which God never has enjoined, to have a treasury of merits, works of supererogation. Curious inconsistency — as long as men go about establishing their own righteousness they are proud before God. But then you would think that if a man is proud, and if he has got the kind of self-consciousness so that he can stand, as it were, before God, that then he would be sure of his salvation. One of their most celebrated prophets, whom they called the "law of the world," was on his death-bed, and one of his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, what sayest thou now?" The Rabbi said, "Heaven and hell are before me, and I know not whither I am going. If I were to be summoned into the presence of an earthly king I might well be afraid, and yet his displeasure would only last a few years, and his punishment, however severe it may be, must come to an end; but I am now going into the presence of the Lord God Most High, whose wrath is everlasting, and His punishment is infinite, and I know not whether I shall be acquitted." Going about establishing a righteousness of their own, lowering the idea of God, lowering the standard of the law, proud and unbroken in spirit, and yet without any peace or assurance of the favour of God. Such a one, also, was the apostle Paul before he was converted; he went about establishing his own righteousness, and afterwards he said that he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, according to the law blameless, but now he wishes not to have his own righteousness, which is by the law. There is another righteousness of which both the law and the prophets have continually testified; which is apart from the law, which man does not work out, which is as much given to man as bread is given to a hungry person, and as water is given to a thirsty person. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." What is the sad condition of the Jews? They do not see two things: they do not know that Jesus is Jehovah, and they do not know that this is our only righteousness. "Jesus our Righteousness." And what is the lamentable condition of Christians who do not know the Lord? Simply the same thing, for if they knew Jehovah-Tsidkenu then they would have the knowledge of salvation, they would put no confidence in the works of the law, they would simply rejoice in Christ Jesus. Then this Jesus is Jehovah When He was an infant He had angels already calling Him Lord, and it was quite right that the wise men of the East worshipped Him. He is Jehovah, but He is "God manifest in the flesh" There is in all human beings, however far they may be from God, this peculiarity: that without union with God they cannot have life. When we think of this union with God, that God should be all in all, that we should be one with God, unless we go by the Word of God we may fall into great depths of error, and into that which is very ungodly. And here is a very peculiar thing, that you find among all the Eastern nations a striving after this being absorbed in God. You find it in India, you find it in China — almost wherever you go; you find it among the Arabs and the Persians. Mystics in all nations, what do they want? They have a feeling that there is in God the only true existence, the only life and blessedness; that everything else apart from God is transitory, is imperfect, is unsatisfactory; they wish to be one with Him; they wish to be absorbed in Him. But the great error which they commit, the great evil into which they are landed is this, that they do not see that sin is sin, that it is wrong, that it is evil. They imagine that sin is necessary, something through which we have to pass, something for which we are not accountable; and thus they deafen the voice of conscience, and declare evil not to be evil, and that there can be no real difference between good and evil. But round it is the truth which God has taught us, that we are to be one with God; we are to be in such a close union with Jehovah that it may be said, "We live, yet not we, but Jehovah lives in us." But how union with God? Because we believe in Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and in this faith in Jesus submitting to the righteousness of God there are three elements. "No boasting." You can judge any religion, simply by that one point — is all the glory given to God and no glory to man? Secondly, there is no uncertainty, for we have a perfect and Divine righteousness. Thirdly, there is no compromise with sin, because, if we believe that Jesus died for us, we believe that God condemned sin in the flesh. We must depart from all unrighteousness, nay, we are "crucified unto the world," and the world unto us.
(A. Saphir, D. D.)
1. It teaches us that Christ is to us the realisation of righteousness; it is no longer an unattainable conception or an abstract idea which we find it hard to grasp or to fulfil, but in Him it becomes a concrete fact on which we can lay hold, and a thing which we can appropriate and possess. He becomes first "righteousness," and then "our righteousness"; first, the visible, incarnate and reeled exhibition of righteousness, and then something of which we can claim possession, and in which we can participate.
2. If this is the obverse presentation or positive statement of the truth, it has also its reverse or negative side. If the name whereby Christ is called is "The Lord is our Righteousness," that fact is destructive to all other hopes, prospects, or sources of righteousness; it gives the lie to them, and asserts their vanity, for we can have no righteousness but what we find in the Lord. Behold in Him your righteousness; look away from and out of yourselves to Him and be righteous. The apprehension of that blessed fact will be the harbinger of peace and joy and fruition of righteousness in you. Whereas before there was nothing but continual delusive hope and abortive effort, together with painful disappointment and self-reproach, now there is the fulness and the fatness of a satisfied soul, the soundness and strength of a heart that is at peace with God, the quietness and assurance, the blessedness and calm confidence of a mind that is at rest in Christ. To know that "the Lord is our Righteousness," is to have and to know that which can alone enable us to contemplate the past with equanimity or serenity; it is to have and to know that which is alone the antidote for care and anguish and remorse, that which can alone take the sting out of sin and rob even the broken law of its just terror. But we have to face the future as well as to look back upon the past, and in that future there sits the shadow, fear of man, and we know not what besides may lurk there. It may be loss, bereavement, sickness, pain, disgrace, infamy; but if the Lord is our righteousness, and if He who is our righteousness is the Lord, the very and eternal God Himself, then, come what may, we must be safe with Him
(Prof. Stanley Leathes.)
I. First, then, HE IS SO. Jesus Christ is the Lord our Righteousness. There are but three words, "Jehovah" — for so it is in the original — "our Righteousness." He is Jehovah, or, mark you, the whole of God's Word is false, and there is no ground whatever for a sinner's hope. He who walked in pain over the flinty acres of Palestine, was at the same time possessor of heaven and earth He who had not where to lay His head, and was despised and rejected of men, was at the same instant God over all, blessed for evermore. He who did hang upon the tree had the creation hanging upon Him. He who died on the Cross was the ever living, the everlasting One. As a man He died, as God He lives. Bow before Him, for He made you, and should not the creatures acknowledge their Creator? Providence attests His Godhead. He upholdeth all things by the word of His power. Creatures that are animate have their breath from His nostrils; inanimate creatures that are strong and mighty stand only by His strength. Who less than God could have carried your sins and mine and cast them all away? How can He be less than God, when He says, "Lo I am with you always unto the end of the world"? How could He be omnipresent if He were not God? How could He hear our prayers, the prayers of millions, scattered through the leagues of earth, and attend to them all, and give acceptance to all, if He were not infinite in understanding and infinite in merit? How were this if He were less than God? But the text speaks about righteousness too — "Jehovah our Righteousness." And He is so. Christ in His life was so righteous, that we may say of the life, taken as a whole, that it is righteousness itself. Christ is the law incarnate. He lived out the law of God to the very full, and while you see God's precepts written in fire on Sinai's brow, you see them written in flesh in the person of Christ. No one that I know of has dared to charge Christ with unrighteousness to man, or with a want of devotedness to God. See then, it is so. The pith, however, of the title, lies in the little word "our," — "Jehovah our Righteousness." This is the grappling iron with which we get a hold on Him — this is the anchor which dives into the bottom of this great deep of His immaculate righteousness. This is the sacred rivet by which our souls are joined to Him. This is the blessed hand with which our soul toucheth Him, and He becometh to us all in all, "Jehovah our Righteousness." You will now observe that there is a most precious doctrine unfolded in this title of our Lord and Saviour. As the merit of His blood takes away our sin, so the merit of His obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. Imputation, so far from being an exceptional case with regard to the righteousness of Christ, lies at the very bottom of the entire teaching of Scripture. The root of the fall is found in the federal relationship of Adam to his seed; thus we fell by imputation. Is it any wonder that we should rise by imputation? Deny this doctrine, and I ask you — How are men pardoned at all? Are they not pardoned because satisfaction has been offered for sin by Christ? Very well, then, but that satisfaction must be imputed to them, or else how is God just in giving to them the results of the death of another, unless that death of the other be first of all imputed to them? I must give up justification by faith if I give up imputed righteousness. True justification by faith is the surface soil, but then imputed righteousness is the granite rock which lies underneath it; and if you dig down through the great truth of a sinner's being justified by faith in Christ, you must, as I believe, inevitably come to the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ as the basis and foundation on which that simple doctrine rests. "The Lord our Righteousness." The Lawgiver has Himself obeyed the law. Do you not think that His obedience will be sufficient? Jehovah has Himself become man that so He may do man's work: think you that He has done it imperfectly? You have a better righteousness than Adam had. He had a human righteousness; your garments are Divine. He had a robe complete, it is true, but the earth had woven it. You have a garment as complete, but heaven has made it for you to wear. You will remember that in Scripture, Christ's righteousness is compared to fair white linen; then I am, if I wear it, without spot. It is compared to wrought gold; then I am, if I wear it, dignified and beautiful, and worthy to sit at the wedding feast of the King of kings. It is compared, in the parable of the prodigal son, to the best robe; then I wear a better robe than angels have, for they have not the best; but I, poor prodigal, once clothed in rags, companion to the nobility of the stye, — I, fresh from the husks that swine do eat, am nevertheless clothed in the best robe, and am so accepted in the Beloved. Moreover, it is also everlasting righteousness. Oh! this is, perhaps, the fairest point of it — that the robe shall never be worn out; no thread of it shall ever give way.
II. Having thus expounded and vindicated this title of our Saviour, I would now APPEAL TO YOUR FAITH. Let us call Him so. "This is the name whereby He shall be 'called,' the Lord our Righteousness." Let us call Him by this great name, which the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath named. Let us call Him — poor sinners! — even we, who are to-day smitten down with grief on account, of sin. "I have no good thing of my own," sayest thou? Here is every good thing in Him. "I have broken the law," sayest thou? There is His blood for thee. Believe in Him; He will wash thee. "But then I have not kept the law." There is His keeping of the law for thee. Take it, sinner, take it. Believe on Him. "Oh, but I dare not," saith one. Do Him the honour to dare it. "Oh, but it seems impossible." Honour Him by believing the impossibility then. "Oh, but how can He save such a wretch as I am?" Soul! Christ is glorified in saving wretches. Only do thou trust Him, and say, "He shall be my righteousness to-day." "But suppose I should do it and be presumptuous?" It is impossible. He bids you; He commands you. Let that be your warrant. "This is the commandment, that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom He hath sent." And some of us can say it yet better than that; for we can say it not merely by faith, but by fruition. We have had the privilege of reconciliation with God; and He could not be reconciled to one that had not a perfect righteousness; we have had access with boldness to God Himself, and He would never have suffered us to have access if we had not worn our brother's garments. We have had adoption into the family, and the Spirit of adoption, and God could not have adopted into His family any but righteous ones. How should the righteous Father be God of an unrighteous family?
III. I appeal to your GRATITUDE. Let us admire that wonderful and reigning grace which has led you and me to call Him, "The Lord our Righteousness."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
II. AS THEIR LAWGIVER — imposing on them a law of evangelical. holiness and perfection. The destiny of man which the scheme of redemption is designed to further and to secure, is to be eternally happy in the presence of God. For this presence, holiness is an indispensable qualification. In the justification of those who believe, therefore, Christ acts not only as Mediator, procuring their pardon, but also as Lawgiver, delineating the nature and extent, and enforcing the obligations of the Divine law. In this character, we are to acknowledge, receive, and obey Him, and He thus becomes "the Lord our Righteousness."
III. AS OUR ALMIGHTY SANCTIFIER — who impresses on our hearts the obligations of the Divine law, and enables us to obey it. Thus is complete provision made for our release from the bondage of sin, and our being reinstated in all the graces and virtues of the Divine image. Let us then learn —
1. To ascribe our salvation to the free and unmerited grace of God.
2. But while we humbly acknowledge and adore the free grace of God in our salvation, let us remember that there are qualifications on our part.
(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)I. WHAT IS MEANT BY HIS BEING OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS?
1. That it is in Him alone that God the Father is well pleased (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5). Not only with whom, but in whom, I am well pleased, atoned, pacified, satisfied. He is God's all in all, and why then should He not be ours?
2. That it is by and through Him alone that we are justified; that is, acquitted from guilt, and accepted into favour, which are the ingredients of justification.
3. It is through His merit and mediation alone that our performances are made acceptable (1 Peter 2:5),
4. It is by Him alone that we have right and title to the heavenly inheritance.
II. CALL JESUS CHRIST BY THIS SWEET NAME, the Lord our Righteousness; each one with application to himself — -as David. And would you think an Old Testament saint, that lived under that dark dispensation, should have such clearness in this matter? A shame to us that are not clear in it, that live under Gospel light (Psalm 4:1).
1. The misery they are in who never yet called Jesus Christ by this name, and the blessed and happy condition they are in that have done so.(1) Till we have called Jesus Christ the Lord our Righteousness, that is, heartily owned Him as such, our condition is a shameful, naked condition, and that is a wretched, miserable condition (Revelation 3:17), because, till clothed with Christ's righteousness, our shame appears in the sight of God.(2) Till we have called Jesus Christ the Lord our Righteousness, ours is a dismal, dark condition. When we call the Lord our Righteousness, then He rises upon our souls as a Sun of Righteousness, and that which follows is the light of comfort, and peace, and joy; such joy as none knows but they that feel it. It is hidden manna (Psalm 85:10).(3) Till we have called Jesus Christ the Lord our Righteousness, we are in a perilous, perishing condition. Christ's righteousness is to us as Noah's ark.
2. The difficulty, nay, the impossibility, of being pardoned and justified, accepted and saved, in any other way, and the facility and easiness of obtaining it in this way.(1) It is impossible we should be accepted of God without a righteousness, one or other, because He is a righteousness God; that is, He is of pure eyes, and, therefore, cannot endure to look upon iniquity (Psalm 5:4; Psalm 11:7).(2) It is impossible that either our own righteousness, or the righteousness of any of our fellow-creatures, one or other, in heaven or earth, should bear us out and bring us off before God. On the other hand, how easy is it to obtain peace, and pardon, and salvation, by the merit and righteousness of the Lord Jesus, by calling Him by this name. Easy, did I say? mistake me not. I mean easy to grace, easy where God is pleased to give a willing mind, as knowledge is easy to him that understandeth (Proverbs 14:6; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 5:3). Easy; that is, it is a ready way to justification and salvation, whereas seeking it by our own righteousness is a round-about way. We can never while we live know in any other way that one sin is pardoned, because perseverance to the end is required. Oh, then, be persuaded; and you that have called Him by this name, call Him so still.There are four special times and seasons when this should be done.
1. When we have done amiss, and are under guilt, and wrath threatens. And when is it not that it is so?
2. When we have well done, after some good work, and pride of heart rises, and we begin to expect from God as if we were something. No, Jesus Christ is the Lord my Righteousness. I am an unprofitable servant when I have done all
3. When we ask anything of God (John 14:23).
4. When we come to look death and judgment in the face, which will be shortly; when sick and dying. Oh, then, for Christ, and His righteousness — it will be the cordial of cordials.
(Philip Henry.)I. When the people of Christ address Him by this name, it implies A CONTRITE ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT THEY HAVE NO RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THEIR OWN, — that they are destitute of all personal righteousness in which to appear before a holy God.
II. When the people of Christ give this name to Him, they declare THEIR SOLEMN PERSUASION THAT THEY REQUIRE A RIGHTEOUSNESS, though they have none of their own, in which to appear before the Holy One of Israel; they not only confess their entire destitution, but acknowledge their indispensable need, of a true and perfect righteousness.
III. When the people of Christ address Him by this name, THEY EXPRESS AND PROFESS THEIR FAITH, THAT MESSIAH BEING IN ONE PERSON GOD AND MAN, HAS BROUGHT IN A RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THEIR BEHALF, which is by God accepted for them, and imputed unto them, for their justification.
IV. When the people of Christ call Him by this name, they are seen IN THE ACT OF EMBRACING, APPROPRIATING, AND REJOICING IN HIM, as the Lord their Righteousness. "The Lord our Righteousness." It is the language of joy and triumph, as well as of reliance and faith. It is not the spirit only of the drowning man laying hold of the plank, but of the safe and happy, rich and joyful man, realising his safety, and rejoicing in his treasures. "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." Conclusion —
1. See here how wondrous a provision the Gospel has made for at once humbling the sinner and exalting him, — laying him low in his own eyes, and yet gloriously ennobling him.
2. See what a ground of security, of peace, and of everlasting blessedness, the believer in Christ enjoys.
3. Use the subject in the way of self-inquiry, and of direction, according to the result of it.
(C. J. Brown, D. D.)I. A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
II. A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS IDENTIFIED WITH CHRIST HIMSELF.
1. Christ — God's gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).
2. Christ for us, in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:24).
3. He is made unto us righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).
III. A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS PUT TO OUR ACCOUNT.
4. Christ for us, our righteousness, to be distinguished but not separated from Christ in us, our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).
(E. H. Hopkins.)
I. Its AUTHOR. We see from the connection in which our text is found, that the person here called "Jehovah our Righteousness," is the same as "the righteous Branch, the prosperous King," promised to be raised up unto David. This proves that the Jehovah of our text is Jehovah-Jesus. Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1), in speaking of Him, says, "There shall come forth a rod," &c. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 34:29) calls Him "the Plant of renown" Zechariah (Zechariah 6:12, 13), speaking of Him, says, "Behold the man whose name is the Branch," &c. When the angel Gabriel foretold His birth, he applied this very prophecy to Him, saying, "The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever." And then, to complete the testimony of Scripture on this point, and prove to a demonstration that the Jehovah of our text is Jesus, it is only necessary to turn to a single passage in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 1:13).
II. Its FOUNDATION. It is spoken of in the New Testament as "the righteousness of Christ." And the foundation on which it rests — that of which it is made up — is the active and passive obedience of our Lord and Saviour. It embraces all that He did, to honour God's law, when He obeyed its every precept to the uttermost, in thought and feeling, in purpose, word, and action; and all that He suffered, when the tremendous penalties of God's broken law were visited upon Him. The righteousness of Christ means simply the BENEFIT of all that He did and suffered. This benefit, or righteousness, belongs to His people. It is made over to them. It is reckoned as theirs.
III. Its NATURE. No miser ever felt half the joy in counting over his hoarded gold, and no monarch ever experienced half the rapture in gazing admiringly on the magnificence of the crown jewelry he inherits, than the intelligent- Christian experiences in dwelling on the nature of that all-perfect righteousness that Jesus, his glorious Saviour, has wrought out for him.
1. It is a gracious righteousness. It was of God's good pleasure alone, that ever a plan for working out such a righteousness was devised. It is grace alone which makes men feel their need of this righteousness, inclines them to seek it, and makes them willing to cast sin and self, and everything else away, and to rest on this righteousness, on this only, on this now, and on this for ever, as the ground of their acceptance with God.
2. It is a perfect righteousness. God's perfect law was the standard by which this righteousness was to be measured; and it came fully up to that standard. It was the scrutiny of God's holy and penetrating eye to which this righteousness was subjected. He weighed it in the balances of the heavenly sanctuary, and declared Himself well pleased with it. It is because of His connection with this righteousness that God the Father loves His Son with a love that is unspeakable. This was what the Psalmist meant (Psalm 45:7). And it is because Christ's people share in this righteousness that God cherishes towards them the same affection that He entertains towards His only-begotten Son. Nothing less than this will meet our wants. "A robe I must have," says an old writer, "of a whole piece; broad as the law, spotless as the light, and richer than ever an angel wore; and such a robe I have in the righteousness of Christ. It is a perfect righteousness."
3. It is an uniform righteousness. Where the sun shines at noonday, I have the benefit of his shining, as fully as though there were none around me to share his beams, and he shone for me alone. Yet each of my neighbours has, or may have, the same benefit of his beams that I have. And so it is with the righteousness of Christ. The dying thief who turned in penitence and faith, and was accepted in the last hour, had just the same title to enter heaven that the apostle Paul had, or Peter, or John, or Isaiah, or Elijah, or David, or Moses, or Abraham, or Enoch.
4. It is an unchanging righteousness. If the whole world, with its contents, were given at once to you or me, in fee-simple ownership, of course it would be impossible to add to our worldly possessions. There might be much that was new for us to discover; but there could be nothing new for us to own. We might proceed to lay bare the rich mines in our inheritance, and to search out their hid treasures. But this would only be adding to the knowledge of our possessions; it would not be enlarging them. And so when Christ gives Himself and His righteousness to His people, He gives them a world of spiritual treasures, which it will take all eternity for them fully to explore and find out. But all this is given to them from the start. The soul once justified is justified fully. The righteousness which secures justification will remain without changing what it was at first.
5. It is a glorious righteousness. We see this in the peculiar position which the ransomed people of Christ will occupy among the creatures of God, in possessing this righteousness. They will stand on higher ground in the scale of being than even angels and archangels can ever reach. We have no reason to suppose that there is another tribe or race of creatures in all the boundless universe who will rise to a point of elevation like this. This is what is meant when we are told that Christ's ransomed ones are to be "a peculiar treasure unto Him." They are to be to "the praise of the glory of His grace," as none other of His creatures shall be. Their peculiar, distinguishing privilege will be that Jehovah-Jesus is their righteousness.
IV. Its IMPORTANCE.
1. It is not possible that we can have the comfort of being Christians, unless we have a clear knowledge of this great truth. Suppose that, in a week from to-morrow, you have a note of a large amount to take up, and you have nothing with which to meet it. Of course, under such circumstances, you must feel very uncomfortable. And suppose that, under these circumstances, a friend should deposit, in your name, at the bank a sum of money more than sufficient to meet all your indebtedness. The fact that the money was there would put you in a position of safety. But unless you have a clear knowledge and a full assurance of this fact, you cannot be in a position of comfort in reference to it. Now, in our natural condition as sinners, we are all overwhelmingly in debt to God. We are liable at any moment to be called to a settlement, and we have nothing to say. But when we are led to repent of our sins, and believe in Jesus as our Saviour, His infinite and all-perfect righteousness is entered in the bank of heaven in our name, and to our account. It is reckoned as belonging unto us. If we are able to understand this truth, and grasp it, in the exercise of a firm faith, we shall have access to the most full and flowing fountain of comfort which the Gospel affords.
2. Our confidence for the future must depend entirely on our knowledge of this doctrine, and our belief in it. It is only by sharing in the righteousness of Christ that any child of Adam ever has entered heaven, or ever will. And the robes which the ransomed wear who entered that blessed abode are robes that have been washed, and made white in the blood of the Lamb.
V. Its POSSESSION. It is faith in Christ, alone, which can make this righteousness ours. Show me one, therefore, who is exercising simple faith in Christ as his Saviour, and I will show you one who has a gracious, covenant, inalienable right to say, "This little" word 'our' in the text takes me in. I belong to the company here spoken of. Jehovah-Jesus is my Righteousness."
(R. Newton, D. D.)i.e., our clearer from guilt: and the Sanctifier of our race, — i.e., the giver of the Holy Spirit from the Father, by whom we become holy and changed into the image of God. Now, let us contemplate the effect on those who believe. Entering into Christ's finished work, they know Him as "Jehovah their Righteousness." In themselves, they are as others. They carry about with them the remnants of a body of sin, and are in conflict with it as long as they are here below. But sin has no dominion over them, nor shall it condemn them in that day. They are accepted in the Beloved. Christ's righteousness is their righteousness, because they are living members of Him the righteous Head, and are regarded by the Father as in Him with whom He is well pleased. Do you call Christ, Jehovah your Righteousness? What, then, is your estimate of your own duties, and your performance of them?
(Dean Alford.)I. The Lord is "our Righteousness," because He is OUR PARDON. "We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Our amendment — our often too partial, superficial amendment — is not our pardon; for how can amendment cancel the past? Neither is our repentance our pardon; it neither is nor can be the meritorious cause for which God pardons. In the words of one of our greatest saints: "Our repentance needs to be repented of, our tears want washing, and the very washing of our tears needs still to be washed over again in the blood of our Redeemer."
II. He is "the Lord our Righteousness" in the sense of OUR ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD. It is solely through His merits that we are first received, and are afterwards continued in the favour of God. Just as His righteousness is the meritorious cause of the remission of those sins which we repent of, so His righteousness is the meritorious cause of the acceptance of our service, notwithstanding its imperfections.
III. In ordaining His Son to be "the Lord our Righteousness," God has also ordained in His wisdom that He should be the SOURCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN US. He, our great Head, our second Adam, is the Lord, our "renewal in righteousness."
1. We partake of an evil nature, because we have naturally transmitted to us Adam's weak and sinful nature, and those who are savingly in Christ have had, and yet have, supernaturally transmitted to them Christ's nature, as the seed in them of spiritual and eternal life.
2. He is "the Lord our Righteousness," inasmuch as He is the Lord our strength to serve God and subdue Satan.
IV. IN WHAT RESPECT CHRIST IS NOT, AND NEVER CAN BE, " OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." He never can be our righteousness, so as to supersede the necessity, in any one particular, of our own personal holiness and righteousness. Righteousness is the order, the harmony, of God's intelligent creation, just as sin is its disorder, its confusion. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness, because He loves order, He loves harmony, He loves to see His creatures truly and permanently happy, which they only can be so long as they understand and fulfil the conditions of the particular place in His creation which He, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, has assigned to them. The love of God is righteousness. It is our inmost heart and affections being disposed towards God, as they should be when we consider who God is, and what He has done for us, and what claims His goodness has on us as spiritual beings redeemed by His Son's blood. Reverence to God is another branch of righteousness. It is our souls knowing and realising their place in the presence of so great and terrible a God. Obedience to rulers is righteousness; it is acting in accordance with the requirements of the place in which God has set us in human society. Obedience to parents, honouring and reverencing our parents, loving our brothers and sisters, is righteousness; it is realising the duties of our condition as members of families and households. Feeling for, assisting, judiciously and generously relieving the poor, is righteousness; it is fulfilling our position in a world left by God full of inequalities of estate and condition; which God has left full of these inequalities, in order that those servants of His to whom He has lent some superfluities, may grow in the grace of Christian charity by lessening the misery they see around them. Bearing distress with patience is another branch of righteousness; it is our hearts not revolting under, but submitting to, the dispensation of a God who always orders all things for the very best.
(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)I. TO WHOM DOES THIS PASSAGE REFER? It is vain to inquire whether the reference here be to the Jews literally, or to Christians; for the thing comes to the very same result.
II. HIS PERSONAL TITLE. "He shall be called the Lord our Righteousness." The word is Jehovah. Hence the amazing importance of the preceding inquiry; for whoever the person, intended may be, here is a name applied to Him "which is above every name."
1. The language is strong; but His perfections allow it. His omniscience allows it. Peter said to Him, "Thou knowest all things"; and He said, "The Churches shell know that I am He who searcheth the reins and the heart." His omnipresence allows it. "Where two or three are gathered together," &c. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." His unchangeableness allows it. He is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."
2. The language is strong; but His operations justify it. "By Him were all things created," &c. "Without Him was not anything made that was made."
3. The language is strong; but it accords with the worship demanded of Him and received by Him.
4. The language is strong, but the occasion requires it. His greatness must he carried into every of His work as a Saviour.
III. HIS RELATIVE CHARACTER, or what He is to us. "The Lord our Righteousness." The former would have filled us with terror; but this softens down the effulgency; this throws a rainbow around His head, and tells us we need not be afraid of a deluge. How is He, then, "our Righteousness"? We answer, generally, He is so in two ways: by His making us righteous by a change in our state, and by a change in our nature; for the latter is as really derived from Him as the former.
IV. THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS. For names are designed to distinguish and to make their owners known. Persons, more than things, are always called by their proper names.
1. This is considered His greatest work and honour. When a man takes a name from any of his actions, you may be assured that he will do it from the most peculiar, the most eminent, the most glorious of them.
2. It means that He is to be approached under this character. This is always to be the great subject of the Christian ministry.
3. That all His people would own Him as such.
(W. Jay.)I. THE LAW HAS SHUT US ALL UP UNDER SIN.
1. This law having been given, and being expressive of God's nature and holiness, He must require that it be perfectly obeyed. He can allow of no deviation from it, no coming short in any one jot or tittle. A lawgiver conniving at the breach of his own laws, though in the smallest particular, would be to make them despicable.
2. Who can declare, that never in thought, word, or deed, he has come short of what he owed to God and his neighbour? Who can say, I am clean, I am pure from sin? Yet the slightest imperfection, though but in thought, exposes us to the curse of God's righteous law.
3. But some perhaps will say, "I have not, it is true, done all I should have done; but I have done my best." The law replies, "Tell me not of your best; have you done all? if not, the curse is upon you." "But I have repented of what has been amiss." "Tell me not of your repentance: you have transgressed; the curse is upon you." "But I will do better." "Tell me not of doing better: you must do all. Could you render full obedience for the-time to come, the past is still against you. That debt is unpaid: you are under condemnation."
II. HOW, THEN, SHALL MAN ESCAPE? He has transgressed, and he must die, unless he can find one to answer the utmost rigour of its demands, to bear the fiercest vengeance of its curse. But no creature can do this. What hope, then, unless God Himself should find a substitute? What hope, unless God Himself should obey the law which He had given, and suffer in our stead? But is this probable? nay, is it possible? Yes. God Himself has done it. Jehovah has become "our Righteousness." God has given His only-begotten Son — In Christ, and in Him only, have we righteousness and strength.
III. APPLY THESE TRUTHS.
1. Has the law wrought in us its convincing humbling work? Have we seen ourselves lost?
2. Have we, under a deep sense of our own undone condition, betaken ourselves to Christ for help? Have we, without reserve, fixed our hope of salvation upon Him?
(E. Blencowe, M.A.)I. AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF AN IMPORTANT TRUTH.
1. The Lord is our Righteousness inasmuch as the purpose and plan of justifying sinners originated with Him.
2. Inasmuch as He Himself has alone procured righteousness for us.
3. Inasmuch as it is through His grace and by his free donation that we receive righteousness.
II. AN UTTERANCE OF PERSONAL BELIEF AND CONFIDENCE. The language of faith, hope, joy, gratitude.
III. A DIRECTORY TO THE SPIRITUAL INQUIRER. Anxious sinners wish to know the way of acceptance with God. The text is a brief but satisfactory answer.
(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)I. EXHIBIT THE DELIGHTFUL CHARACTER UNDER WHICH CHRIST IS HERE PRESENTED.
1. His essential dignity.
2. His mediatorial office.
3. The spiritual relation in which He stands to His people.
II. SPECIFY SOME CONSIDERATIONS WHICH PUT AN EMPHASIS AND VALUE UPON REDEMPTION, AND HEIGHTEN OUR SENSE OF ITS IMPORTANCE.
1. The work of redemption has ennobled our nature and shed a lustre over the annals of our world.
2. It eclipses and throws into the shade the greatest of the Divine works.
3. It enhances the value of temporal blessings following in its train.
4. It forms a permanent bond of union among subjects of grace.
5. Judge of the grandeur of the work by the doom denounced against those who despise and reject it.
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