[Feb 27]--The Lord Our Righteousness

            Today we’re continuing our brief overview of what the prophets say about the coming Messiah. I do need to note a couple of things here before we move forward.
            First, the prophets have a lot to say about his second coming, probably more than about his first arrival. However, those passages tend not to be conducive to a devotional. I could do a study of them, but to do so I’d have to get into my personal eschatology, which is really beyond the purview of what we’re doing here. This is a devotional, not a commentary.
            Second, if you want a much clearer picture of our Savior, don’t forget the Psalms. I did a study of what we find out about Jesus in the Psalms last year, and it was one of the most personally rewarding (for me, at least) studies I’ve ever done. Every major aspect of the Lord Jesus’ life: his incarnation, his ministry, Passion, resurrection, ascension, etc., are all laid out for us in the Psalter. Don’t miss that huge chunk of prophecy.
            Now we come to a really meaningful passage for us, and it predicts an amazing aspect of our Savior’s work on our behalf. The Messiah, a descendant of David (that’s what “branch” means) will come and rescue Israel. The last part of the verse gives us a name (or rather, a title) by which he will be called: “The Lord our righteousness.”
            Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t quote from the NIV as usual. Instead I quoted from the NASB, a more literal version. The latest update of the NIV as of this writing has a different rendition of the Hebrew phrase Yahweh Tsidkenu. They might render it as “The Lord Our Righteous Savior” or something similar. But literally that is what it is: “The Lord our Righteousness” or “The Lord is our Righteousness.” Let me tell you why I prefer the literal translation, and why it’s important.
           Moses told the people of Israel as he gave them the Law that “if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” That’s the essence of the Torah, the basis of the Old Covenant: Your righteousness, your standing before God was based on your performance. If you obeyed, you were blessed. If you disobeyed, you were cursed. Now we also know that in an ultimate sense, God’s people have always had their relationship with God based upon grace through faith; Paul made this clear in Romans chapter four.
            But there’s a reason why we have an “Old Covenant” and a “New Covenant,” or “Old Testament” and a “New Testament” (yes, that’s where we get the words from). Jesus came to institute a new covenant, written in his blood. It's different. The New Covenant is not just an improvement on the Old. It’s based on a completely different foundation. Moses said that under the Law their obedience would be their righteousness. Our righteousness is based on something else.
            1 Cor. 1:30 is the key verse here. Paul tells us that Jesus has become for us our righteousness and our holiness. He is our righteousness. There’s a reason he didn’t just die for our sins in the crib. He lived a perfect life for 33 years—not just sinless, but perfectly righteous and in perfect obedience to the Father. Then when he died, God transferred that perfect righteousness over to my “account” as he placed my sin upon the back of his Son.
           That’s why one of the titles for Messiah here is The Lord our Righteousness. I claim no other righteousness. I have no other righteousness worth claiming.
           The Good News? That righteousness is all I’ll ever need.

Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness. I claim no other. I’d be a fool to claim my own. You are perfect, you are holy, you have pleased the Father on my behalf. Thank you.

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