Week Twenty-Three, Day Three
Righteousness isn't a popular word in our culture. Yet righteousness is essential to our happiness because it involves being in right relationship or right standing with God and conforming to his character, fulfilling our responsibilities toward him and others. But righteousness is impossible for us to achieve, no matter how much we might long for it. It comes only as God's gift to us through faith in his Son. When we pray to the Lord Our Righteousness, we are praying to the One who has intervened on our behalf to restore us to his likeness and therefore to fellowship with himself.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6)
PRAYING THE NAME
So the LORD said to him [Abram],"Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon." Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting,Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. . . .When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. (Genesis 15:9-12, 17)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24)
Reflect On: Genesis 15 and 1 Peter 2:24
Praise God: For his righteousness.
Offer Thanks: That God came seeking you.
Confess: Any tendency to forget what Jesus suffered for your sake.
Ask God: To increase your understanding of what Jesus has done for you.
Imagine sealing an agreement flanked not by lawyers who stand ready to witness your signature on a contract but by pieces of slaughtered animals that form an aisle you are to walk through. By taking part in this ancient ceremony and walking down that aisle, you are essentially saying, "May the same thing happen to me if I ever break my oath." That's precisely how God solemnized his covenant with Abraham. But the funny thing was, Abraham never walked down that aisle. Only God did, in the figure of the smoking firepot in Abraham's dream.
In the years that followed, God kept his part of the covenant while Abraham's descendants broke it on a regular basis. Instead of living in the shelter of their righteous God, they worshiped idols. Ignoring the Law, which was meant to lead them to their greatest happiness, they strayed until they could not find a way back. Still God came seeking them, ever faithful to the covenant he had made. He sent prophets to cry out to them; he afflicted them in an effort to bring them back; and he blessed them whenever they returned. But nothing worked for long. Israel's sin against a holy God called down the ancient curse.
But instead of tearing the oath-breakers apart in accordance with the ancient rite, God himself took the brunt of the struggle against evil, absorbing the punishment in the body of his Son, slaughtered on a cross. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, suffered the punishment we deserve. He was wounded for our transgressions, restoring us forever to the God who loves us.
Thank God today for his love and mercy, which like his justice is a part of his righteousness. Accept by faith the righteousness that comes to you through Jesus Christ, the one we call Yahweh Tsidqenu, The LORD Our Righteousness.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.