Jeremiah 23:6 (H6664 ) righteousness 77, just 11, justice 10, righteous 8, righteously 3, right 3, righteous cause 1, unrighteousness 1, misc 2
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Our righteousness comes from God. We have no righteousness of, nor on our own. Following is the entire 64th chapter of Isaiah. Originally I was only looking for verse 6, which I have highlighted, but take a moment or wait until you have a few moments and then read this passage.
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, (2) As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! (3) When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. (4) For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. (5) Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved. (6) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (7) And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. (8) But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (9) Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity forever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people. (10) Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. (11) Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. (12) Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?
Only through abiding in Him can we attain any measure of righteousness. It comes not from us, not from any works that we do, but flows down from God. He is the God of our righteousness. . . Further in the book of Revelation is says that you and I, all who are loved by Him and washed and cleansed of our sins by the blood of Jesus are made kings and priests like Jesus unto God. . .
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
If I am a King. . .If I am a Priest. . .I don't know. . .it surely is an honor, but it is also much more. To be a king and a priest is not a mere title. Kings and priests have responsibilities. Kings are the leaders of nations, leaders of political structures. Priests are religious, moral, spiritual men and women who lead service and the ministry of others unto God. These are not only pretty words. There is meaning in these words. Kings and priests are judged with a finer measure than the commoners and altar boys. . .with greater responsibility and recognition comes greater accountability. . .
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (6) And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
We continue in that heritage. Our heritage is of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . .We are now today of the New Contract, the new covenant, the New Testament, but surely the heart of God is revealed in His instructions to His Chosen People. We are instructed:
That which is altogether just (6664, 6664) shalt thou follow, (7291) that (4616) thou mayest live, (2421) and inherit (3423) (853) the land (776) which (834) the LORD (3068) thy God (430) giveth (5414) thee. (21) Thou shalt not (3808) plant (5193) thee a grove (842) of any (3605) trees (6086) near (681) unto the altar (4196) of the LORD (3068) thy God, (430) which (834) thou shalt make (6213) thee.
I thought this first verse was fascinating. I am showing it with the Strong's numbers. Note the beginning. . .the first two words are the Hebrew tsedeq (6664) tsedeq (6664). . . righteous righteousness. . . translated by the KJV as altogether just. . . think about the doubling of the word. . . not just purity, but pure purity are we to follow. . . not just correctness, but correct correctness. . . righteousness multiplied by righteousness. . . righteousness squared. . .We are instructed to be absolutely correct, absolutely without a hint of shadow upon our actions. . .Immediately following that instruction, "Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord. . ."
All through the history sections of the Old Testament kings are judged on how they handled the groves and high places. Here are just a few:
(2 Chronicles 17:6) And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
(2 Chronicles 19:3) Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
(2 Chronicles 24:18) And they left the house of the LORD God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.
(2 Chronicles 31:1) Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and broke the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.
(2 Chronicles 33:3) For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them.
(2 Chronicles 33:19) His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.
(2 Chronicles 34:3) For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.
(2 Chronicles 34:4)And they broke down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he broke in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.
Dozens and dozens of verses outline how one yardstick of measurement of kings is how they deal with the groves and high places of idol worship. . . The one New Testament reference:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I meditate upon and pray this verse often when walking up and down the streets of our city, when we gather together on our monthly prayer walks, praying against the strongholds of darkness and evil. I have always read this verse before, thinking of the high places mentioned here, as in the lofty towers of government, etc., but in the Old Testament, which Paul was certainly familiar with, the high places refer to a particular geographical location, on a hill top for example where idol worship was given up, places where sacrifices to wooden and stone gods was conducted.
Where have the high places gone? Have the groves all been cut down and not grown back? Did they all disappear with the coming of Jesus. Are they uniquely an Old Testament phenomenon?
I am asking questions that I at present have no certain answers to, but I do not imagine that without constant vigilance that the groves would remain away. . . Where are the groves? What are the places of spiritual iniquity? Will we like past kings, be measured in part on how we dealt with idol worship and places of spiritual wickedness in our midst?
2 Kings 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
The people of the day sacrificed their children to Molech. . .We have in our community, known places where our unborn children are sacrificed to the god of hedonism. . .We buy our gas and morning coffee where pornography is sold alongside of the milk and bread. . .I can go on. . .we have mediums and seekers of familiar spirits in our midst. . .We have become accustomed to these things. 50 years ago there would have been outrage where today we accept and blithely ignore these things.
I walk up and down the street praying against the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. . .and yet if I do not express my faith by acting, am I not like the man James talks about:
James 2:14-20 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
I have questions. . . at this point I do not have answers, but I am becoming more and more convicted that my faith must have legs. . . I am surely not advocating any violence at all, but activism need not be violent.
Do we not have the responsibility as kings and priests of addressing those things in our midst, places in our communities that have no business being there? Can we just go about our daily lives, ignoring the groves and high places? Will I not be asked these questions some day?
Please guide me Lord. . .
Please lead me into your will. . .
Sunday, February 10, 2008