Learning Righteousness

Isaiah 26:9

My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.

Unfortunately it often takes tragedy to cause people to turn to the Lord.  This can be personal tragedy such as the sickness or death of a loved one or it can be a national tragedy such as the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Hurricane Katrina, or the massive earthquake in Haiti.

We should be careful not to label tragedies as the judgment of God simply because we don’t know the mind of God.  What we do know because we’ve seen it time and time again is that people turn to God in times of struggle.

It is our human nature that we ignore God when everything is going alright.  Only when things begin to fall apart do people turn to God to help them out.  It is during this time that people learn about God’s righteousness.

God can bring justice here on earth.  Some tragedies that strike the earth are a direct punishment from God just like Sodom and Gomorrah.  Even when they are not, people will ask the question of whether God is punishing and some will repent because of their sins.

We certainly should not delight in tragedy but we can take heart in knowing that God will work even tragedies for good.  People will learn about Him and His righteousness as a result of even the saddest of circumstances.

Kingdom of Righteousness

Isaiah 9:7

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9 is a prophecy about Jesus that has yet to be fulfilled.  The disciples and others who followed Jesus expected to see it fulfilled in their lifetime with the overthrow of the Roman government.

During the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will reign from David’s throne for a thousand years and will establish justice and righteousness in the world.  It will be a period of time unlike any other in humanity as Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We still see some of the benefits of Jesus’ kingdom here in the church age, if not a literal reign that is still to come.  Today Jesus reigns in the hearts and minds of Christians.

Jesus spoke extensively to His disciples about why He must leave and that He would not leave them alone but would instead send the Holy Spirit.  One of the duties of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin and guilt in regard to righteousness.

So spiritually we see Jesus’ kingdom in progress with the Holy Spirit working to establish righteousness in the hearts of men.  In the future Jesus will literally reign from David’s throne and will personally establish a kingdom of unending righteousness.

Credited As Righteousness

Genesis 15:6

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:6 is one of the most important verses in all of the Bible and it is quoted several times elsewhere.  In it, the formula for salvation is given.

Abraham was given righteousness.  He did nothing to earn it aside from believing.  Abraham did not live a righteous life.  He didn’t follow a bunch of ceremonial rules.  All he did was believe God.

Belief is the key to salvation.  In the church era, we are saved by our belief in Jesus Christ.  We don’t just believe that Jesus lived but rather that He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and then was raised from the dead by God the Father.  Because of this our sins are forgiven.

Belief is expressed in different ways.  In Romans we are told to “confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.”  In the Old Testament belief was expressed by participating in the sacrificial system.  There was no magic involved in the sacrifice that caused forgiveness of sins.  Instead it was belief that God would forgive.  Forgiveness was ultimately granted when Jesus died on the cross.

We can’t be righteous on our own.  It takes belief in what the Lord is doing and it takes God to grant that righteousness to us.