Restoring Righteousness – Part 3

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The need for prophesy is precisely expressed in Proverbs 29:18. Prophets enable others to envision life more in conformity with God’s own vision of a just society.

Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God].

Proverbs 29:18

During the Old Testament period, God’s revelation to humanity came through the prophets. They proclaimed the righteousness of God and God’s love for His people. The exposed evil directly or caused it to rise to the surface that it might be repented of. Today, everyone wants the prophets to prophesy sweet words of blessings. Yet, in Deuteronomy 28, the Lord speaks of blessing and cursing if His people did not obey the covenant.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Through the prophet, God would call the nation of Israel to repentance and returning to realign and reconcile them to Himself  whenever  they would  rebel against His covenant. God’s love for Israel is ineradicable and deep rooted until this day.  The All-Present One did not give up on the people He loves with an everlasting love (Hosea 14:1; Jer. 4:1).  Yet, the more He called them, the more they went further from Him  (Hosea 11:3-4, 8:14). In spite of God’s passionate love, Israel would stray, they chose to worship idols rather than the true and living God.

For God to reveal His word through the prophet to His people is an act of justice or an act of seeking to do justice. The purpose of prophecy is to maintain the covenant, to establish the right relationship between God and man.

—Abraham Heschel, The Prophet

God demands righteousness and justice.  They are the foundation of His throne, His steadfast love and faithfulness goes before Him (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 89:14).  There must be and increase hunger and thirst for righteousness emanating from God’s people (Matt. 5:6). The Lord tells us “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matt. 6:33).  Jesus also warned that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).  Pretty harsh words. The Pharisees were on a quest for righteousness, yet they ended up in a pursuit of self-righteousness.

The prophets’ preoccupation with justice and righteousness has its roots in a powerful awareness of injustice.

—Abraham Heschel, The Prophet

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 gives us a warning from Israel’s history that we would be wise to expeditiously take heed to today:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.  Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

1 Corinthians 10:1-22

We have a right to do whatever we please because of the freedom Christ paid a price for that was given to us, but that does not mean it is beneficial or constructive if it steers us away from God’s covenant and His righteousness. We should not just be seeking our own good, but the good of others.(1 Cor. 10:23-24).

As the Lord entrusts His Word to me I hope that it will stir in your heart the desire for change so that together we will impact this world for God’s Kingdom!

Shalom,

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