Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
The Hebrew word translated righteousness here is only used twice in the Hebrew Bible, both times by Jeremiah (see also 23:6). It refers to the Messianic King to come and is described thusly, righteousness as vindicated, justification in controversy with enemies and troubles, deliverance, victory, prosperity*. The interesting thing about this scripture is that it can easily be transformed from righteousness for all people to self-righteousness for some.
The implication of Kingdom language is at least that the Messiah is coming to bring righteousness to more than just me or even the people who think and act and look like me. Jesus came to this world to demonstrate in real time how the love of God works. It is like the love between parents and a newborn; like the love between fellow workers for a cause, we call them disciples; and like the love of one willing to risk and sacrifice his or her own life for others. These truths have been placed in human hands. Alone each of these examples can play out daily absent God’s love. Children are abused and neglected, churches war within themselves and with each other over who is more righteous, and suicide bombers waste their lives proving nothing.
The irony of God is played out fully in sending a helpless infant to show the way to the Lord’s righteousness. We too are infants in love as compared to the love of God and need the nurture of God’s abiding presence to abet our recognizing what is righteousness and living it.
Prayer: Love that will not let me go infuse me with the insights I need to fulfill your righteousness in every part of my being and life. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.