What is Righteousness Anyway?
Today we’re going to focus on the righteousness that Isaiah uses to describe the Branch, (our Savior Jesus) and the righteousness our Shepherd guides us to. Keep reading! I know righteousness can be intimidating to understand!
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears, but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his vest and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” (Isaiah 11:1, 3-5)
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)
Righteousness can be one of those “fancy”, Christian scholarly words that is hard to define, much less understand. Hey, that’s how I feel anyway so here’s a definition I found that puts it in simple words for me:
Righteousness “is the perfect holiness of Christ. It is an essential attribute to the character of God; quite literally meaning “One who is right”. Think of it as the polar opposite of sin.” It also means “judge” so a right judge, too.
So, what does righteousness and a rod have to do with each other? Shepherds carried rods not only to protect the gentle and harmless sheep from predators, but it was also used to reprimand unruly sheep that pick on others or eat the wrong plants.
In Isaiah, Jesus’ prophecy is described as one who will judge rightly those who are spiritually hungry and malnourished. God knows who thirsts and hungers for “right-ness” and those who do not. And when “the wicked”, predators come to attack, the Branch, or Jesus will use his rod to slay them. And that goes for us, too. He protects us because He loves us so much.
At Christmastime, Advent candles are often displayed with each candle representing the words hope, love, joy and peace. Jesus wants us to experience each of those attributes to energize and guide us not only during the month of December but all year long. When we are living out those actions and experiencing those feelings, we’re on the “path of righteousness” or right-ness as written in Psalm 23:3. I think it can be easy to sway off the path sometimes in our lives where we’re anything but full of hope, love, joy and peace, but, Jesus uses that rod to defend us, to strike our enemy, and pull us back to Himself. He does that “for His name’s sake”. For His glory. For His perfect holiness as mentioned above. For the perfect life and relationship He desires us to have with Him.
Lord, You truly are righteous and thank you for guiding us on the path of right-ness with you. Please continue to protect us, slaying our enemy, the evil one, for us. May we live with the fullness of your sufficiency in our lives each day! Thank you for being our Branch and our Shepherd. Amen
During Christmastime, which attribute draws your attention the most? Hope, love, joy or peace? Why? Or, how does it make you feel knowing that Jesus is your protector?