The Lord Our Righteousness

By Jerelyn Pearson


Recently my nine-year-old granddaughter Alex was looking in the table of contents of her Beginner’s Bible to select a story to read. Her table of contents is divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. So, she asked me the difference between the two. I tried to think of a simple explanation to this complicated question. But I probably used too many words and she was ready to move on. Since then I’ve given it more thought. The simplest explanation I’ve heard is that the Old Testament is Christ concealed. The New Testament is Christ revealed.

I’ve become interested in learning more about Christ in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we learn that Christ was with God in the beginning.

John 1:1-2, 14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus has been with God from the beginning. The Old Testament includes Jesus Christ.

One way that the Old Testament teaches us about Christ is through historical events that actually happened. Today I’d like for us to look at some events that teach us about righteousness.

How important is righteousness to God? Let’s go to Mt. Sinai where the Lord came down in the sight of all the people.

Exodus 19:10-13
10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
11 And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

The Lord wanted the people to approach the mount. But first they had to be sanctified. He warned them not to go beyond certain boundaries. The penalty would be death. This is a very harsh punishment. Even three days of sanctification wasn’t enough to allow them to cross his boundary. They could only approach it. His presence on the mount was so pure and righteous that any person or animal that even touched the boundary would be put to death. That’s how serious God is about righteousness. There is no room for compromise.

We cannot approach the presence of God in our own righteousness. We need the righteousness of Christ to be in the presence of God.

Even Moses wasn’t allowed to see God’s face.

Exodus 33:18-23
18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.
19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

God’s glorious righteousness is too much for man to see and live. He protected Moses from seeing the fulness of his glory in the cleft of the rock.

According to the Matthew Henry Commentary: “This was the rock in Horeb out of which water was brought, of which it is said, That rock was Christ, 1 Cor. 10:4.”

He protects us too. The only way for us to see God is through the eyes of Jesus Christ.

The ark of the covenant where the presence of God dwelt was involved in at least two occasions resulting in death.

On one occasion many were killed who looked inside the ark of the covenant, which had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, who greatly abused it.

1 Samuel 6:19-20
19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
20 And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

God got the attention of those men in Bethshemesh. They acknowledged his holiness and feared his power. God values righteousness and takes a stand against the unrighteous. We too should fear the one who makes us righteous.

They were ready to get rid of the ark and passed it on.

1 Samuel 6:21
And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

1 Samuel 7:1
And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.

The second occasion of disrespect to the ark of the covenant continues in 1 Chronicles 13. David is speaking.

1 Chronicles 13:3-10
3 And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul.
4 And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
5 So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjathjearim.
6 And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the LORD, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.
8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.
9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.

In casually reading this passage, I have wondered why Uzza was struck down for trying to steady the Ark when he seemed to have good intentions. Well for one thing he knew better. The ark was designed so that is could be moved without being touched.

Exodus 25:12-15
12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.

The previous passage said in verse seven that they carried the ark of God in a new cart. Perhaps the new cart was not made to God’s specifications. God has reasons for his instructions. The ark of the covenant was the place above which God’s righteous presence dwelt. Its boundary was not to be invaded.

The ark of the covenant was designed as a dwelling place for the presence of God. This passage makes it clear how serious God is about righteousness. There is no room for compromise. He wants us to take it seriously too.

We will conclude with a New Testament passage which describes The King of kings and Lord of lords who dwells in the light which no man can approach unto…

1 Timothy 6:11-16
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

It is by seeing Christ in the Old Testament that we learn more about our Holy God and his view of righteousness. The children of Israel had to be sanctified and warned of boundaries under penalty of death in order to approach the righteous presence of God at Mt Sinai. Even Moses wasn’t allowed to see God’s face or he would have died. The men of Bethshemesh died because they looked into the ark of the covenant when it was in their possession. Uzza was struck down when he tried to steady the ark.

Through these and many more events in the Old Testament, events which really happened, God illustrates his view of righteousness as absolute and uncompromising. The Law was the standard of righteousness that had to be fulfilled for man to be reconciled with God. Every aspect had to be obeyed perfectly. It was a complete package.

Deuteronomy 6:24-25
24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

James 2:10
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

There was no way other than sending his Son to live the perfect life and pay the price for all of man’s sin, to accomplish this reconciliation.

My hope is that now we can appreciate more fully the vast distance Christ’s sacrifice bridged for us allowing us to be in the presence of our Righteous God.

I encourage you to pray for revelation and look for Jesus as you read passages in the Old Testament. He will meet you there.


Presented January 26, 2020 in French Settlement, LA