Check out my other blog: Arugula Addict! I'll be writing about my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Righteous Person

I started reading Luke and in the very first chapter, something startled me. It says that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. (Luke 1:6) Before I look further into that, however, I want to set the scene.

I imagine Luke was sitting in his room, quill pen (or whatever they used!) in hand, pensively looking out the window. Then he begins to write. Dear Theophilus, here is my eye-witness account that describes as accurately as possible the truth of prophecy being fulfilled. And then he begins at the very beginning. Luke is the only gospel writer who mentions the birth of John the Baptist. Jesus' cousin was born before Jesus, so Luke added this important chronological event right at the beginning of his epistle.

The king was the same: King Herod. John the Baptist's father was a priest belonging to the order of Abijah (Luke 1:5). I did a little research and from what I can tell, Abijah was a descendant of Eleazar or Ithamar and the eighth lot of temple tasks was assigned to him and his family (1 Chronicles 24:10). While there is another mention of a priestly Abijah in Nehemiah 10:7, I believe that Zechariah would have traced his lineage to Aaron's son. To belong to a priestly order is more significant than to be the son of a priest (which there were many). Elizabeth was also one of Aaron's descendants. We can assume she was also a descendant of Eleazar or Ithamar since Nadab and Abihu had no sons before they died for desecrating the temple (1 Chronicles 24:2). I wonder if they had daughters?

Both of John the Baptist's parents were from the priestly line and his father was serving as a priest. I don't know if there was the option not to be priest, but it's interesting to consider that Elizabeth had descended from the priestly line also. John the Baptist, then, was a priest by birth or heritage. I never realized that before. He served as a prophet but his identity was defined by the priesthood!

Let me return to my original thought. There are several references in the Bible to righteous people. Noah was righteous and blameless (Genesis 6:9), Abraham was righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6), and Abel was righteous because of his faith (Hebrews 11:4). Daniel and Job were described as righteous (Ezekiel 14:14). Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest and Aaron's grandson (not to be confused with Phinehas the son of Eli), stopped a great plague against the Israelites by obeying God's command to kill the Baal worshipers among them (Numbers 25). Interestingly, righteousness is linked with kindness (Psalm 145:17), justice (Proverbs 8:20) faithfulness (Isaiah 26:2), and peace (Isaiah 48:18), among others.

Now we know that nobody is perfect because we are all sinners--this is a Biblical premise. However, to be righteous is to have strong morals that guide your actions. Noah got drunk and Abraham lied about his wife being his full sister so while they were generally guided by high morals, there were lapses in judgement. However, reading this verse in Luke was very encouraging to me. It gave me hope that it is possible to be considered righteous in God's eyes.

I think Satan works hard to keep us discouraged when we think of trying to become good people and honour God in all we're doing. I also think that the only way to combat this is to develop a relationship with God that will guide us into right actions. Daniel, Abel, Job, and Phinehas don't have records of wrong-doing. I know the first three were close to God; I'm not as familiar with Phinehas' story or if there is enough detail in the Bible to learn about him.

Imagine this. Elizabeth was a descendant of the priestly order of Aaron. I like to think she was kind, faithful, peaceful, and had a strong sense of justice. I imagine she was sad they couldn't have children since that was a means of status in that culture. But she didn't become bitter. Instead she followed all the commandments and regulations of God which was an outward evidence of a blameless life that I like to think was rooted in a heart dedicated to God.

To be righteous, we have to look to God. Isaiah 45:24 says that we must acknowledge that God is our source of all our righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 says that what we perceive as righteous deeds are worthless, they are like dirty rags. Rags are used for cleaning and if they are dirty, they have no value or use. Interestingly, if we obey God's commands, then we are considered righteous (Deuteronomy 6:25). There seems to be a paradox here, but I think not. If I do something to be righteous, or to earn merit, then my deeds are worthless. If I obey what God has told me to do because of my relationship with Him and because I want to honour Him in all that I'm doing, then He imputes righteousness to me. Righteousness is a result of faith in God (Romans 4). The deeds naturally follow.

You could simplify it even further. Faith in God = Righteousness. So Elizabeth must have had a strong faith in God as did Zechariah. Though we shall see later in the chapter, Zechariah, the righteous man who had faith in God, doubted the angel who prophesied John the Baptist's birth. But that is for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share a thought or two. . .