Why Righteousness Seems So Elusive

No matter how hard we try, we always seem to come up short in our attempts to live rightly before God. Maybe it is because the righteousness we seek cannot be earned.

Jesus didn’t just teach or serve as an example of righteousness; He is our very source. The standard we miss is what we can obtain through our faith in Jesus.

The Prophet Jeremiah was a lone voice during much of his ministry. Referred to as “The Weeping Prophet,” he communicated a drab outlook on the future of God’s people. While he knew that good was coming (Jeremiah 29:11), he was aware that they would endure difficult decades due to their disobedience (Jeremiah 29:10).

Part of the reason that the people of God were so wayward was because of the unrighteous shepherds who led them.  Their “evil acts” were scattering God’s people from Him and one another (Jeremiah 23:2).

Due to how dispersed the people were, Yahweh promised that someone was coming that would restore their needed righteousness.

5 “Look, the days are coming”—this is the LORD’s declaration—
“when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David.
He will reign wisely as king
and administer justice and righteousness in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved,
and Israel will dwell securely.
This is the name he will be called:
The LORD Is Our Righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:5-6
  • This prophesied individual would come from the family lineage of David (Jeremiah 23:5; cf. Matthew 1:1).
  • This coming individual would “reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).
  • This coming leader contrasted the unfaithful leaders who were creating havoc for God’s people during Jeremiah’s time.
  • This coming King would bring about a bar for righteousness. He would not tolerate unrighteousness lingering any longer.

While Jeremiah pointed out into the distance to a figure he could not name, we can see the fingerprints of Jesus all over this passage. He would bring salvation to His people (Jeremiah 23:6). He would save us by laying Himself down. Believers can “dwell securely” because He put Himself at risk.

Jeremiah called this coming Messiah, “The LORD Is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). Note that he does not say that the Lord would bring righteousness; he declared that Yahweh is our righteousness. Jesus did not attempt to meet a standard higher than Himself. Within His nature, the standard is set and kept.

Only through Him can we find that righteousness because it is something He is rather than something we earn.

The reality is that each of us has experienced unhelpful shepherds and chosen wayward paths. Both of those circumstances have positioned us in dangerous situations. Our propensity to do what we think is right puts us in many wrong scenarios. Since we can’t obtain righteousness on our own, we rely on Jesus being our righteousness.