Chapter 5 starts with a lament for Israel for the destruction she’s about to endure. The Lord yet again implores them to seek him, but of course they don’t. Then we get another litany of their wrongdoing, and more imploring:
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
They don’t and he doesn’t. The day of the Lord makes an appearance again, but it’s a day of judgment not salvation. I guess the Israelites think they can bribe God with their religious feasts and assemblies, but he says he hates, despises, and cannot stand them. Pretty harsh. What exactly is he looking for then?
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
That’s what he’s looking for! It can’t be that hard, but I guess it is because they are addicted to their idolatry. So the Lord promises judgment and exile.
Again I ask for the zillionth time through the prophets, why all this? It makes a broken record appear normal. Over and over and over and over. Again we know it can only point to Jesus because he told us it was ALL about him. Apart from him we are and can do nothing to please God, who requires justice like a rolling river, and righteousness like a never-failing stream! But we fail all the time! That is why we need another’s righteousness. From Paul:
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
I wonder which law and prophets Paul means because the law and the prophets tell us we can’t pull it off. It would be hard to infer from the law and the prophets that we’d be given the very righteousness God requires of us as a free gift. But he has! Paul further says:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Only if Christ himself is our righteousness can it be a “never-failing stream!” And yet again, Paul tells us how this was accomplished:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God’s justice, the necessity of sin to be punished and its guilt addressed, had to be satisfied, and only in Christ, God himself, could that be accomplished. As Jesus tells us in John’s gospel:
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.
On the cross, as Jesus said his mission was “finished,” the curtain to the holy of holies was torn asunder, and we were reconciled to God, forever.
The redundancy of the prophets and Israel’s pathetic history tell us what a humongous deal this really was. No matter what we do or don’t do, we can never be more or less righteous before God than we can be in Christ. HE is our righteousness!