How to Be Righteous- Old Testament
When I think of the topic of righteousness from the Old Testament I feel I need to start a little before the actual word first appears. This is mainly because the word “righteous” is not used when talking about Adam or Enoch.
Adam and Eve, when in the garden, walked with God. Or at least that is what it seems to infer was normal in Genesis 3:8
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
God came and took a walk in the garden. It seems to me He did this regularly and walked and talked with them. Obviously as new, innocent creations they were righteous before the fall. There was nothing keeping them from having face to face conversation with their creator.
Enoch was taken by God and did not die. He walked with God all the days of his life. This walking with God is what I believe righteousness is all about. What our true purpose is.
The same vocabulary is used when the word “righteous” is first used in scripture. The first actual mention is with Noah.
Gen 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”
Here it also says he walked with God.
When God makes the covenant with Abraham He says “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” Genesis 17:1 But before God tells Abraham this, it says, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Gen 15:6
Faith leading to righteousness came before walking faithfully before, or with, God. Of course, in order to walk with someone you have believe in them. Faith is the beginning of walking with God. But not just faith in His existence. Faith in His word and that He is who He says He is.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
So it is not just believing He is real but also believing His heart for you. That He desires to reveal Himself to His creation.
At the beginning of the Old Testament it seems that righteousness is only by faith and is lived out in intimacy with God. Of course, these examples have been with individuals.
When the nation of Israel is sanctified to God, He gives them laws with which to be righteous. So, is it now by laws that we please God? Well, we can tell by the commandments given that the foundation has not changed:
Deut. 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
As Jesus said in the New Testament, the greatest command is to love God with all your heart, soul and strength. Fulfilling this fulfills loving your neighbor as well. No one loves your neighbor like their Creator and Savior and Father. And through loving God and your naighbor, the rest of them are naturally obeyed.
So indeed, righteousness in the Old Testament is by faith in God and intimacy with Him, just as it is in the New Testament.
The laws given to Israel were also to be a sign to the other nations of the perfect justice and righteousness of God who gave the laws to them. Of His fairness and understanding and also of His holiness and provision.
To us it may seem like a ton of laws. More than 600 in total. But in that day, laws showed that there was justice and order and cleanliness and fairness. Deuteronomy 4:8 “What great nation is there that has laws and rulings as just as this entire Torah which I am setting before you today?”
The laws show the heart of God. Not to kill, steal, covet, or give false testimony against the innocent. To love one another. The laws also covered cleanliness and justice depending on the transgression, how to work the land and so on.
Another interesting factor is that before God gave them these laws He showed His glory to them. His glory came down on the mountain in a cloud, with fire and darkness and with trumpet blasts. God had Moses and Aaron walk into the darkness and cloud to speak to Him directly so the people would listen to them.
He is God who is always revealing Himself to us. This is the origin of our righteousness.
When it comes to the commands, loving God first would make the rest of the laws second nature. That is why Deuteronomy 6:24-25 says “…if we are careful to obey all his laws before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
Obeying laws was their righteousness because all these laws are founded and preceded by loving God.
There are many verses, especially in Psalms, about what the righteous do. A lot of them have to do with rejoicing in God’s faithful love, in His laws and justice and in His provision and glory… because to be righteous is to know and love God and have His love for His creation.
❤ Kara J