Jesus and Covenantal Righteousness
by Harley Voogd
Do we fully grasp the righteousness of Jesus in the post-Reformation world? Is theology set in stone now? Was it perfected by the Reformers?
The Reformation did a lot of good for Christianity, but one thing it did not do is reconnect the Church with its Hebraic roots in covenant; i.e. the covenant started with Abraham and continuing on to Jesus and beyond. Post-Reformation Christians are more influenced by Plato than they are by Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and even Paul.
Because the modern Church does not have a proper understanding of the covenant which existed between God and Israel, we get a whole lot wrong when trying to understand the life, teachings, and work of Jesus two thousand years ago.
Followers of Plato tend to believe that there is a standard of good and evil, which can exist apart from God, which God Himself submits to, even if He Himself created that standard. Hebrew faith, however, holds that God arbitrarily decides what is good and evil, and without God there would be no such thing as good and evil. If the Hebrews are correct, then how can we ever know if we are in right standing with God? According to the Hebrews, we can know through covenant: a covenant in which the conditions are clearly laid out for each party — God has His obligations and the people have theirs.
The righteousness of Jesus, then, in regards to His life and ministry two thousand years ago, is not so much dependant on Him perfectly submitting to a standard of good and evil as it is dependant on Him perfectly submitting to the conditions of the covenant existing between God and Israel.
So, we could say that the primary mission of Jesus (the man living two thousand years ago) was not to live a perfect life without sin on behalf of all mankind (although He did indeed do that); His primary mission was to fulfill the primary mission of Israel, which was to reconcile mankind with God.
That kind of sounds like saying the same thing twice in just a little different way. But, why couldn’t have God just given the mission of Israel directly to Jesus first? Why fumble around with Israel at all? I write a little about that here: In The Fullness of Time.