We now do not seek to establish our own self-attained
righteousness, our own self-righteousness, but rather we stand only on the
righteousness of Moshiach
Tzidkeinu. We are not to say, "Let's do enough mitzvos to merit
bringing Moshiach up from the grave." Rather, we are to say, "Baruch
Hashem, Moshiach has stood up from the grave, the Bikkurim of the Mesim,
the korban of his nefesh ACCEPTED FOR US (see Lv 23:11 and also 1C 15:20) and, Baruch
Hashem, accepted for us as our justification." Hashem accepts us. What a
gift! What an acquittal! What grace! We cannot boast. It is not OUR merit
that brings Moshiach. It is Moshiach's merit that brings us! It is not OUR
mitzvos that bring Moshiach. It is Moshiach's mitzvah (Ro 5:18 and Isaiah 53:9 and 53:11) that brings us (Isaiah 53:11), because he
bears our iniquities. Moshiach Tzidkeinu (Jer 23:4-5), that is,
Tzadik Avdi (Isaiah
53:9) is the Tzaddik who makes us tzaddikim (Isaiah 53:11) for Moshiach
Tzidkeinu is the Yom Kippur scapegoat who bears away our iniquities (Isaiah 53:11-12). Just
as one man infected the whole race
by his unrighteous act, so another man, Moshiach, introduced chayei olam into
humanity's children by his gracious mitzvah ("worthy or
righteous deed") [see Ro
5:18]. He is our righteousness and our kedushah and our chochmah and
our yeshuah and our Geulah laOlam.
When the definitive presentation of salvation and of escaping eternal doom is presented, the word that gets the most attention is "grace" or "unmerited favor resulting in mercy." The need for grace or "chesed" from on High becomes evident when we see the depravity of the human condition, that mankind is like a sleepwalker in such a profound stupor of ungodly darkness and blindness that it can only be that the whole human race participates in the downward fall of a primeval rebellion. This is Chet Kadmon, an all-pervasive human condition shared from the Fall in the Beginning, just as we as human beings all share the old depraved self we have from the Beginning, an old self that is unregenerate, blind, proud, rebellious, sin-enslaved and subsequently doomed to an unavoidable consequence: death's eternal spiritual separation from G-d. But even in Romans chapter 5, the subject is grace, the grace of G-d, the abundance of grace, the free gift of grace, and G-d's gift of righteousness in which we stand, having been declared innocent already by the L-rd of the Last Judgment and having obtained access to this grace by faith through the grace of the one man Moshiach Adoneinu. However, this grace is not cheap; for repentance cannot be discounted. Therefore, the sinner cannot continue self-seeking and mocking a forgiving, merciful G-d, thinking, "As I sin even more, I make His Grace abound!" Or "Let's do evil things so that G-d will make good come of it!" Never! The reason is that grace is the kindness of G-d. And the kindness of G-d is meant to lead the sinner from self-seeking to repentance, a real repentance that is inward and spiritual and results in walking in love and forgiveness and not rebelliously living for the old depraved self. The forgiven sinner cannot therefore turn from a life of humble faith in order to fall back into pride and boasting against unbelievers, even Jewish unbelievers; because the forgiven sinner himself stands before G-d only through the continuing repentance of saving faith. And this saving faith knows itself freed from sin's enslavement only in continuing repentance under G-d's kindness and grace.
Suppose you were a juvenile delinquent and you were hauled into court guilty of vandalism and destruction of city property. Now imagine also that your older brother was a millionaire who had done all kinds of public works philanthropy for the city. He had built a new hospital and paid for the construction of the library and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the police to be issued bullet-proof vests and for the firemen to get new radios and equipment. Now the judge is ready to sentence you to reform school until he finds out you are the younger brother of the One who had done so much for the city. So he decides to drop the charges against you. This is what G-d has done for you because of the righteousness of Moshiach Ben Dovid. This is your imputed righteousness, credited to you as a beneficient imputation, as a free gift, wholly undeserved by you, all the glory to Moshiach Ben Dovid, your wisdom and your righteousness and your justification.
But wait, you say! What does Ya'akov mean when he says we are justified by works? (See Ya 2:21.) Ya'akov is not arguing with Shaul about faith versus 613 mitzvot works of the law for either Jews or non-Jews. Indeed, this epistle doesn't seem to be aware of non-Jews in shul attendance at all. It is that early. Rather we see Jews neglecting the widow in her distress, fawning over the rich drop-in shul visitor, and being dismissive and rude to the poor Jew who comes into shul hungry and ill-clan. Can such lip-service "faith" be genuine? No! Can it justify? No! Is it real? No! The faith that justifies, the faith we see in Abraham, was not dead lip service. His faith was not a dead faith; it went to work. Shaul says, Faith is active in love (Gal.5:6). They are saying the same thing. Neither Sha'ul nor Ya'akov offers the law in itself as a means to salvation (Jas. 2:10; Gal. 3:10). Both men speak of the "torah of freedom" (Jas. 1:25; 2:12; 1 Cor. 9:21) in a way that implies Moshiach (Jas. 2:1; Ro. 8:2), and Ya'akov, no less than Sha'ul, emphasizes the need for emunah (Jas. 1:3, 6; 5:15), for ahavah (agape) toward G-d (Jas. 1:1), and being reborn from above (Jas. 1:21).
We are justified by the grace of G-d (Ro 3:24). We are justified by Moshiach's kaparah (Ro 5:9). Our holy G-d sees OUR OWN righteousness like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but He has provided khaleefatee (my exchange), a change of clothes, from a suit of filthy rags to a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), His righteousness, the Righteousness of Moshiach, Moshiach Tzidkeinu (Phil 3:9; Ro 3:28). When the Savior Yosef Ben Yaakov delivered his brothers he gave them replacement clothing (see chalifot semalot Gen 45:22). The synonym is temurah meaning "exchange" as in Ruth 4:7 when the Goel is getting ready to give his sandal to Boaz to exchange and trade off his right of redemption. Or look at Job 14:14. The same word is found in Job 14:14 that we find here. In Job chapter 14 it says that a tree stump has a replacement when a sprout shoots up from the stump and the tree begins to rise again. When Moshiach rises again (Ro 4:25) he becomes our replacement. He takes over our sins and we take over his righteousness.
Suppose they made a Broadway play out of your life's story. Suppose the director was very worried because you were only an amateur actor and the Accuser of the Brethren would be in the audience as the opening night critic. But at the last minute suppose they found the perfect Actor and you agreed that he would be your replacement. You said, "He is khaleefatee (my replacement, my exchange)." Then it was no longer you that the Accuser had to deal with but your replacement. What relief that would be for an amateur actor like you!
This is the mystery of the Besuras Hageulah. A riddle, if you will. As a child I actually had a teacher whose real name was Mr. Riddle. I'll never forget him. Listen and you'll know why. I was in the fourth grade. One sinful day of my life I had an "accident" at my desk and my blue jeans were soaked with urine. Being nine years old I was terribly embarrassed, especially when the school bell rang and all the boys in Mr. Riddle's class gathered downstairs in the playground to await by appearance. They were going to taunt me and humiliate me and condemn me. But Mr. Riddle looked out the window and saw the "Calvery mockery" awaiting me, so he showed me another way. Mr. Riddle saved me from the door of condemnation and led me out of the building to another exit, a door of escape. Moshiach Tzidkeinu is the door. Mr. Riddle didn't have to do that but he did because of his mercy and grace. Moshiach went out one door as your replacement so you could go out the other door by his grace through faith. When the Accuser of the Brethren comes to taunt you, say these words to him, "Talk to khaleefatee, my "replacement," my "exchange", Satan."
If we insist on trusting in our own righteousness, if we insist on wearing our own apparel, we will be ejected from the Choson Moshiach's Chasunoh. But Moshiach Tzidkeinu has been given to us as a precious gift. His mitzvah (righteous deed) justifies us (Isaiah 53:11) for Moshiach Tzidkeinu is Tzadik Avdi and is our vicarious, credited righteousness (Isaiah 53:8; Gen 15:6) as Scripture inerrantly declares. We are declared "not guilty" and we are acquitted and made acceptable through what our Goel Redeemer has done for us by the righteousness and obedience of his mitzvah in the matter of the Etz Chayim. Moshiach with his Etz Chayim had his tests and you will have yours. Foreglimpses of Moshiach's Etz Chayim are seen in places like Gen 2:9 and here (we "look up and live" in Num 21:8) in Num 21:8 and 2Sm 18:9 and Deut 27:26 combined with Deut 21:23. This is the mercy of Hashem. Even when by the grace of G-d we repent, and repentance cannot be neglected (Ro 12:1-2), still even then we have nothing to boast about because we contribute nothing to what Hashem has given us in Moshiach Tzidkeinu (Jer 23:5-6). It is a gift (Ro 5:17). It is something that was done for us, something of eternal magnitude that we couldn't do for ourselves. Therefore, we praise His Name forever. Remember, the virtue of any supposed means to justification other than the Etz Chayim and emunah by the chen v'chesed Hashem is counted as
skubala(excrements) [Phil 3:8] and any unrepentant advocate of such false message of forgiveness is doomed to gehinnom eternally [Gal 1:6-9]
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