Christian Churches of God
The Breastplate of Righteousness
(Edition 1.0 20080725-20080725)
In this paper we will review the concept of righteousness and justice and why they are so important to Eloah and every Christian.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
From Ephesians 6:14 we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness. So, what is righteousness and who possess it and how is it demonstrated or shown?
Righteousness and justice are essentially the same concepts being the same word in Hebrew.
Tsĕdaqah (SHD 6666) means justice and righteousness; it is the same word. Therefore, a Christian cannot be righteous without being just and vice versa.
The Church and each individual have a responsibility to judge righteously, swiftly, completely and mercifully. Righteousness requires each one of us to act on our logical judgement of the situation. It is unacceptable to know that a system is false and to stay in that false system. We can not pervert justice by presenting false testimony or reports. It is equally wrong to say, "I donít know what to do, so I will do nothing." We are commanded to act upon our knowledge. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ assists us to judge and to act on that judgement. We are to take over the millennial structure and to assist people to live in the period of Just Rule, to be brought in by Messiah.
One can not underestimate the importance of righteousness and justice being tied together.† See the paper Proverbs 31 (No. 114) for more details, in addition to numerous other papers on the concept of the link with righteousness and justice.
Now let us look at what things are listed as being righteous from scripture. Let us start with the most important aspect, Eloah and His Law.
We have learned from previous lessons that God and His Law share five things in common.
God and His Law are:
* Righteous: Ezra 9:15; Psalm 119:172;
* Perfect: Matthew 5:48; Psalm 19:7;
* Holy: Leviticus 19:2; Romans 7:12;
* Good: Psalm 34:8; Romans 7:12;
* Truth: Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 119:142.
God and His Law have always existed. It is through being baptised, receiving the Holy Spirit and keeping the Commandants and the Lordís Supper that we become like God. For more details on the subject see The Creation of the Family of God (No. CB4).
We are also to become righteous and holy from Ephesians 4.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
We are to be partaking of the divine nature of Eloah (2Pet. 2:4) which means we are to be developing the same traits or character Eloah has always possessed.
Here we have seen that two features of the armour of Eloah Ė righteousness and truth Ė are also linked to Eloah and His Law. It becomes very clear why God tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness daily.
So, what is a breastplate and how did it work anciently when men went into battle?
The breastplate is described as:
Medieval weaponry, the breastplate is the front portion of plate armour covering the torso. It has been an armour mainstay since ancient times and was one of the last pieces of functional armour to be used on the battlefield because it protected the vital organs without limiting mobility.
The protection was designed to cover/protect the heart and other organs within the rib cage.† When we look at the concept of the breastplate from a spiritual point of view only God knows the heart (Heb. 4:12). Though David sinned and made grave mistakes, due to his attitude of repentance he was a man after Godís own heart (Acts 13:22), which is a huge credit or honour to King David.
In the First year of this Sabbath cycle at Passover, we did the series on The Garments of the High Priest (No. CB61).† We will now briefly look at which aspects of the High Priestís garments seem to correspond to the armour of Eloahís breastplate.
The Armour of Eloah and the Garments of the High Priest
Exodus 39:8-21 gives us a detailed description of the breastpiece. The High Priest wore the breastpiece of righteousness on his chest for the Twelve Tribes. The urim and thummin were two stones contained in the ďpocketĒ of the breastpiece, which gave the yes/no. The word of God clearly now gives of us the yes/blessings or no/cursings yet it is up to the individual what they will choose to do. God always wants us to choose to obey yet He does not force us to obey.
It is interesting to note that the breastpiece was anchored or attached to the ephod /apron at the top on the two onyx stones and names of six of the tribes were written on each stone, and on the lower edge with two gold rings tied with blue ribbon securing it to the belt of truth.
We learn what that meaning was from Exodus 28:30: "Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually."
Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastplate of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually (Ex. 28:28,29). The breastplate is referred to as the breastplate of judgement. In the breastplate are the Urim and Thummim and they shall be over Aaronís heart when he goes before the Lord; and Aaron shall carry the judgement of the sons of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually (Ex. 28:3). Exactly the same symbolism of glory is assigned to the precious stones in the description of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:11,19-21), a passage that ties together with the arrangement of the tribes in their camps, and that of the precious stones in the breastplate.
The breastplate was tied to the ephod, just as judgement is tied to the sons of Israel through Messiah. Israel was Yahovahís portion. We saw what happened to the Israelites when they turned from Godís Laws and went after false gods during their journey to the Promised Land. Deuteronomy chapter 28 tells us about the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience.
Aaron, as High Priest, prefigured Christ as High Priest from his appointment above his fellows when he, Christ, was accepted as the perfect sacrifice on Wave Sheaf, in 30 CE.
Materials of the Breastplate and Ephod
The breastplate and ephod were made of all five materials. ďAnd thou shalt make the breastplate of judgement with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold of blue, and purple, and of scarlet material and of twined linen, shall thou make itĒ (Ex. 28:6,15, NASV). The RSV uses the word ďstuffĒ for material and other versions omit the word totally.
Five is the number of Grace; we also know of the five centralities of Eloah and His Law.
Just as we saw these items or concepts secured together on the High Priestís robes, they too are also tied in the five centralities of God and His Law of which we are to become like Him taking on the diving nature (2Pet. 2:4).
Here we see that righteousness and truth, which are two of the five centralities of God and His Law, are shown in the armour of God.
Though the Old Testament gave us great detail on how to make the breastpiece, yet in Ephesians we are using physical examples such as the breastpiece to convey spiritual concepts such as righteousness.
Let us now look at how scripture ties righteousness and truth together.
In the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith, for he who through faith is righteous shall live (Rom. 1:14-17). God did not design for mankind to be sentenced to wrath and hardship, but to receive salvation through Jesus Christ (1Thes. 5:9).
The Holy Spirit leads us to all truth (Jn. 16:13). The first fruit of the Holy Spirit is the guardianship or protecting of the truth (2Tim. 6:13). The Holy Spirit is of power and love and self-control. One of the responsibilities of the elect is the protection of the truth as the first step of righteousness. Here again we see righteousness and truth tied together.
17 verses in the Bible contain both the word righteousness and truth. Some of the concepts are contained below. Just as we saw on the High Priestís robes the tie between these two concepts we see the similar concepts in scripture.
God is a God of righteousness and truth.
Psalm 96:13 Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth
Psalm 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
God is truth and dwells in truth and righteousness
Jeremiah 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
Zechariah 8:8 and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
The fruit of the Spirit comes from God; it too is righteousness and truth.
Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; (KJV)
By our words we show forth truth and righteousness. We should always be reflecting Godís character to the world.
Proverbs 12:17 He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.
He who walks with integrity and works righteousness and speaks the truth ÖPsa 15:2
We too should be wearing the armour of Eloah, which includes His righteousness and truth.
Ephesians 6:14 stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
It should be clear that righteousness is very important to Eloah and therefore should be a part of our very being too.
We also see righteousness listed as one of the Beatitudes. Letís look at Matthew 5 in more detail and see what we can learn about righteousness from there.
The Sermon on the Mount by Christ at Matthew 5 is also referred to as the Beatitudes. It has power and far-reaching importance for all of us.
The Beatitudes are the blessings to his Church Ė his people. They are taken as a model or a guideline for the behaviour or conduct of the elect. Of the nine Beatitudes, two of them focus on righteousness. We will only look at the aspect of righteousness in this section.
The fourth Beatitude is: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Mat. 5:6).
To hunger and thirst is spiritual here and it means we desire the knowledge of God. Psalm 119 shows the concepts in the Law, and righteousness follows from the Law.
We must want to be righteous and act in a righteous and just manner. We should ask God to give us His Spirit to help us understand His Law. To do this we also need to read the Bible to know and understand His Commandments (Deut. 4:8; Hab.1:4; Ps. 119:42).
The Ten Commandments are central to us being righteous. For more information look at the papers The Ten Commandments (No. CB17) and The Law of God (No. CB25). It is from understanding the Law and doing the Law of God that we will be filled with knowledge of Godís will and His ways. If we obey God He directs our thoughts (Prov. 16:3).
It is the Holy Spirit that helps us learn and obey the Law and to be righteous (see the paper What is the Holy Spirit? (No. CB3).
Let us now look at the Eighth Beatitude, which also focuses on righteousness.
As the Eighth Beatitude, Christ said: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 5:10). What Christ is saying here is that we are blessed if we continue obeying God even though people may scoff or make fun of us and we might feel uncomfortable being different from others in what we do.
Being obedient sometimes means we donít go to some get-togethers. It is not easy when we have to say "NO" to so many invitations and celebrations of this world. For example, we have to say "NO" to the Christmas and Easter celebrations (see the paper Why we don't celebrate Christmas (No. CB24)).
Some people are understanding and will accept us, but sometimes people donít like it when we put God before them. They take it that we donít love and value them. They donít understand that keeping the Commandments is more important, but one day they will be doing it too and will regret that they made us feel bad.
We need to make sure that we show our love and respect in other areas that donít compromise our love for God. If people get upset because they donít understand about putting God before anything or anyone else then we canít worry about it. We need to stay true to God and if we do that we will be true to ourselves and will have our reward. That does not mean we wonít have some sad times now, but our reward will be great later.
See also Acts 7 and Isaiah 66:5, which are further examples of persecution of Godís people by others who think they know God but do not. We have nothing to fear as long as we are obeying Godís word. If God be for us who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31).
The righteousness of Eloah is a very broad subject area. We will now briefly review other aspects of the righteousness of Eloah.
Eloah is righteous (Ps. 7:9; 11:7; 71:15; 116:5; 119:137).
His right hand is full righteousness (Ps. 48:10). Eloahís righteousness is everlasting (Ps. 119:142) and endures forever (Ps. 111:3).
The Heavens shall declare the righteousness of God (Ps. 50:6; 97:6).
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Eloahís Throne (Ps. 97:2).
Christ knew of the righteousness of God (Jn. 17:25), as also the angels knew (Rev. 16:5).
Eloahís testimonies are righteousness (Ps. 119:138,144) as are His Commandments (Deut. 4:8; Ps. 119:172), His judgments (Ps. 19:9; 119:7,62), His ways (Ps. 145:17), His acts (Jdg. 5:11; 1Sam. 12:7), His government (Ps. 96:13; 98:9) and the Gospel (Ps. 85:10; Rom 3:25,26) are all righteous.
He is a just and righteous God; the final judgment (Acts 17:31) and the punishment of the wicked (Rom. 2:5; 2Thes. 1:6; Rev. 16:7; 19:2) are also righteous.
Elihu speaks of Eloahís righteousness (Job 36:3), as does Daniel (Dan 9:7,16). Ezra too referred to the righteousness of the God of Israel (Ezr. 9:15; Neh 9:8). David said he would sing of Godís righteousness (Ps. 51:14) and asked that his soul be delivered out of trouble (Ps. 143:11). Micah was sure he would see His righteousness (Mic. 7:9).
We can take great comfort in knowing His word is righteous (Ps. 119:123) and upheld by His righteous right hand as Isaiah 41:10 explains
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
The righteousness of God (as Adoni Yahovah and Elohim) was mentioned (Ps. 71:16); talked of (Ps. 35:28; 71:15,24); and declared to others (Ps. 22:31). We are to give thanks to Yahovah for His righteousness (Ps. 7:17).
We should pray to be led in the righteousness of God (Ps. 5:8) and for God to answer in righteousness (Ps. 143:1); to be judged according to righteousness and to be delivered in righteousness (Ps. 35:24; 31:1; 71:2).
As mentioned earlier in the lesson, there is a period of Just Rule coming; we will now look at that period in detail.
We know there is a period referred to as the time of Just Rule (for more information see FAQ Bible Study New Testament (No. 58) and The Eternal Kingdom of God (No. 144)). It is not that far in the future now. In 2027/2028 Messiah will usher in the Millennium. Satan and the fallen Host will already be bound; and for the first time in 6000 years the people on the Earth will not be influenced by Satanís thoughts. The period of Just Rule will be ushered in by Messiah.
Messiah will govern righteously. It will no longer rain on the just and the unjust. Only those obeying God will receive rain in due season or at the right time of the year. Psalm 9 alludes to this when the world will be judged in righteousness.
Psalm 9:7-8 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
At the end of the 1000 years, Satan and the fallen Host will be released from the pit; they lead the people living on the planet in another rebellion against Eloah and His Law. It seems amazing that after living under just and right rule for all most a 1000 years people will choose to disobey God; yet, that is what the Bible tells us will happen.
Messiah and the saints once and for all deal with Satan and the fallen Host; their spiritual life is removed from them. They die and are raised as men (Isa. 14:16). The fallen Host, like all beings, will be given an opportunity to learn and live by Godís Laws in the Great White Throne Judgement. 1Corinthians 15:28 and Ephesians 4:6 tell us that God will be all in all and He does not want any to perish (2Pet. 3:9). Therefore, we believe Satan and fallen Host will choose to obey God. However, they will not be restored to their original positions in Godís government, but they too will have jobs and duties to perform.
Once sin no longer exists on the planet we see that we await a new Heaven and a new Earth.
We await the new heaven and the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, according to the promise (2Pet. 3:13)
The Bible is not clear what Eloah has planned after this, yet we know He is not idle. Therefore, we can expect His Kingdom and Family to continue in some fashion.
Let each one of us daily put on the breastplate of righteousness so our thoughts, words and actions can all be just and right and we can take our place in the army of God and work while there is light to bring the Gospel to the world, prior to the arrival of the Witnesses. Once Messiah returns to the Earth those that have qualified will be raised from the dead and those alive will be changed to spirit beings, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Then, as part of the spiritual family of God, these spirit beings praise Eloah continually and work to bring His Plan to completion. Let us each work diligently so as not to lose our place in the First Resurrection.
In closing Ö
Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3,9,22; Gen. 15:6). Let us all have that unwavering faith in God to bring His Plan to pass.
1Peter 3 has much to say on righteousness.
1Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
We should always try to keep the Commandments of Eloah engraved/etched in our hearts and try to keep our robes spotless, white and clean as we all try to become like Eloah and His Law: i.e. Holy, Righteous, Goodness, Perfect and Truth.
Always remember Ephesians 4:22-24:
Ephesians 4:22-24 Ö that, in reference to your former manner of life you lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self which in the likeness of God had been created in righteousness and holiness of truth. (NASV)
Let us all try to be as David where his son, Solomon, describes him as: ďHe walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with theeĒ (1Kgs. 3:6). So let it be said of all of us.