The Righteousness of the Law
In Romans 10, Paul speaks of his fellow Jews who sought to attain to righteousness through their own works, a course which left them far short of obtaining the glory of God.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establishing their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
This lack of the true knowledge of God caused Paul to say, “What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:7). Because they refused to submit to God’s righteousness, Israel was blinded to the salvation promised through the law and the prophets.
God had already warned, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets” (Rom. 3;20-21).
This is an important text to show that the righteousness of God which could not be obtained in the law was in fact witnessed by the law. It was now (in Paul’s day) being revealed and witnessed by the law and the prophets.
The Law Prophesied of Righteousness
According to Matthew 11:13, the Bible says “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” We can find in Jeremiah, God’s promise of righteousness in the last days.
“Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, ‘That I will raised to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel willd well safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jer. 23:5-6)
God said Judah’s righteousness would be the Lord himself. This declaration signified a change of the covenant relationship God had with His people as expressed in the following verse. He would no longer be regarded as the God who delivered them from Egypt.
Rather, it is the time when He would regather the tribes who were scattered abroad forming them as the remnant. The fulfillment of this text therefore belongs to a time after Pentecost for it includes the restoration of Israel. We see this outworking in the New Testament in Paul’s mission to the Gentiles and Peter’s mission to the dispersion, 1 Pet. 1:1).
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ “but, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land” (Jer. 23:7-8).
Israel and Judah Restored Through A New Covenant of Forgiveness
The remnant among Israel and Judah obtain righteousness as they are united together in Christ. “Behold the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah–“not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them says the Lored. For I will foregive their iniquity , and their sin I will remember no more.”
The Branch of Righteousness
The restoration from captivity of Judah from Babylon is the spring board for the prophecy to restore Israel. “Behold, the days are coming, “says the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’
Christ is the End of the Law for Righteousness
The reason Paul desired salvation for his brethren and prayed for them is because they were rejecting Jesus Christ, who is “The Lord Our Righteousness’ spoken of in Jeremiah. While the remnant were enjoying this salvation, the majority in Israel were blinded and sought their salvation through the law.
Paul wrote, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). As we demonstrated that God would no longer be regarded as the God who delivered Old Covenant Israel from Egypt, but as the God of all nations, Jew and Gentile who believed on Him through Jesus Christ. God dissolved Israel’s exclusive ethnic privilege through Christ, (Gal. 3:26-28).
When Paul says Christ is the “end” of the law for righteousness, he uses the word “telos” which means a goal or end point to be attained. It expressed an incompleteness which would only be attained at Christ’s parousia. The following scriptures illustrate this point.
The Hope of Righteousness
We must not conclude however that salvation was complete in Jesus’ sacrificial and vicarious death. Righteousness could not be obtained under the law, but through faith, for the just shall live by faith.
For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5). Righteousness, as prophesied by Jeremiah is Christ. Since this text is focused on the “hope of righteousness” it was not completed or fulfilled at Pentecost, contrary to what many believe. This is the everlasting righteousness Daniel spoke about in his prophecy of the seventy weeks.
According to Peter, this righteousness is found in the Christ, in the new heavens and earth which arrived at the destruction of Old Covenant Judaism. “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (3 Peter 3:13). We cannot therefore, make the righteousness a fulfilled event at Pentcost. Righteousness came at Jesus’ parousia.