We often find repeated phrases and sentences as we read through the scriptures. Thus we see this particular sentence repeated almost verbatim in verses 14, 18, and 20. Certainly it would behoove those who find these sorts of passages to pay close attention to them, because they are used to emphasize fundamental truths which must not be ignored. One of my favorite passages where this sort of emphasis is found is in Psa 24:7-10, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.”
The Old Testament saints, (due to their limited understanding of the mysteries which would later be revealed), likely would have considered these words in light of the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the tabernacle (and later the temple) with fanfare and praise. Those saints who have, now, been given eyes to see the glory of the TRUE TEMPLE which the LORD pitched and not man, can recognize and rejoice in, the resurrection and ascension of the LORD JESUS CHRIST into that Holy Place, in the very presence of the Eternal GOD.
Thus the emphasis of this scripture is to manifest the Eternal SONSHIP of our LORD, who is seated upon the throne of power, and is worthy of all praise. For HE is the LORD; strong and mighty. HE has demonstrated HIS might in battle, as HE has overcome all of HIS enemies, triumphing over them, openly. There is none OTHER who is worthy of praise, and it is HIS NAME before which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. HE is the KING of GLORY, the LORD of hosts is HE. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) The saints gladly lift up their “heads” and “gates” as they see HIM as their HOPE and REDEEMER as well as the “gates” of Heaven are opened as HE enters triumphantly with the spoils of battle. Reign, sweet SAVIOR, ever reign! “Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.” (John 21:12)
Another time when a repeated phrase is used is found in Luke 13:2-5, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” The LORD clearly set forth the necessity of the operation of repentance in those who escape the wrath to come.
It is bound in the heart of a man, by nature, to consider that his own righteousness, relative to that of others, has some bearing on his blessing in this life and will surely affect his destiny in the ages to come. Yet the LORD continually laid the axe to the root of such comparisons as HE often pointed out the wickedness of the Pharisees, whom the Jews held in high esteem as men of great integrity and righteousness, who would surely be accepted by GOD. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:20) This was an astounding revelation to HIS hearers, and sets forth the impossibility of men gaining GOD’s blessing by any activity of their own or anything to be gained by comparing one man’s imperfections to another.
Yet we read here in Ezekiel’s prophecy a seeming commendation of the “righteousness” of three men, held in high regard by those to whom he prophesied. Surely his hearers would have considered these men as head and shoulders above the crowd, insofar as faithfulness and adherence to the commands of GOD. In, this consideration, they manifest the thoughts of men, “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)” (Rom 2:15)
But this is the natural thinking of men. This is that which Solomon spoke of, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Pro 14:12) Ezekiel uses this notion of men to emphasize the truth that “God is no respecter of persons.”(Acts 10:34) This, being the case, leaves men without any shred of hope, before GOD, arising from that which they have performed relative to others. The prophet knew of their esteem of these three men, and mentioning them, builds the case that what they possessed could not be obtained by an approval of their faithfulness nor could their faithfulness in anywise aid those that esteemed them.
The “RIGHTEOUSNESS” which Noah, Daniel, and Job possessed was particularly given to them and is the only “RIGHTEOUSNESS” which any man can stand in as approved by GOD. This is not a “righteousness” which is measured in morality, devotion, or faithfulness of sinful flesh for the LORD is of purer eyes than to look upon sin. Surely each of these men, regardless of how they may have compared to other men, were sinners by birth, by nature, and by choice.
It is often true that men think they can walk in righteousness by joining themselves to others who confess that they are strangers and pilgrims in the earth. By joining various religious assemblies, some consider that they shall be carried along to glory upon that basis. Even if Noah, Daniel, or Job sat in the pew beside them, such would not be sufficient to give them an entrance into the courts of Heaven. All of these men are said to have “RIGHTEOUSNESS” so we must examine what that “RIGHTEOUSNESS” is.
Noah. We read in the book of Genesis, a description of the state of men in the earth at the time. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5) I see no exceptions made in this assessment. Some have opined that Noah was spared because he was morally upright in comparison to the rest, but the only reason why Noah (and his family), was spared while the rest of the world perished is; “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Gen 6:8) This does not say that Noah earned favor by his deeds or faith (for such would not be grace) and he is not mentioned as a “just man” (possessing RIGHTEOUSNESS) until after we read that “he found grace.” Thus we can conclude that he was set apart from the rest of the wicked world because of the work of grace in him which caused him to be a “preacher of RIGHTEOUSNESS” (II Pet. 2:5).
Daniel. Many of the Jews perished when Nebuchadnezzar besieged and conquered Jerusalem, yet Daniel was among those who were spared and carried to Babylon. Later on we see the revelation of the LORD’s purpose in this as he was exalted in that kingdom and was enabled by the LORD to pen great prophecies, declaring the establishment of the righteous Kingdom of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. One can see clearly the same grace which favored Noah in operation in Daniel’s life. We can also see the fruit of that grace as he was humbled before the LORD confessing his depravity before HIM. “There remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. (Dan 10:8)
Job, Job was a very imperfect man both in his understanding and the expression of it. Yet he too was brought to see that he had no righteousness before GOD of his own making, confessing: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
The RIGHTEOUSNESS of all three of these men was found in the same SOURCE, even as that of all who shall stand in the presence of GOD. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. “ (1Cor 1:30-31) To trust in any other righteousness is to surely perish. In whom is your confidence placed?mam