Think about someone you know well. What makes you think you know them well? You probably know their likes and dislikes and how they might think or feel in a given situation. Do you know God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ like that? I ask the question because of what Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
The aim of the Chariot of Fire articles for 2016 is to provide devotional demonstrations that you can do with your family to teach them about knowing God. In John 17:2, we discover that God, the Father, honored His Son by giving Him the authority to give eternal life, so although we can’t govern when our children receive eternal life, we can be His means of grace to them as we teach about eternal life and show them what that looks like on a daily basis.
When we have eternal life, we have the capacity and desire to know God. So when we read the Bible, we should be looking for what the Father and Son think and feel about things. When we read His Word this way, we discover what God likes and dislikes and how He might think or feel in any given situation, just like we know our friends. I hope what is revealed about what Jesus thinks and loves in this month’s Chariot will impact what you think and love.
Jesus Loves Righteousness
We might ask ourselves and our children, “Why did Jesus love righteousness?” I think the answer is simple. Because He loves His Father, and His Father loves righteousness. Perhaps there is a shadow of this in your own family. Although you might point out that each person is unique and should have their own likes and dislikes, in some cases they love what you love just like Jesus loves righteousness because His Father loves righteousness.
Righteousness is the character or quality of being right or just. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says that rightwiseness clearly expresses the meaning. This attribute of God is “essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.” So when we think about righteousness, we are considering whatever is right or just in itself, what conforms to the revealed will of God, what has been appointed by God to be acknowledged or obeyed by man, and the sum total of the requirements of God. To be short and simple, righteousness has to do with right actions, which are determined by what God thinks and says. Now that we have an idea of what righteousness means, let’s zero in on what the Father and Son think about righteousness.
But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions” (Hebrews 1:8-9).
In the passage above, we see an explicit statement about what our Father God thinks about His Son and what His Son thinks about righteousness. Because Jesus loves righteousness, God acknowledges Him as God, establishes His kingdom in righteousness, and anoints Him with gladness.
Can you think of some things your family members like because you like them? For your devotional demonstration, put some objects that represent what you and they enjoy together. Maybe you like watching or playing basketball and your children enjoy it with you. So place a basketball on the table. My dad liked to put salt on apples, so I did it as a boy. I might put an apple and salt shaker on the table. Choose some food that represents how you’ve impacted your family in such a way. As a third example, place the name of a person you really like on a piece of paper. This should be a person that you honor and your children also think highly of them because you do.
Now add to those objects some things that represent what you dislike which have influenced your children. You can think along the same lines as above. Maybe there are certain sports or recreational activities which you have no interest in, a food you avoid, and a person for whom you have no respect.
Using these objects, you can teach the truth of Hebrews 1:8-9 that God reveals an important truth to us about what He thinks and feels so that we might know Him and apply that truth to our lives. What He loves and hates, we also should love and hate. You could read the verses, share the definitions of righteousness, and help them see the correlation between what is written and the objects on the table.
Righteousness is important to God
God wants us to see how important righteousness is to Him. Everything about the temple and its activities was focused on God’s righteousness. It is believed that among the recipients of the book of Hebrews were Jews who were priests in the temple before they were converted to Christ. Their ministry to God and for the people was the administration of the sacrifices. Why all the bloodshed? Because God is righteous, and we are not. He hates lawlessness, and righteousness demands justice for all who break God’s law. Jesus’ death on the cross was the demonstration of God’s righteousness, both of the Father and the Son, which was represented by the sacrifices in the temple.
The writer of Hebrews made the righteousness of Christ a major theme in his letter. Although He was tempted in every way as we are, He was sinless (Heb. 4:15). He loves righteousness. Jesus learned obedience from the things which He suffered, and He obeyed perfectly. (Heb. 5:8-9). He loves righteousness. Because of His righteousness, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, which means, king of righteousness (Heb. 5:9-10). He loves righteousness. God swore by Himself because He alone is righteous, faithful, and true to His Word (Heb. 6:13). He loves righteousness.
Our greatest need is righteousness if we are to have access to God’s throne of grace where we find help in time of need. Because God is righteous, He has provided what we need to approach Him with confidence. God gives us His righteousness through our union with Jesus Christ. How do you know you are the recipient of His righteousness? He has given you faith to believe Jesus is the only purely righteous man who has ever lived and that He lived and died “so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). That’s why Paul wrote that we are justified by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). The word justified means declared righteous. God’s point, and thus my point, is this: Righteousness is important to God, and if it is important to God, then it should be important to us.
Disobedience is hated by God
Not only does God want us to know what He loves, but also to know what He hates. We read of Jesus that He hates lawlessness. The attitude of lawlessness is this:Nobody’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do. I will do what I want! God’s hatred for lawlessness is also revealed in Matthew 7:21-23.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
God’s hatred for disobedience is revealed by the offering of sacrifices in the temple and most significantly by Jesus’ offering on the cross as the only way for God’s wrath to be averted. “God’s wrath has been revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). If we know that God, our Father, and His Son hate lawlessness, disobedience, and unrighteousness, then shouldn’t we hate the same? That’s why you tell your children to obey you, namely, because it is right (Ephesians 6:1). God loves righteousness, and obeying parents in the Lord is right, and thus Ephesians 6:1 implies that God must hate disobedience.
Knowledge of God’s will should produce fruit
God has revealed what He loves and hates in this passage so we can know Him, love what He loves, and hate what He hates. Knowing what our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, love and hate should impact our lives and point the way for us to live accordingly. Paul made this point when He wrote to the Colossians and informed them of God’s will that Jesus Christ have first place in everything.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10).
Do we think like God thinks? Do we love what He loves and hate what He hates? If we love God and know God, then Jesus lives in us. We can ask Him to live His love for His Father through us. Apart from Him we cannot love and do righteousness. I hope you can see why trusting in Jesus as the only way to the Father is so hopeful. We should be filled with gratitude to Jesus Christ for bearing the wrath of His Father against all our unrighteous deeds so that we could be justified, adopted, qualified to share His inheritance, redeemed, forgiven, granted access to Him, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Jesus! Not only is His love for righteousness and perfect obedience on our behalf our hope before God, but it is His life in us that is a fragrant aroma to our Father. God loves righteousness. Jesus loves righteousness. So His life within us will express His love for righteousness. We have been saved “by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” (1 Pet. 1:2).