Isaiah was living in the VIII century B.C., when the words, imaginations and actions of God’s people were defiled with disobedience, rebellion and sin. The prophet knew that he could not expect much good from men. As he had a more clear revelation of God’s holiness, he ardently wished and sought God for cleansing and righteousness in his life and in the lives of his people. Answering his sincere prayer, the Lord revealed to him that righteousness is available, and he was assured that it would be clearly revealed by the Son of God, and that many would receive it. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). It was the wonderful promise of redemption through the blood of Jesus!
Another prophet had a similar burden for the spiritual condition of the people and to him also, more than a century later, the Lord assured the gift of righteousness by “The Righteous Branch.” “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:5, 6). To confirm the certainty of the promise, the prophecy was later repeated with almost the same words: “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this [is the name] wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness”. (Jeremiah 33:16).
Besides these clear promises to the prophets, the Lord revealed also the time when this everlasting righteousness will be purchased for the human beings. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). Exactly at the indicated time Jesus came and offered the great sacrifice for the justification of all who believe in him. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18 ) and so we have now the great gift to be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
This is the wonderful message that God has give us: to pardon our sins, to give freedom from guilt and condemnation, to offer righteousness and acceptance by His grace and sanctification. This is the message that fills our hearts with hope and joy, the message that, if truly accepted, changes our life completely. It is this message that gives power to the church and will enlighten the world. For this reason, we propose these readings on the righteousness of Christ at the end of this year 2008. We do so with prayer and with hope that they may be a great blessing to all and bring among us the revival that the Lord is expecting. We wish that all who study this blessed subject will have a special experience with the Lord!
From the beginning of the Week of Prayer, the church elder or other local leader should announce the special offering to be collected on the last Sabbath of the readings. This offering is devoted -entirely to the General Conference headquarters and the advancement of the work on a worldwide level. Remember that “Spiritual prosperity is closely bound up with Christian liberality. The followers of Christ should rejoice in the privilege of revealing in their lives the beneficence of their Redeemer. As they give to the Lord they have the assurance that their treasure is going before them to the heavenly courts.” – The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 344, 345. It should also be announced that the last Sabbath of the Week of Prayer is a special day of fasting.
–The Brethren and Sisters
of The General Conference