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The Daily Word of Righteousness
For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. (Isaiah 62:1,2)
One modern edition of the Scriptures, a creditable and useful work in other respects, reveals the error of current Christian thinking when it presents Isaiah as prophesying that the "imputed righteousness and vindication" (of Jerusalem) shall "go forth as brightness," and, "the nations shall see . . . your righteousness and justice [not your own, but His ascribed to you]" (Isaiah 62:1,2).
The expression "imputed righteousness and vindication" is not bracketed, leaving the reader with the impression that the Hebrew text includes the adjective "imputed."
Imputed, ascribed righteousness cannot be seen. The above interpretation of Isaiah is an attempt of a Christian teacher to support the idea that the Christian salvation is a legal state in the mind of God and not an actual transformation of the character of the believers.
Had the editor not been so imbued with the current overemphasis on imputed righteousness, the obvious impossibility of viewing a legal state of justification would have prevented any such interpretation. "Ascribed" righteousness and justice cannot be observed. Imparted, inwrought righteousness and justice indeed can be witnessed, for they are the righteousness and justice that are revealed in the behavior of the saints as the Life of Christ comes to maturity in them.
This edition is particularly dangerous because the editor's notes (not your own, but His ascribed to you), although added in brackets, give the unlearned reader the impression they are part of the translation, proceeding either from the Hebrew language or from the context of the Book of Isaiah. No doubt numerous Christians who have purchased the edition would be alarmed if they understood that "imputed" and "ascribed" proceed from human reasoning and are not a part of the Scriptures. (What other harmful additions may be present?)
Editor's notes included at the bottom or sides of contemporary translations sometimes contain comments that detract from the scriptural emphasis on righteous, holy behavior. Justification is emphasized to such an extent that the scriptural warnings concerning the deadly effects of a sinful life are robbed of their force. The believers should be made aware of this.
Also, current translations sometimes contain questionable liberties, such as the change of "fear" to "reverence," as though fear and reverence were synonyms.
The spirit of humanism has entered Christian doctrine and on occasion has colored the comments and translations of today's editions of the Scriptures.
It would be accurate to edit Isaiah as follows: "the nations shall see . . . your righteousness and justice" (not a righteousness and justice proceeding from your fleshly efforts but from the Divine Life of Christ who is transforming you).
One may say, "But that is what the editor meant."
Perhaps the editor did mean this in his or her effort to show we cannot save ourselves. But by saying "His (righteousness and justice) ascribed to you " the impression is left that no actual righteousness or justice dwells in Jerusalem, only that which is ascribed by the Lord because of the righteousness of Christ.
To be continued.