Crown of Righteousness

Last Day of Unleavened Bread 2020

(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 4/15/2020

The Feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with our being Righteous as God is Righteous. The eating of unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes putting on righteousness and obedience to God. The Feast of Unleavened Bread shows us that simply accepting Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for our sins is not enough.

We must endeavor to cease sinning completely. After repenting of our sins and being forgiven by God, we must strive to come out of sin completely, just as Israel came out of Egypt, a type of sin on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.

On this Last Day of Unleavened Bread — the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea – and came completely out of Egypt. We have kept the Days of Unleavened Bread for Seven Days – today being the Last – Seven being the number of perfection – indicating to us that we are to “Come Completely out of Sin.”

A most important point to notice when studying the Days of Unleavened Bread – is this: God wants us to understand that our own righteousness is insufficient. God’s way must prevail over our way. There is a principle here that we need to understand. God says:

Ezekiel 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; If he trusts to his own righteousness, and commits iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he has committed, he shall die for it.

Sin always brings death. Let’s understand the necessity of God fighting our battles:

God fights our battles for us.

That is a hard lesson to learn, because as human beings we tend to want to fight our own battles. I want you to notice that it is God who gives the victory:

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever.

Exodus 14:14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

When Israel was headed for the Promised Land, Jesus Christ was over them, in front of them, in back of them – accompanying them.

Exodus 14:19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

Exodus 14:20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

The Israelites were led by Jesus Christ. There is a difference for the Church brethren today – God is in us! That is better! He is leading us in our journey to our “Promised Land” – the Kingdom of God.

Now is the time for us to prepare – and go on to perfection. God fights our battles for us. God gives the victory.

Exodus 14:24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

Exodus 14:25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.

Even the Egyptians learned the lesson that for the LORD fights for Israel. Brethren, it is the same for us today – do we believe that God fights for us?

Exodus 14:29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Exodus 14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

Exodus 14:31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. [it was a shallow and short-lived faith]

God wants us to learn the lesson of depending entirely upon Him – not ourselves. There was war looming in the days of the Judges – between the Midianites and Israel. The Midianites were the vastly superior fighting force. Israel needed God’s intervention and deliverance.

But how could God come to Israel’s rescue without them getting the “Big Head” – becoming proud and boastful? That is a natural proclivity of man – to take the credit as though he accomplished the victory by his own strength.

Judges 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt [boast] themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand has saved me.

We have the same problem in God’s Church today! Today that concept of saving ourselves manifests itself in an attitude of “I’m doing it right” – and “that will get me into the Kingdom of God.”

God does not want us to say “Mine own hand has saved me.” We must not forget that God gives every victory – and thus He alone is to receive the recognition and credit. God wants us to learn that we cannot save ourselves – we cannot.

Judges 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the 300 – three hundred men that lapped [up the water] will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

Let’s look at a few more examples of God’s intervention. Sennacherib king of Assyria had come to destroy Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:10): 

Isaiah 37:14  And [King] Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 

Isaiah 37:15  And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, 

Isaiah 37:16  O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwells between the cherubim[s], thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. [All Powerful]

Isaiah 37:17  Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. 

Isaiah 37:18  Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 

Isaiah 37:19  And have cast their [false] gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 

Isaiah 37:20  Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only. 

Drop down for God’s Answer:

Isaiah 37:33  Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast an embankment against it. 

Can I help you out – which way did you come in?”

Isaiah 37:34  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 

Isaiah 37:35  For I [says the Lord] will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 

Isaiah 37:36  Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians…185,000 and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.  

All of Sennacherib’s soldiers woke up dead!

What or who is able to separate us from the love of God? We are talking about how it is God who fights our battles for us.

Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, [Corona virus, COVID-19] or sword? 

Romans 8:36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [we are totally unable to save ourselves]

Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. 

Romans 8:38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 

Romans 8:39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Zechariah 4:6 … This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

Now, we are going to make the leap to the New Testament concept of Unleavened Bread and Righteousness. The Bible’s standard of righteousness is God’s own character and perfection, and it is by His law that He measures man’s righteousness. The Bible describes the righteous person as being just or right, and looking to God and trusting in Him.

How do we carry over past the Old Testament – where do we find in the New Testament these concepts of coming out of sin, and God will fight our battles for us? What is Righteousness?

Romans 4:13  For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

James 2:23  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Abraham’s belief entailed changing his life around and following God…

Paul was writing to younger Timothy – because times were very disturbing and depressing for Timothy. Paul life was about to end. Things were not as Timothy expected them to be… Just like Israel did not expect to detour through the wilderness for 40 years. But God was working things out – different from their expectations

God leads – we follow… Like our course in God’s Church… it sure was not what we expected – was it?

2Timothy 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 

2Timothy 1:2  To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 

2Timothy 1:9  Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Preach the Word Paul says to Timothy

2Timothy 4:1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 

2Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 

2Timothy 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 

2Timothy 4:4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 

2Timothy 4:5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 

2Timothy 4:6  For I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. [Paul’s days were numbered for martyrdom]

2Timothy 4:7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 

So, at the very end of his life, Paul made a startling statement to Timothy. Paul declared that God had reserved a Crown of Righteousness for him. And, not only for himself, but for us also. He said:

2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

Brethren, there is a Crown of Righteousness awaiting us also! But we must be righteous.

Isaiah 64:6  We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 

The only way – we can have a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is to have God’s own righteousness imputed to us.

Romans 4:2  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 

Romans 4:3  For what says the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness

Romans 4:20  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 

Romans 4:21  And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. 

Romans 4:22  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness

Romans 4:23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 

Romans 4:24  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him [God the Father] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 

Romans 4:25 [Jesus Christ]  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. = That we might be made Righteous.

There is a Crown of Righteousness awaiting us also! So we see that Jesus brought a much higher standard of righteousness than keeping the letter of the law of the Ten Commandments. Let’s look at a few of Christ’s examples of Godly righteousness.

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Jesus is saying that we are not to fight back on their level – we are to ask God to fight our battles.

We ask God to deliver us – to give us the victory – to be our rear-guard.

Do not stoop to their level – don’t fight them on their own turf.

Matthew 5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two.

Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Who can live up to standards of righteousness that high? And that is the point – without the Righteousness of God in us – we come far short of true Christianity.

Our nation has turned its collective back on God. With the COVID-19 virus raging, there are a lot of people thinking more about God. But the truth is—this nation has a lot of repenting to do.

I know that I speak for all the People of God when I say, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for modern Israel is, that they might be saved.”

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Romans 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

How can a person be right with God? Are we Right with God?

Righteousness Definition: [n] adhering to moral principles – The state of being right with God; justification; the work of Christ, which is the ground of justification.

There are two kinds of Christian righteousness: the righteousness of God, which we have by imputation; which is separate from our righteousness – the other is our righteousness, which consists of our works, and faith, hope, and Godly love, and other Christian virtues.

In the Old Testament Jesus said:

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is no one righteous, no, not one:

We cannot earn salvation – we can only pay for our sin by our death. Romans 3 explains that we cannot work our way into righteousness.

If we kill someone we cannot bring them back. You will say, “I haven’t killed anyone!”

Have you lied, have you fibbed? We cannot tell the truth enough times to put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

We cannot be honest enough times to put on the righteousness of Jesus.

We cannot honor our parents enough times to put on the righteousness of Jesus…

The point is: Only those with the Righteousness of Jesus Christ will inherit the Kingdom of God. Every man comes short!

Godly Righteousness must be imputed to us by God – we cannot keep the Commandments with all our might and earn righteousness.

Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness [brings to mind] commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous [to inflict His wrath] who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

Our righteousness is as unrighteousness compared to God’s righteousness.

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

We all come short of the Kingdom of God.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law [keeping the expanded 10 Commandments to the best of our ability] there shall no flesh be justified [made righteous] in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Yes, we know what we’ve done wrong. That does not mean that we are not to do good works – by all means we are to keep all the Law of God and do good works. With God’s Spirit, we are to do and keep all the Law of God.

We are to understand that without God’s righteousness in us – we fall far short of doing it right – that is righteously.

Titus 3:1 We are to be ready to every good work, [here are some examples]

Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared,

Not by our works of righteousness, but in spite of ourselves, God has reached down to save us in His mercy!

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; [that is God’s righteousness in us.]

We cannot see things as God sees them – so we continuously miss the mark in the righteousness which we have done. We do strive to apply every jot and tittle of God’s Law in our every action.

When we willingly walk in good works – and put them into practice and live them and adhere to them – We are letting God deleaven, un-leaven, us – get the sin and sinful nature out of us.

Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

We cannot boast – saying by Mine own hand – I did it! Because we did not!

Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [made righteous] by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Of course we keep God’s commandments – but with the righteousness of God imputed to us – we keep them so much better.

Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one [Adam]; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, (Jesus Christ).

Brethren, make a personal Bible Study on the word “righteousness” in the book of Psalms – there is a treasure trove of righteousness – far to too many to cover today.

Notice here in Psalm 143 how David – does not fight the battle his own way – but he looks to God to rescue and preserve him, and fight his battles for him.

Psalm 143:11 Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

There is an old 1937 movie that I thoroughly enjoyed – “The Prince and the Pauper.” It was based upon the novel by the same name – written by Mark Twain. It starred Errol Flynn, and two boys. The two boys were practically indistinguishable.

One boy grew up in poverty, desiring something better, the other boy grew up in royal luxury. They exchanged their clothes and roles in life.

The story is all about their mistaken and confused identities. One boy’s crown, royal cape and identity were swapped for the other boy’s ragged outfit, anonymity and namelessness obscurity.

I was reminded of that old movie as I was writing this sermon. Jesus, Himself, set aside His royal divine nature and made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7)

Philippians 2:8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

And we, the Pauper, assume the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In the first case, “The Prince and the Pauper” was a work of fiction. In the second case, we find the reality of a double-substitutionary act of Almighty God.

Jesus was sacrificed in our stead, that we might in turn have His righteousness imputed to us. That is the reality! When Jesus took upon Himself all of our sins, He became Sin – the total sin offering.

God the Father had to turn His face and abandon Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus cried with a loud voice – describing the rejection, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me

Jesus was not Himself—He was us—He was sin! Jesus, who never sinned, paid the death penalty in our place, substituting His death for ours. His death substitutes for our well-deserved death, which we earned through sin.

In the same way that God made Jesus to be Sin, He has made us to be Righteous.

Romans 4:22  And therefore it was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness

Romans 4:23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 

Rom 4:24  But for us also, to whom [righteousness] shall be imputed, if we believe on Him [God the Father] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 

God the Father took the righteousness of Jesus and threw it over us, and He took the sin from off our back and placed it on Jesus Christ:

Romans 4:25  Who was delivered [up unto death on the cross] for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. 

God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to us. God the Father made Jesus Christ, who never sinned, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Why did Jesus swap roles with us? Because, it is not possible for man to attain perfect righteousness on his own. We have no ability to achieve righteousness in and of ourselves. Notice the changeover and substitution performed by God the Father:

2Corinthians 5:21 He [God the Father] has made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who [Jesus] knew no sin; that we might be made [into] the righteousness of God in Him.

Our filthy, sinful garments were thrown over Jesus’ body on the cross.

Hebrews 10:5 … You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.

In the same way that God made Jesus to be “sin,” He has made us to be Righteous. We are reconciled to God the Father in the place of Jesus Christ – in Christ’s stead (2Corinthians 5:20). 

God in turn, substitutes the righteousness of Jesus to us!

We are reconciled to God the Father. When He looks at us He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ—not our own filthy garments.

How is that possible? In the same way that Egypt was delivered completely out of Egypt, crossing through the Red Sea – we have come completely out of sin in God’s eyes!

Once out of sin – we do not dare swap back to a sinful life! We are warned by Israel’s sad example!

1Corinthians 10:5  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 

God the Father made Jesus Christ, who never sinned, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

These days of Unleavened Bread picture – with exactness – that it is Jesus, today, who is leading us out of our spiritual Egypt.

The first generation of Israelites failed to enter the Promised Land because they did not truly believe that God meant what He said, and they did not properly set their sights on their goal.

A deep-rooted connection to Christ includes trusting in all of His words, and greatly appreciating His forgiveness.

It also includes looking to God in faith, realizing our total dependence on our Creator while demonstrating the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit, and expressing true Christianity through good works.

When we are rooted in Christ, it means that we know His ways, and love His ways more than our own way of doing things.

That is the way of the world, doing its own thing, that we have actively been trying to eradicate from ourselves this past week – “putting the leaven out.”

Jesus Christ as our Savior – is the only way to life eternal. That faith and belief that Jesus Christ means what He says is what this Holy Day is all about.

End: Crown of Righteousness