According to Merriam-Webster, an oxymoron is: a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings or something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements. Such is any idea of our self-righteousness.
Deuteronomy 9 & 10
Deuteronomy 9 & 10:
Self-righteousness & other oxymorons
God, through Moses, emphasized that He would bless the Israelites not because of their righteousness—that is because they deserved it—but because of God and His mercy.
C.J. Mahaney says in his book, The Cross Centered Life, “Everything in the Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ and enriches our understanding of the cross (see Luke 24.27). The drama of redemption begins in the Garden in Genesis 3 and continues to unfold throughout the Old Testament until it reaches its climax at the cross. All along the way the Divine Author prepares us for Calvary. The symbolism of the sacrificial system, the strictness of the law, the repeated failures of man, the steadfast faithfulness of God—all this and more deepens our amazement at the cross.”
Thankfully, like the Israelites, our position with God does not depend upon our own righteousness. As Paul Tripp says, in his book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, we cannot boast in our righteousness because we don’t have any (Phil. 3.9)! We are all sinners saved by grace alone (Eph. 2.8-9) and have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3.21-23). His righteousness was imputed to us on the basis of His sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf. That’s reason to rejoice!
But like the Israelites we need to remind ourselves of that fact, because in our pride and self-sufficiency, we see ourselves as good (Prov. 20.6) and are often full of self-righteousness, perhaps the greatest oxymoron ever.
The arms of the wicked
Verses 16-17, “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous.”
The “arms of the wicked” represents their power and strength. If our power and strength come from riches or military might or youth or political influence or anything besides God, they’re subject to fail at any moment. But when we rely on God and His strength, we have an unlimited source!
Fruitfulness or frivolity
“He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” “Frivolity” is all the worthless things that can eat away our time and cause us to be unproductive.
Ephesians 5.15-17 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Let’s spend our days on things that have eternal value. Amen?
Our need for a Savior
Just as the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ, so did Zacharias’ prophesy. And so did the ministry of his son, John. His preaching and baptism of repentance was to prepare the hearts of the people to receive their Messiah. As they saw their sin, they would more readily “see” their need for a Savior.
May we “see” ourselves as we really are, and stay dependent on Him!