The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: R

Previous Index Next

"Righteousness and peace kiss each other"

"Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven" (Psa 85:9-11).
"Righteousness and peace kiss each other!" Like two old friends who finally meet, after too long a separation -- embracing and kissing one another, so thankful for each other's life and health and fellowship and company.

What does it mean that, in God's own time, and under His supervision, and to His glory, "righteousness" and "peace" finally "kiss" each other?

It will be such a blessing, such a wonderful occurrence, because of this sad fact... that God's "righteousness" (His holiness, his awesome and perfect character) and God's "peace" (His union, or unity -- His loving family communion with sinful man) are so far apart, and so unattainable to us.

And why is that? Because, usually, and in practical outworking, and due to our sins, we have been shut out from both the "righteousness" and the "peace".

But even more so, the Almighty -- who is perfectly righteous -- cannot even "look upon" sin and sinners... much less have true and lasting "fellowship" or "peace" with them! Even for the Father, "righteousness" and "peace" had to be kept at arm's length -- for He could not treat as "righteous" those who are unrighteous!

Something, or someone, was needed to bridge the gap between the "righteousness" of God and the "peace" of God.

And what, or who, might that be?!


So this was the age-old question: how could a pure God, who could not even look upon sin, save a world of sinners?

But in God's work of salvation through His Son, two disparate (one might almost say, two mutually exclusive elements) are at work together. God's "righteousness" is declared and vindicated in the sacrifice of His Son (Rom 3:21-31), and on that basis -- the recognition of His righteousness, or holiness -- God is pleased also to show His "peace", or mercy, in the forgiveness of sins.

Thus it is a wonderful miracle that, in and through Jesus, the truth of God and the mercy and grace of God are met together in one. This mercy (grace) and truth have been manifested in the Word made flesh (Joh 1:14-18). These divine attributes parted company at the fall of the first Adam, when God's holiness decreed an exile from the "garden" of His presence. But now they have been joined together again with the coming of the last Adam! The irreproachable righteousness of God may save sinners, and bring them "peace" (joy, fellowship, and reconciliation with Himself), without any diminishing of His absolutely righteous character, because of the mediatorship of His Son: "Father, forgive them... for MY sake!"

RIGHTEOUSNESS is perfection of character, or sinlessness.

And PEACE is "shalom" -- joy, fellowship, and reconciliation with God: ie "good will toward men" (Luk 2:14)! Cp Rom 5:1; Act 10:36; Mat 5:9; Eph 2:14.

"Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven" (v 11). The figurative and poetic meeting of heaven and earth (in vv 10,11) is an anticipation of the advent of Jesus. In him heaven and earth are met together: Son of God and seed of the woman! Like the hymn: "Thy grace and truth became... Flesh for a saving name." The righteousness of God looked down from heaven, planted the "seed" that germinated in the "earth", ie, the soil of human nature, and from that "earth", that soil, there sprang up a Righteous Branch, the Word made flesh, the "faithful and true witness", the Amen of God, the priest and mediator of the Heavenly Father's everlasting covenant with man!

Only through that man, says Paul to the Romans, can God offer "peace" (reconciliation, justification) to sinful man, whilst not letting go (as He surely cannot!) of His own righteousness and holiness.


One of the subtle beauties of these verses is that word "kiss". God's offer of salvation to man may be expressed in terms of a legal contract. It may even be worked out and explained in a fairly logical manner, and we are grateful that it can be so explained. Many people need such explanations in order to accept the gospel.

But, really, the gospel of salvation as presented in the Bible bears much more resemblance to a glance of love, a tender kiss, a gentle caress... the love of a Father for a small and helpless child, the love of a husband for a devoted wife... and the love of a man laying down his life for his friends.

So... is God's plan of salvation a legal contract, or an ongoing act of love? I think it must be both -- but surely much more of the latter.

But especially, in these verses, it is a way by which heaven and earth may be brought together. And a way by which the vilest of sinners (you and I) may have the veil lifted from our eyes, put out our hands, and touch the glorious face of the pure and righteous and eternal One... who has become -- wonder of wonders! -- our "Father".

Previous Index Next