“clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24).
The description “righteous” is often used contemptuously – as in “How righteous of you!” or “He is so self-righteous“. We might therefore picture a righteous person as stern, judgemental and joyless. Perhaps people see such a person coming and look the other away.
Isaiah sees something else when he thinks of righteousness. He sees a bride walking down the aisle. The congregation gasp in awe. A child cries out “Look Mommy, a princess!“. The groom is overwhelmed with tears by her beauty. Isaiah hears singing and laughing, he sees feasting and dancing:
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD…
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels (Is 61:10).
Isaiah rejoices because God will cause righteousness to sprout forth like flowers in a watered garden (Is. 61:11). We who follow Christ are given to the world as people of truth and justice. Like rain to a drought-stricken land.