Lessons from the Three Wise Men

In Ezekiel’s day, God’s people, who were in captivity in Babylon, were told, “Son of man, when a land sinneth against me…and I stretch out my hand upon it…though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness…If I cause evil beasts to pass through the land…and it be made desolate…though these three men were in it…they only should be delivered…if I bring a sword upon that land…though these three men were in it…they only should be delivered themselves. Or if I send a pestilence into that land…though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it…they should but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Ezekiel 14.13-20).

The text says that these three delivered their souls “by their righteousness.” Was this referring to their own righteousness (Titus 3.5), or to the obedience of their faith (Romans 1.5; 16.26)? Notice the parallel phrase “they only should be delivered.” How did their deliverance come about; of themselves or of God? We can understand how their righteousness and deliverance came from the example of Abraham. We read of him, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, the he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled with saith, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness…’” (James 3.21-23). On what basis did Abraham have righteousness imputed to him? Was it by his own righteousness or an obedient faith? Did Abraham deliver his own soul or did God deliver him?

The apostle Paul answers this for us: “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” (Romans 4.13). Our deliverance from sin will come in the same manner:” By the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3.22).