THE BEATITUDES: THE MEEK AND HUNGRY

Mt. 5:5    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit of God in the believer, which follows as we have humbled ourselves to admit we are helpless in our own selves, and are sorrowful over our own sinfulness in the light of God’s holiness.  Rather than driving us into the desert or a monastery to supposedly escape the sin and evil in the world, the blessedness of the meek is that they will inherit the earth (Ps. 37: 9-11,22,29, 34).  This is a promise of future hope, which has a present application:  the earth belongs to the LORD and to the sons of Adam who have put their faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ.  We can enjoy the earth now because Jesus has redeemed it for God.  We take care of it –rather than destroy it– because we love it for His sake.  The creation itself looks forward to its Jubilee freedom and Sabbath rest when the Lord Jesus returns to bring God’s Kingdom to the world.

Meekness is not passivity, nor is it angerlessness.  It includes patience and long-suffering — waiting on God to fulfill His purposes in His way and time — but it also includes anger for the right reasons at the right time and not at the wrong time.  We see this, of course, in the life of the Lord Jesus.

The meek believer actively resists sin and unrighteousness — engages in spiritual warfare — always mindful and thankful that we are forgiven sinners ourselves.  He fears the LORD, and is completely submitted to God’s will for Yeshua’s sake, rejoicing in it despite the temptations, sins, and difficulties of life.  How and why?  Because of the joy of having a share in the blessedness of God’s inheritance!  Meekness is the opposite of pride; the Spirit of God dwelling in the believer is One of humility, and wars against the pride of our flesh.  The meek know what they were without the Spirit of Holiness dwelling in them; the proud declare their own righteousness and feel no further need to be transformed  and conformed to the image of the Son of God, who sacrificed His own will to the will of His Father in Heaven.  Although He was equal with God, He made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a mortal man, becoming a servant of servants.  He stood up not for His own glory, but for the glory of God, His holy and righteous Father, and for the dignity of man created in the image of God.  Jesus was a Man of peace, who was friends with sinners to show forth the love of the Father, and with much patience brought grace and truth together with meekness and lowliness of heart.  The earth belongs to Him!

Mt. 5:6   Blessed are they which hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Lk. 6:21a    Blessed are ye that hunger, for ye shall be filled.

Every living thing needs its food and drink suited to it in order to survive at least, and to live healthy lives at best.  We are motivated to do what is necessary — working honestly, stealing, even killing — to give us the food and water we require and even enjoy.  How pleasant to eat good food with friends and family!  We even look forward to the next meal!  This is natural for all persons.  Here Jesus promises to those who are hungry that He will fill them.  He is the Bread of Life.  He knows hunger and thirst and suffering from His own life experiences.  Jesus shows His disciples the compassion of God in that He fed the multitude — both believers and unbelievers — when they were tired and hungry.  Sin has brought a curse upon the ground; Jesus will bring much fruitfulness when His Kingdom comes.  Even now He fills those who hunger — especially those who hunger and thirst for Him and the righteousness of God.

This is a proof that we are a new creation in Messiah:  we have new appetites to satisfy; we have new motivations — not those which are only natural for every creature, but also and especially for the things which only God requires and can provide:  living for Him and His pleasure because of the crucifixion of Jesus for the judgment of sin and sinners.  We have been born again to a living hope, having been redeemed and justified by faith that our sins are condemned and forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus.

Our deepest longings and motivations — those for which we hunger and thirst to satisfy — Jesus promises to fill.  And like our natural appetite, after being satisfied, we again will hunger and thirst.  So it is for those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness which only Jesus can give:  to continually seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness in our lives. 

We will not remain with either an empty stomach or an empty spirit; we will not remain in self-condemnation over our own sinfulness;  we will not be self-satisfied or justify ourselves that we have become meek and have an eternal inheritance with Christ.  No, but as we continue to grow in the knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, we will ever hunger and thirst for the righteousness which allows us to live the life of God through us for Jesus’ sake.  We want not only to put off the old man, but to put on the new man created according to God in righteousness and true holiness.

Do you enjoy God’s food, God’s water?  Do you hunger and thirst to know and to do God’s will?  This was Jesus’ food; man does not live by bread alone, but every thing that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Do you enjoy the fellowship of God’s other children within the Body of Messiah?  Do you enjoy times of worship and prayer?  Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for the living God, who alone fills the soul with good things.

THE BEATITUDES: THE POOR AND SORROWFUL

Blessedness is the spiritual state of the person who fears the God and does His will, and who puts his trust in Jesus.  It is the well-being and joy of those who share in the salvation of God and so are citizens of His Kingdom.  The source of blessedness is in Messiah from God.

The spiritual desire for these attributes of blessedness which Jesus gives is both the condition of divine blessedness and also the result of blessedness — God’s indwelling of the human heart.  “Both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:11)  There is unity, oneness as we are joined to the Lord in identity and purpose (1Cor. 6:17).

Mt. 5:3    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs (of them) is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Lk. 6:20  Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.

Both the poor in spirit and the poor in the natural can be blessed.

     –Jesus, and the apostles after Him, accept the fact that there are rich and poor people in the world.  Jesus satisfies the soul, Jesus feeds the hungry.  Both poverty and riches are a relative thing in this world, even within one’s own culture (e.g., Bedouins here; Israel compared to former home; slaves).

    –In God’s view, the poor need not be miserable, even if the world views them as such.  If the physically poor — whether economically or in health or in intelligence — commit themselves to God and trust in His goodness and sovereign control over their lives, they can be blessed in their own spirits, and bring glory to the God of all mercies.

  –It is evident that wealth is not a key to happiness, however much it is a blessing to have the food, clothing, housing and other opportunities to enjoy some of the good things that are by God’s grace in this life. (Prov. 13:7)  (consider Lot and Abraham)

  –HUMILITY OF SPIRIT brings God’s blessedness:  to be dependent on God and not to develop an independent or self-sufficient attitude.

     —Ps. 34:6-9,18 [7-10,19 Heb.] – the Kingdom of God is present now in the heart of the one who knows the emptiness of his own soul without the LORD (the Lord Jesus Christ)

     —Rev. 2:8-11 – poor yet rich, we have spiritual victory through faith in Jesus the Overcomer

     —Mt. 18:3 – trusting and dependent like little children upon their Father and Mother

How, Why are the poor blessed?  Because of them is the Kingdom of God!  The poor can know now the present reality of the Kingdom of God in your heart, and the certain future hope of living in the blessedness of God’s presence forever.  But whether rich or poor now, it is to the poor in spirit to whom the Kingdom belongs.  It is not something to be earned, but rather a gift to be thankfully and lovingly received from our Father in Heaven through being a disciple of Jesus.

True and spiritual worship begins with this, when we submit all of our self to God — our bodies, our conscience, our thoughts and imagination, our emotions, our will, our hearts, our very life —  believing that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Mt. 5:4       Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Lk. 6:21 b  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

    –The mourning and weeping of which the Lord speaks here is not the grief which naturally follows, for example, the death of a loved one or of a personal injury or disease.  Such sadness is normal for any person.  The Lord Jesus is referring to grief in the heart because of sin, rather than for the consequences of sin.

   –Godly sorrow leads us to Christ and His sacrifice for sin:  the sin of the world and our own.  Our willingness and our sensitivity to suffer or to endure grief in the right way for the right reason brings honor to God.  The suffering of Jesus on the cross brought the thief and the centurion to extol Him; Paul and Silas singing in the jail despite their pain caused the jailer and others to recognize  the blessedness of the true Christian.  

   –In doing the will of God in our life, which essentially is to serve others, we will suffer and mourn and weep over our own shortcomings, weaknesses, failures, sins, as well as over the unthankfulness and hard-heartedness of some we serve.  Parents mourn and weep over their children who refuse proper chastening and discipline.  We grieve over loved ones who seem indifferent to the truth of Jesus.  We feel the grief of our Father in Heaven when He speaks of His own people being stubborn and stiff-necked, refusing to submit to His ways of wisdom and love.

   –The apostle Paul rebuked the leadership of the Corinthian assembly for not dealing with obvious sin within its jurisdiction.  Paul afterwards commended them for receiving his reproof and correction and for acting responsibly in a godly way that showed they felt the sin on their part and their responsibility to the flock for Christ’s sake (2Cor. 7:10-11)

   –Godly sorrow and weeping is also expressed over the sins of others, of the world, of the Church.  Jeremiah (9:1) wept over the slain of the daughter of his people; the psalmist (119:136) weeps because of those who do not keep God’s law, just as believers cry for revival of the Body of Christ which is indifferent  to the Lord Jesus and His cross.  God looks upon those who weep and mourn over the conditions around them which He must righteously judge, placing His mark upon them to pass over them when the judgment comes (Ezek. 9:4; Rev. 7:3).    

    –Godly sorrow leads to a changed heart and spirit, not merely a temporary change of mind, like with Pharaoh or with King Saul.  Godly sorrow leads to repentance like Job, who said that he would sin no more when he discovered by God’s grace his own iniquity (Job 34:32)It is only when we realize the evil that is within ourselves — and mourn over it and look to God for His deliverance — that we will know the blessedness of His comfort:  the Lord is near the broken-hearted and saves those who have a contrite spirit (Ps. 34:18 [19 Heb.].

There will be times and circumstances chosen by God for us where we may find ourselves poor or hungry or weeping for His sake.  But then His precious promises come to encourage, strengthen, and comfort us: He forgives our sins; the Kingdom of Heaven is ours from our Father as an inheritance to His children in Christ; we shall be comforted; we will laugh.  God’s purposes for us now is to become like Him in character while we serve Him until Jesus returns for us.

Let us remember that Jesus is telling His disciples what was in His own essence and work, building their reservoir of faith for times of doubt, trials, testing, suffering.  He calls us to become like Him and to love those who follow Him.  As we do we will prove ourselves to be sons and daughters of God, heirs of His Kingdom with Christ, light and salt in this world for Jesus’ sake, the beloved Son of our Father.  In the presence (and presents!) of His love, we will rejoice exceedingly more than we can imagine or ask.

Ps. 126: 5-6   Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
                       He who continually goes forth weeping bearing seed for sowing, shall certainly come again with rejoicing, carrying his                     sheaves!

THE BEATITUDES (with thanks to Spiro Zodhiates, The Beatitudes)

Mt. 5:1-12; Lk 6:20-26     Blessed . . .
Gen. 17:1      I am El-Shaddai; walk before Me and be blameless

What are we pursuing in life?:  a comfortable life without problems?; or enough money to take care of any problems which we may have?; maybe a quiet life, or perhaps we want to succeed and be the best builder or the best athlete because someone once said to you (or me) that you will never be good at anything. . .  and you want to prove them wrong.  In a word, we want to be happy, and we seek it by pursuing those things which we believe will bring us this sense of happiness.  This pursuit touches our personal, family, and social identity and sense of well-being.

I remember that some years before I was saved, someone said to me, “If you had three wishes, what would they be?”  My answer was only one, “to be happy, but I do not know what it would take to make me happy, so whatever it would be, that is what I wish!”  Later on, when I repented and believed in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, God fulfilled my wish!  In Christ I found my “blessedness”, far better than some worldly happiness.

Happiness, as generally understood, can come and go.  It is dependent upon circumstances.  By making it a goal, people constantly pursue some “thing” or circumstance which will keep them happy.  It requires outside influences, or other people, to be so arranged so that I am personally content.  There is no rest for the soul because it lusts for and covets what it does not have in the hope acquiring personal happiness, even if at the expense of others’ happiness.  Once you have gained your sense of feeling happy, what must you do to keep it?  The pursuit of happiness can simply be loving oneself above others.

On the other hand, “blessedness” depends upon God, and is a permanent joy not affected by life’s circumstances.  It is not a goal or a motive in itself, but rather a result (by-product) of obeying the Lord Jesus Christ with faith.  We do not repent and believe the gospel in order to be blessed, but rather to believe the truth that our sins are forgiven:  to be freed from captivity and futility.  Blessedness comes as a natural consequence of our new birth and salvation.

Happiness is often a selfish goal; blessedness comes when we pursue godliness for Messiah’s sake.  It is in and through Him that we know true blessedness.

As we begin to listen to Jesus teaching us from the mount, we realize that He is teaching firstly those who are His disciples — those who believe in Him and walk with Him.  He had already commanded unbelievers to repent and believe the good news, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  Then He told those who did so to follow Him and share the good news with others that they too may be saved from their sins and be reconciled to God.  When we are born again we become a new creation, and God’s Spirit and nature dwell within the believer.  Nevertheless, the believer must grow and mature to express more fully the life of Messiah in us.  If we became perfect at new birth there would be no reason to teach or preach to believers, yet most of the New Testament teaching and preaching is addressed to believers in the churches.

In this life we will never arrive at God’s full standard of practical holiness and righteousness.  This will only be after the resurrection and Christ’s judgment of our works done as redeemed sinners.  But here in the sermon on the mount, our Savior guides us in how to grow towards the goal God has set before us, and He tells us that there is blessedness – satisfaction – for us, and for others as well through us, as we obey the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.  There is blessedness as these things become true in us — the character of the Lamb, of God’s only-begotten Son, on earth.  Blessed is the person in whose heart God Himself dwells.  It is important that we become conscious of the ideal character of Messiah in us, just as we are to know that we have eternal life now through faith that justifies and saves the believer.

The triune God is Himself blessed.  He is not dependent on outside circumstances, and He is not producing blessedness for Himself by His activities.  He is in Himself blessed, satisfied, joyous; therefore our own blessedness can not be apart from Him.  The Lord Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us sinners to God, our holy and righteous Father in Heaven.  The Christian believer can be blessed in this life as we obey the Lord and partake of His holiness.  The believer is a person who is blessed in this life, not because of what happens to him/her, but sometimes despite what happens.

We who believe still live in a world hostile to God and to His Anointed One.  We who were once friends with the world but enemies of God, are now friends of God but the world is our enemy.  Yeshua gives us His law to live by as citizens of His kingdom.  We are no longer to remain in bondage to Satan and sin, because Messiah the Son of God sets us free.  Within the Body of Christ, Yeshua teaches us the way to be blessed — not only in contrast to the temporal happiness which may be in the world, but also in relationship to others who are our brothers and sisters by faith in God through Him.

As we begin our series to study and learn from the sermon on the mount, it will be helpful to keep in mind several assumptions:  Jesus knows perfectly well what is in man (John 2:24-25); Jesus knows what each of us needs:  rest and healing for our souls (Mt. 11:28-30; 13:15); the law of God’s government is love (Mt. 22:36-40; John 13:15); that those whom God foreknew are being transformed into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30).

The “sermon on the mount” has been rightly called the Torah of Messiah, the law or constitution of the New Covenant during this period between Jesus’ first coming and His return.  Being of the new covenant in Yeshua Himself, this Torah contains things both old and new relative to the former covenant which is passing away, and as Moses himself wrote, we are to listen to and believe what the Messiah says (Deut. 18:15).  At the end of the prophets, the LORD tells Israel through Malachi to remember the Law of Moses as the Day of the LORD nears (Mal. 4:4-5).  The apostles of the Lord Messiah tell us to be faithful to the teachings of Yeshua.  All true Holy Spirit revival will bring those who fear God back to His word, which will preserve us from God’s righteous judgments, which begins in His own household first.  And because the sermon on the mount is the foundational teaching of the whole of the New Testament, our Lord Jesus touches on all aspects of relationships and godly living.  By the grace of God, let us listen and respond to what He is saying to us here and now.