b. Chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew opens with what has been most frequently called “the sermon on the Mount”. This consists of a series of statements of Jesus which display his particular value system. This value system offers a perspective that is somewhat at odds with our normal perspective. You see, if Jesus was about to send out his disciples in the world, they had to know what it was he wanted to send them for and what it was he wanted them to teach. Jesus was aware of the values already held by the average person those held by his disciples. Been following the flow of information in the Gospel of Matthew, what we see is the following; the birth of Jesus, the baptism and public announcement of him as “the Lamb of God”, the beginning of the public ministry in Galilee which was a ministry of healing that brought him great fame, and here we see a specimen of Jesus is preaching. Had he not established some level of fame and following through the healing ministry the crowds to which he was speaking would have likely been fairly sparse. In the last episode we got through the first two beatitudes as well as an introduction to the sermon on the Mount. We will get through the next two beatitudes this time. I realize that this seems like an inordinate amount of time to spend on just two verses but as I hope you saw listen to the episode before this one, the statements of Jesus warrant a thorough explanation and unpacking.
c. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
i. What does the word meek mean?
1. Meekness would be the opposite of boldness. Especially the opposite of boldness in your own self-interest.
2. Boldness on behalf of others for their benefit is an entirely different matter.
a. Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
3. The person who is meek is the person who does not insist on things being arranged for their self-benefit.
4. The world teaches us that we are to use our energy and our powers of persuasion for the purpose of advancing our own interests.
5. Meekness typically means deferring to the interests of others. Setting aside our own interests and putting the interests of others before our own.
6. My friend Phil has said to me that Jesus was a “man for others”. I think this is a fundamentally correct description of Jesus.
7. As soon as we mention deferring to the interest of others someone will suggest that this will make you a “doormat”. That others will “walk all over you”. The term “doormat is often raised in discussions about the commands for women to submit to their husbands. What is often unrealized is that husbands are commanded also to submit to their wives. We as believers are commanded to “submit one to another” in Ephesians 5:21
8. We are told by the world that we must stand up for ourselves, especially in the face of injustice. But let me share with you a couple of relevant verses.
a. 1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
b. 1 Peter 3:14-15 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
9. Do these verses sound very much like “looking out for number one”? To me they do not.
10. The world would tell us that if we don’t look out for ourselves, no one else will.
a. Psalm 76:9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.
b. Isaiah 11:4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
11. God will save the meek of the earth. When it says he will “decide with equity” it means that there will be justice. If you suffer injustice because of your lack of boldness on your own behalf, you have God as your defender and ultimately the one who will bring about justice on your behalf.
ii. Meekness is not weakness.
1. Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
2. Moses is the same guy who killed an Egyptian because the Egyptian was mistreating a Hebrew. Moses, the same guy who stood up to Pharaoh and led Israel out of captivity was meek?
3. The important differentiation here is that Moses was doing his bold acts on behalf of others. He was not acting in his own defense or defending his own rights. He was meek.
4. We see two examples of David having opportunity to kill Saul in both cases we see David withdrawing to allow the Lord to punish Saul.
5. David was anything but weak or shy. He had killed Goliath and led armies into battle and was a fierce warrior. David was not a weak man.
6. We have the example of Jesus who suffered tremendous injustice at the hands of the Jews and yet did not fight back. Certainly, Jesus was not weak.
7. Finally, we have the example of Paul who was unjustly imprisoned and yet was praising God and not fighting the authorities.
a. Phil 1:12-14 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
8. We know from Paul’s prior life as a Pharisee when he was persecuting the church that he was definitely not a weak man.
9. In conclusion, to be meek and to defer to others and to suffer injustice waiting on God to defend you is not weakness. Meekness if anything is the strength to subordinate your own interests and ability to not insist on your rights.
iii. What does it mean to inherit the earth?
1. We know that Jesus will inherit the earth.
a. Psalm 2:8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
b. Hebrews 1:2 But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.
c. Revelation 21:7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
2. We are heirs with Jesus.
a. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
b. Galatians 3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
c. Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, you are also an heir through God.
d. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
i. Hunger and thirst are something we are all familiar with.
ii. When speaking of our physical needs, this is hunger for food or for hydration of some kind. It is a craving.
iii. But we can have hunger for things that are not food, cravings for other types of things.
iv. Some people have a craving for friendship or companionship.
v. Many married people crave a relational intimacy that seems to elude them.
vi. As we know there are cravings for sex.
vii. There are cravings for adrenaline, the so-called “adrenaline junkies”. This often manifests itself in risk-taking. Things like skydiving or bungee jumping or gambling can be the product of someone who is an adrenaline junkie.
viii. Some people crave success or fame or recognition.
ix. People who abuse substances typically crave alcohol or their drug of choice.
x. Human beings are built to seek some kind of goal. Even for those who we would say are lazy or unmotivated, their goal is to be relaxed, uninvolved, unconcerned.
xi. So what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness?
1. Matthew 6:43 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
2. Jesus is telling us that our first craving should be for relationship with God and for His righteousness. Our appetite should be for righteousness.
3. Righteousness can be considered the opposite of sinfulness.
4. Sinfulness is the seeking of our own interests over those of God. It is the result of the “it’s my life” attitude.
5. A craving for righteousness would not only to be righteous ourselves, but to see righteousness around us.
a. 2 Peter 2:7-8 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)
6. We live in a society that is chock-full of the filthy conduct of the wicked. There is quite literally lawlessness nearly everywhere.
7. Lawlessness against the laws of man and certainly lawlessness against the laws of God.
8. Dating and Sex
a. Once upon a time it was scandalous for men and a woman were found to be together without the accompaniment of others. I know this will sound old-fashioned but used to be that most often grow wouldn’t kiss on the first date and if she did she is considered to be of lower moral character. Today in a culture driven by Hollywood it’s almost considered expected that people sleep together on the first date or the second date and that if they don’t, it’s a sign that there is something wrong. Much to our shame this is even true for people in the church. We find a great many pastors, elders, and parents both unsurprised and un-scandalized by this behavior. This is by no means limited to young people. It’s true of the middle-aged and even many older people my age and older (I’m 59, almost 60).
b. Dating or what used to be called courtship used to be for purposes of finding a spouse. I suppose that in some cases that is still the purpose. However, for many, dating appears to be an almost purely recreational pursuit. It is for entertainment, enjoyment and for sex. There are many people, even in the church who are dating someone and having sex with them with no intention whatsoever of marrying that person.
i. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
c. Many Christians and Christian parents seem unconcerned about dating people who are not Christians. Here’s what the Bible says about that:
i. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
d. Some claim that dating an unbeliever is a form of evangelism. This is probably not impossible, but it certainly won’t come about by dating them in the way that the world dates or living in the way that the world lives. Possibly by showing a chaste and high moral character a person could be won to Christ. The problem comes when we begin to discuss the concept of being “yoked”. The point at which people become yoked together is the point at which they become in any way dependent on each other. Two animals were yoked together for purposes of creating even more force and strength in the direction of travel. In order for this to work they must be pulling in the same direction. Inevitably if they are not of the same strength they will go in the direction of the stronger one. If they insist on pulling in different directions they will make no progress, or very little progress.
e. In our modern culture we having media driven pull toward sexual immorality. When you combine this with the natural hormonally driven sex drive the pull of the yoke is very strong on the side of immorality. The command of Paul is not to be yoked with anyone who is not pulling in the direction of Jesus. This should be the first filter for any Christian looking for a mate.
f. God warns the people of Israel not to intermarry with those outside of Israel and not to learn the ways of those outside of Israel and we see the result of disobedience to this in the story of Solomon.
i. Jeremiah 10:2 Thus says the Lord: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;
ii. Leviticus 18:3 According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.
iii. 1 Kings 11:1-2 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— 2 from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love.
iv. The story ends in Solomon building temples and ultimately Israel being led astray into the cult of Moloch which practiced child sacrifice.
v. I don’t think it’s coincidental that the new high sacrament of the ungodly in the world is abortion. Abortion is the natural consequence of the abandonment of God.
g. If one is hungering and thirsting for righteousness all these immoral practices are scandalizing to you and are a constant offense. If we take these behaviors in stride or worse yet participate in them our appetites are not for righteousness.
h. If you can watch a movie or television show or read a novel that features casual sex framed as though it is positive perhaps your hunger and thirst for righteousness is too low.
a. We’ve also become desensitized to violence because of the Hollywood culture. Well, God hates violence.
b. Violence is one of the reasons that God destroyed mankind through Noah’s flood.
i. Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
c. Additionally, we are told in Psalm and Proverbs that God hates violence.
i. Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous,But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
ii. Proverbs 13:2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.
iii. Proverbs 6:16-17 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look,
A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,
d. Later in chapter 5 we see the famous verse of Jesus talking about turning the other cheek. The believer is not to behave violently. There is an important distinction here that goes along with what I was just discussing under meekness. This is about an unrighteous violence that victimizes. Defending others is not an unrighteous violence. Remember that Jesus defended the sanctity of the temple by overturning the tables of the money changers.
i. John 2:14-15 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
ii. Notice here that Jesus found the condition of the temple and then he made a weapon. Some people get the idea that Jesus showed up, saw what was happening and lost his temper. Jesus never lost his temper. With intention he came armed into the temple, knowing what was going on, and used his weapon. The weapon was not used against the innocent but against the guilty.
e. 1 Timothy 3 says of elders that they are to be “not violent, but gentle”.
f. If we are desensitized to violence in such a way that we can watch a movie where innocent people are killed without it bothering our conscience our appetite for righteousness is too low.
10. If you’re not hungering and thirsting for righteousness and taking offense at the immorality, corruption, and violence all around you, red warning lights should be flashing.
11. Remember that not hungering for righteousness doesn’t mean you will hunger for nothing. There are many good things to hunger for: a better marriage, being a better team member where you work, being more disciplined with your appetites for food, etc. If you find yourself hungering for the unrighteous ask God to reorient your heart.
12. And finally, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be filled. When Jesus returns and we live in the New Jerusalem with him it will be a place where there is only righteousness and that hunger will be permanently satisfied.