Kingdom of God in the Beatitudes

 

We have been talking about the kingdom of God being here and now, as well as future realised and today I want to start thinking about how we act in this kingdom that we are resident in.

 

To start with I want to look at a piece of the most famous sermon of Jesus’ – the Sermon on the Mount

 

MaTTHEW 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

The version in Luke of the same passage is slightly different:  the poor in spirit that Matthew identifies, are just the poor in Luke – blessed are the poor-  a wider concept

 

This part of the sermon on the mount is often known by the more familiar name of the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are” – the first thing we notice in the Beatitudes is that it focuses on what we are, not on what we do. For what we do comes out of what we are. Our characteristics come out of our character. The kingdom of God is concerned primarily with what we are. The kingdoms of this world are concerned with what we do.[1]

 

The terms “Poor, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker” are character traits from which comes the actions.

           

The beatitudes open and close with the same proposition; the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who know how to receive and know how to give – the intakers and the outgoers, the receptive and the re-givers. The life in the Kingdom becomes as natural as breathing. You breathe in and you breathe out – you breathe in God’s kingdom and you breathe out Gods peace.[2]

 

We all know that we cannot receive God’s blessing without being filled up and when we are filled we need to overflow, in order to keep getting filled up or we go stale.

 

The manna in the desert could not be stored or it went maggoty. It needed to be used. 

 

Water kept in our Earthquake disaster kits needs to be changed regularly or it goes rank.  T

 

he blessings we receive from God need to be given away in order to get fresh blessings every day.

 

“How blest are they who know their need of God; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” This is the keynote of the kingdom. It strikes a dart straight at the heart of self-sufficiency, the ego.[3]  When we recognise our need and that we cannot fix ourselves, is the key to the kingdom.

 

That is the power of AA and NA.  Recognise your need, before you are in a place to receive help.

 

The secret of Kingdom joy is found in the first and last beatitude. To those who know they are poor, they are open to receive it. This shuts the kingdom of God to the self-centred, to the proud, to the self-sufficient, to the smug and self-complacent. It opens the kingdom to the self-surrendered, the meek, and the receptive.[4]

 

The poor in spirit are those who consciously depend on God, not on themselves; they are “[resource] poor” inwardly, having no ability in themselves to please God [5]

 

Rom. 3:10–12. “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.”

 

The recognition, and acceptance, that we are unable to please God by our filthy rags of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) is the entry point for receiving entry to the Kingdom of God.

 

The poor in spirit who recognise their poverty already have the kingdom; it is not a future promise. The poor in spirit are enriched with the fulness of Christ, which is the kingdom in substance; and when He shall say to them from His great white throne, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. (Matthew 25:34) He invites them to the full enjoyment of their already possessed inheritance.[6]

 

The second group to whom the kingdom belongs is the peacemakers – the peacemakers who are positive enough to provoke persecution.

 

The peacemakers show others how to have inward peace with God and how to be instruments of peace in the world. They desire and possess God’s righteousness even though it brings them persecution.[7]

 

In other words, the kingdom belongs to those who are open to it and to the outgoing lovers of others, to the caring, to the intaking and to the outgoing, to the receptive and to the responsive. This fits in with the 2 commandments of loving your neighbour as you love yourself. Loving yourself is the intake and loving your neighbour is the outgo.[8]

 

The first beatitude in the inhale, the last beatitude is the exhale.

             

The Kingdom of God is often expressed as the upside down kingdom. The values that the world desires and exalts are exactly opposite to the values that the Kingdom of God exalts.

 

The qualities of the Kingdom of God contrast sharply with Pharisaic “righteousness.” The Pharisees were not “poor in spirit”; did not “mourn” in recognition of their needs; were proud and harsh, not humble and gentle; they felt they had attained righteousness and therefore did not have a continual appetite or desire for it; they were more concerned with “legalities” of God’s and their own laws than with showing mercy; were pure ceremonially but not inwardly; created a rift, not peace in Judaism; and certainly did not possess true righteousness[9].

 

When we consider the Pharisaic righteousness, we can see parallels of their value system with the righteousness of the kingdom of this world.  The clash is between the values of this world and the kingdom of God. The world says:

 

1.      Blessed are the self-confident because they rule the world.

2.      Blessed are positive-thinkers because they don’t need anybody’s comfort.

3.      Blessed are the cocky and assertive because they get what they want.

4.      Blessed are those who hunger for fame because they get reality TV shows.

5.      Blessed are the vengeful because they get respect.

6.      Blessed are the impure, pleasure-seekers because they see a good time.

7.      Blessed are those who beat their opponents because the victors write the history books.

8.        Blessed are the popular because everybody loves them.[10]

 

Compare that to the Kingdom values:

·         “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

·         “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

·         “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

·         “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

·         “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

·         “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

·         “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

·         10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

 

Jesus’ followers who possess the qualities of the Kingdom of God become heirs of the kingdom on earth, receive spiritual comfort and satisfaction, receive mercy from God and others, will see God, that is, Jesus Christ, who is God “in a body” (1 Tim. 3:16; cf. John 1:18; 14:7–9). His followers were known as God’s sons (Matt. 5:9; cf. Gal. 3:26) for they partook of His righteousness.[11]

 

I like this commentary quote because it highlights that it is not by our doing that we are heirs of the Kingdom but by what God does for us: we become heirs, we receive spiritual comfort and satisfaction and mercy.  We are given the title of sons (Children) of God, we do not earn that right.

 

God changes our value system from which flows our thoughts, behavior and actions.

 

On 2 October 2006 a gunman Charles Carl Roberts took hostages and shot eight out of ten school girls (aged 6–13), killing five, before committing suicide in the an Amish schoolhouse. But the response from the Amish community surprised the world. The Amish folks let it be known within a day that they forgave the crimes. Then they visited the shooter’s widow and shared donations with her, and they showed up at the perpetrator’s burial. They noted that there was nothing remarkable about forgiveness. They just did what Jesus commanded in the Sermon on the Mount. The witness of this Amish community reminds us of the striking possibilities that emerge when we take seriously the Sermon on the Mount[12]

 

How seriously do we live the values of the Kingdom of God? I am not talking about doing more, I am talking about receiving the blessings of the Kingdom of God. 

 

We are in the kingdom of God, how does our demeanour exhibit that?  How do people see that we have received spiritual comfort and satisfaction and mercy?

 



[1] E Stanley Jones The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person 163

[2] Jones 163

[3] Jones 154

[4] Jones 161-162

[5] Barbieri, L. A., Matthew. In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 29.

[7] Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 29)..

[8] Jones 162

[9] The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 29)..

[10] https://adamlickey.com/2012/07/10/worldly-values-flipped-upside-down-the-beatitudes/

[11] The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 29)..

[12] http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/57713.pdf