Friday, October 29, 2004

Blessed Are the Poor

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3).

Blessed is makarios, which means "happy." Poor is ptochos, meaning (according to Strong's concordance): "reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms; destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour."

So the Kingdom belongs to people who are, spiritually speaking, hungry, begging for nourishment from God. There are tons of analogies in the Word that present the Lord as food for the believer. The manna given in the Tanakh (Exodus 16, Numbers 11) to the Jews in the desert was a picture of God spiritually sustaining His children. He provides all we need.

Jesus said He is the bread from heaven:

John 6:57-58
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

Jesus gives the overcomers--those who have followed Him until the end--the hidden manna at the end of the age:

Revelation 2:17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Ezekiel and Revelation have similar passages where the Word of God is ingested by a prophet about to speak messages from the Lord:

Ezekiel 3:1-4
And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.

Revelation 10:8-11
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: "Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings."

What does this have to do with spiritual poverty? Spiritual poverty is brokenness, hunger, thirst. It's realizing you are in a humble and beggarly position before the Lord: Lord, feed me! Sustain me! We cannot survive without Him.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'

We can do nothing without God, just as the body cannot live without food and water.

John 15:5-6
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

I long to be spiritually poor, in the way Jesus is talking about. I want to know how much I need Him--in the same way that I know I need food every day, in the same way that I know I am thirsty and need a drink.

Lord, make me aware of my need for You. Make me understand my poverty so I don't think I am self-sufficient. You are my portion.

Keep me clothed in humility, so I will not parade around ignorantly naked. I thank you that you are FOR and not AGAINST those who call on Your name!

Revelation 3:16-18
So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

1 comment:

Shane said...

Such a great post. I hear so many people think that the beattitudes are about hope for destitute people (and in a way that is true). It is about our attitudes as believers in Messiah. About being a servant. Putting others before ourselves and putting Messiah before all. It's about humbling ourselves; that we may be exalted.

Lu 14:11 "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Ac 5:41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

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