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Analyzing Christ's Beatitudes

 

Php 2:12 . . So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Working out one's own salvation as per Rome's interpretation of that passage surely has to include the beatitudes: or why would the Lord even bother to teach them?

They're located in a section of the so-called Sermon On The Mount (Matt 5:1-7:29). There's also a so-called Sermon On The Plain too (Luke 6:17-7:49) but it doesn't contain a complete list.

The beatitudes are not something to be admired; no, they are something to be feared because according to Christ's testimony, as an expert witness in all matters pertaining to piety; failure to exemplify the beatitudes will result in disaster.

Matt 7:26-27 . . Everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house; and it collapsed and was completely ruined.

 

Beatitude (01)

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

That's an easy beatitude to analyze because it's taken from the Old Testament.

"But on this one will I look: on him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word." (Isa 66:2)

People poor in spirit as per the first beatitude, don't presume to approach God as His equal nor on their own terms; nor do they take Him for granted; no, they approach Him as a serf approaches a monarch rather than an equal. In other words: they don't complain about the Lord's wishes; instead, they go along with them.

People poor in spirit would never think of standing up to God and asserting their independence; no, that's the attitude of a demon seed: an insolent child; viz: someone who has made themselves their own God.

"A people that provoke me to anger continually to my face . . .which say: Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day." (Isa 65:3-5)

It's almost beyond belief how some people react to God. In my lifetime I've met more than I care to who regard the Lord as a tyrant, a rival, an opponent; and a despotic, thoughtless, sadistic bully. When people like that finally appear before Him in judgment; I seriously doubt they'll be inclined to kneel or bow and talk to Him in soft respectful tones.

No: they will be indignant, assertive, loud, confrontational, insulted, and furious; and they will argue vehemently, pointing out where it is actually He who is the one in the wrong. At that time they will no doubt insist, as they do even now, that the Bible's God is a heartless monster who has no clue about the meanings of peace, love, and understanding. And of course they'll accuse Him of product liability for deliberately creating a species of intelligent creatures with the capability to go bad and do terrible things.

When those kinds of people are brought up out of hades to face justice at the Great White Throne event as per Rev 20:11-15, I suspect they will be shackled in body chains and escorted by angelic corrections officers to prevent them from lunging at the man appointed by God to pass judgment on their behavior.

John 5:22 . . Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son

Acts 17:31 . . God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all by raising him from the dead.
 

Beatitude (02)

Matt 5:4 . . Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

That beatitude, I believe, is related to one of the Psalms.

Ps 55:1-2 . . Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise

And in turn, related to one of Job's remarks.

Job 5:8-11 . . I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number: who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: to set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to liberty.

And again:

Isa 61:1-3 . .The spirit of Yhvh God is upon me, because Yhvh has anointed me; He has sent me as a herald of joy to the humble, to bind up the wounded of heart, to proclaim release to the captives, liberation to the imprisoned; to proclaim a year of Yhvh's favor and a day of vindication by our God; to comfort all who mourn— to provide for the mourners in Zion —to give them a turban instead of ashes, the festive ointment instead of mourning, a garment of splendor instead of a drooping spirit.

The "mourning" as per the second beatitude is therefore related to life's hard knocks shared with God in honest, forthright prayer.

Php 4:5-7 . .The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep watch over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Heb 4:15-16 . . For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
 

Beatitude (03)

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

The third beatitude is another that comes from the Old Testament.

Ps 37:10-11 . .For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

NOTE: Some of the beatitudes contain both a present tense clause and a future tense clause in the same sentence.

"blessed are" is present tense.

"shall inherit" is future tense.

"blessed" is an ambiguous word. Depending upon the application, and/or the context; it can mean fortunate, happy, favored, approved, venerated, contented, honored, respected, successful, prosperous, praise-worthy, privileged, endowed, and protected.

According to Christ, the meek are fortunate because it is they who shall inherit, not heaven, but rather, the earth: that's an important distinction.

Why won't they inherit heaven? Because, as every instructed Israelite already knew in Christ's day; the long-anticipated theocratic kingdom won't be up in the celestial regions; but rather, down here on the ground, headquartered in Jerusalem; whose monarch will be one of David's sons; better known in the Old Testament as The Branch and/or the Sprig of Jesse.

So then, among the Israelites; who qualifies as meek? Well; Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and Christ was meek (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5). Personally I wouldn't categorize either of those two Israelite men as meek. So then, what really is meekness?

The koiné Greek word for "meek" in the third beatitude is praus (prah-ooce') which means mild.

Webster's defines "mild" as gentle in nature or behavior; viz: temperate; in other words: agreeable, approachable, reasonable, calm, mellow, and self-controlled.

Non-temperate people could be characterized as moody, grudging, irritable, emotional, thin-skinned, belligerent, pugnacious, brawling, defensive, confrontational, and reactive; around whom everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time to avoid setting them off.

A temperate person, though mellow in demeanor, should never be assumed lacking in strength, courage, conviction, or self confidence. Anybody who's studied the lives of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were either timid, wimpy, or vacillating.

Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be assertive when the situation called for it. Temperate people like Jacob and Isaac pick their battles carefully, and avoid getting all riled up over trifles.

Can you just imagine the pleasure of living in a global society composed entirely of temperate people? That alone would be Nirvana to me.

The 37th Psalm also promises peace; which implies not only the absence of war; but also the absence of training for war; viz: martial arts and standing armies.

Isa 2:4 . .They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Mic 4:4 . .They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid
 

Beatitude (04)

Matt 5:6 . . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

The koiné Greek word for "righteousness" is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay) which means: equity; which Webster's defines as: lacking in bias or favoritism.

The world recently witnessed an example of gross inequity not that long ago in the Wall Street crash of 2008 wherein US citizens were forced against their will to bail out unscrupulous investment banks and securities insurers while leaving their victims' homes under water; their jobs gone and their pensions devalued.

In another event, the executives of energy giant ENRON walked away from the corporation's bankruptcy with millions of dollars of their own money intact, while its employees' 401Ks were wrecked beyond repair.

And it's only fair to include heinous agri-business companies like Monsanto who sue innocent farmers for patent infringement when Monsanto's genetically modified seeds and pollens blow in from who knows where taking root and contaminating a farmer's field with neither his consent nor his knowledge; the meanwhile Monsanto is so well connected in Washington that they're impervious to product liability.

Inequity is rampant everywhere in law, finance, industry, agriculture, food processing, manufacturing, politics, religion, business, government, education, food distribution, housing, wealth, cliques and pecking orders; et al— you name it; inequity is there in one form or another.

Evil thrives, blooms, and prospers on inequity. Well, one day, disparity, partiality, and favoritism will cease to exist on this planet when Messiah takes over to rule it with fairness across the board regardless of where people fit on the totem pole— no matter their gender, nor their race, nor how well connected they might be, nor how wealthy, nor how intelligent, nor how beautiful, nor how important, nor how highly positioned, nor how highly esteemed they may be in public opinion.

Ps 98:4-9 . . Shout joyfully to Yhvh, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Sing to Yhvh with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before Yhvh, the King. Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it; let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before Yhvh, for He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.

Ps 99:2-4 . . Yhvh is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name— He is holy. The King's strength also loves justice; you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

Isa 11:4 . . But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

So then, the fourth beatitude's blessing is reserved for all who long for Messiah's oversight in world affairs.

Matt 13:41-43 . . The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

2Pet 3:13 . . But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth: the home of righteousness.
 

Beatitude (05)

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Christ wasn't talking about forgiveness in that beatitude. The word for "merciful" is eleemon (el-eh-ay'-mone) which means: compassionate (as an adjective). And the word for "mercy" is eleeo (el-eh-eh'-o) which means: to pity (as a verb).

So then, what Christ says is: if somebody is by nature cruel, hard hearted, thoughtless, and insensitive; then they will get no sympathy from God whatsoever.

Webster's defines "cruel" as: (1) disposed to inflict pain or suffering, (2) devoid of humane feelings, (3) causing or conducive to injury, grief, or pain, and (4) unrelieved by leniency.

A glaring example of cruelty is North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, a dictator who squanders billions of dollars on national defense while the growth of something like than 30 to 40 percent of North Korea's children is stunted by malnutrition; and adequate health care is available only to a relatively privileged few. There are actually hospitals in North Korea without electricity, medications, and anesthetics. Potable water is another scarcity in North Korea.

You know, after watching a couple of documentaries on NetFlix, I've come to the conclusion that North Korea is being governed by a man gone mad.

But there are cruelties far more common than Jong-Un's; for example: demeaning comments, thoughtless remarks, carping criticism, relentless ridicule, bullying, sniping, denigrating labels, hounding, stalking, grudging, needling, perpetual fault-finding, gossip, slander, social sabotage, obnoxious behavior, computer hacking, rejoinders, et al.

There are actually kids growing up in homes where their parents never give them even one atta-boy. As a result, they grow up feeling ugly, unwanted, stupid, useless, and unnecessary. There are also kids growing up in homes where mothers never hug them nor bother to take the time to forge a bond between mother and child. Thus they grow up with reactive attachment disorder; feeling convinced that no one could possibly ever love them or be their best friend forever.

Matt 9:13 . . But go and learn what that means: I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.

In order to properly understand Christ's statement; it's necessary to go back into the Old Testament from whence he got it.

Hos 6:4-6 . .What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I slaughtered you with the words of my mouth; My judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

In other words: God accepts Temple sacrifices when they're offered by people who exemplify the milk of human kindness, and He fully rejects the offerings of insensitive jerks, which is exactly what the Pharisees of his day were. They knew, and they practiced, the letter of Moses' covenanted law— they dotted all the I's and they crossed all the T's. But they utterly failed to exemplify the spirit of the law; which is summed up in just one simple statement:

Matt 7:12 . .Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

The spirit of Israel's covenanted law applies to Christians too. Maybe your record of church attendance is 100%, and you tithe faithfully every week; but let me tell you something: God is rejecting every last bit of your superficial worship if you are by nature callous and insensitive. You'll be better off spending Sunday morning at a sports bar rather than wasting God's time at church.

Mic 6:8 . . He has told you, O man, what is good— and what does Yhvh require of you but to love kindness.

Conclusion: Unkind people shall be judged with neither sympathy nor pity, and then afterwards; slammed with cruel and unusual punishment. Fair's fair.

Jas 2:13 . . For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy
 

Beatitude (06)

Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

"pure" can be defined as: (1) free from dirt, pollution, contamination, or disease, (2) unadulterated, (3) unmixed with any other matter, (4) free from dust, dirt, or taint; viz: clean, (5) spotless, stainless, (6) containing nothing that does not properly belong, (7) free from moral fault or guilt, etc.

This is yet another beatitude that wasn't new with Christ. He took it from the Old Testament.

Ps 24:3-5 . .Who may ascend into the hill of The Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart . . . he shall receive a blessing from The Lord.

The "heart" spoken of isn't the organic muscle tissue housed within the human thorax whose task is to circulate blood throughout the body. No, not even close. What we're talking about here isn't an organ; it's man's center, his basic nature; viz: that which constitutes the very core of his being.

The item to note is that it isn't a pure mind that's blessed; nor pure thoughts that are blessed; but rather, a pure heart.

Humanity's heart is the root source of the wicked thoughts that go through the human mind. For example; the act of adultery begins not in the mind; but in the heart.

Matt 5:28-29 . . But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

There's a host of other evils that originate in the heart.

Matt 15:17-19 . . But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man impure. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

An impure heart is one of the seven things that God despises.

Prv 6:16-18 . .These six things Yhvh hates; yes, seven are an abomination to Him . . . a heart that devises wicked schemes.

No man can rectify an impure heart because no man can even fathom his own heart's impurity to begin with.

Jer 17:9 . .The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

Humanity's heart may be a complete mystery to humans; but to God; it's an open book.

Jer 17:10 . . I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.

1Cor 4:5 . . He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men's hearts.

Rev 2:23 . . I am He who searches the minds and hearts.

We're all pretty good at snowing each other, but nobody is going to snow God. Former President Harold Truman once said: the buck stops here. God says: the snow stops here— with me.

A shipyard foreman I worked with years ago in San Diego once remarked that hell won't be so bad because he'll have lots of friends down there. No he won't. When God pulls back the curtain and reveals people's true colors; it's likely my foreman won't have even one friend left anywhere, much less in hell.

Q: Doesn't the sacrament of reconciliation make one's heart suitable for the so-called Beatific Vision?

A: The sacrament of reconciliation remits one's deeds; but does nothing to address the impure heart that's responsible for those deeds; which is why one trip to confession is never enough. You'll be back because your heart is impure; and according to 1John 1:8-10, reconciliation wasn't set up to remedy its condition; and to my knowledge, there are no confessionals in the kingdom of God.
 

Beatitude (07)

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The koiné Greek word for "peacemakers" is eirenopoios (i-ray-nop-oy-os') an ambiguous word that can indicate people who effect peace, and also people who are peaceable in nature. Precisely which is meant in Matt 5:9 is difficult to tell since there's only two places in the entire New Testament where eirenopoios appears— here and in the passage below :

Mark 9:50 . . Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.

An unrelated passage may shed some light on the correct application of eirenopoios in Matt 5:9 and Mark 9:50.

Col 4:6 . . Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

In other words; speech seasoned with salt indicates a civil tongue in one's head— a tongue that goes easy on people's nerves rather than a tongue that deliberately grates, stirs the pot, chafes, antagonizes, denigrates, humiliates, demoralizes, ridicules, injures, provokes, demeans, discourages, and tears people down and makes them feel bad about themselves.

There are some people in this world who are simply implacable. They're indignant over everything, For them rivalry, conflict, revenge, retaliation, quarrelling, and grudging are a way of life: every disagreement is an act of war— their egos are fragile; they're defensive, they're reactive, and easily insulted.

They thrive on criticism, carping, finding fault and pointing out mistakes, tattling, bickering, retorts, rejoinders, recriminations, endless debate, telling other people off, and giving people a piece of their mind. And some of them are bullies, meddlers, domineering, imperious, and rumor mongers. And they foster ill will and disharmony by starting a conversation with "you should hear what so-and-so said about you".

Those kinds of people are definitely not of the peaceable genre so they won't be given a room of their own in God's home; nor a place around His table.

You know, some people don't know it but the Bible's God not only has His standards; but He also has some very strong feelings about the kinds of people with whom He prefers to allow within His inner circle. Do you reserve the right to pick your own friends? Well; so does God; and He definitely does not enjoy being with people who are always ready to fight at the drop of a hat over every perceived injustice, and every trivial little thing that annoys them.

Below are qualities that easily qualify as peaceable.

Cordial stresses warmth and heartiness

Affable implies easy approachability and readiness to respond pleasantly to conversation or requests or proposals

Genial stresses cheerfulness and even joviality

Sociable suggests a genuine liking for the companionship of others

Generous is characterized by a noble or forbearing spirit; viz : magnanimous, kindly, and liberal in giving

Charitable means full of love for, and goodwill toward, others; viz : benevolent, tolerant, and lenient.

Altruistic means unselfish regard for, or devotion to, the welfare of others; viz : a desire to be of service to others for no other reason than it just feels good to do so.

Tactful indicates a keen sense of what to do, or say, in order to maintain good relations with others in order to resolve and/or avoid unnecessary conflict.

The seventh beatitude alone easily disqualifies a good many people from deserving to be honored as sons of God.
 

Beatitude (08)

Matt 5:10 . . Blessed are those persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The koiné Greek word for "persecute" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which means: to pursue; viz: to hound.

The kind of persecution particular to that beatitude is malicious in that it's akin to making it one's mission in life to aggressively oppose, stalk, harass, grieve, chafe, criticize, nit pick, find fault, attack, contradict, pester, and/or annoy somebody.

This kind of persecution is spiteful, and actually goes out of its way to vex its target and ruin their day, get them upset and/or prevent them from having any success or making any progress.

This isn't necessarily religious persecution. It's the kind of grief everyone has to expect if and/or whenever they stand up for what's right; and I think it goes without saying that if someone is strong enough to stand up for what's right in a world gone mad with evil, they will have no difficulty standing up for what's right in the kingdom of heaven because there they'll have lots of support.
 

Beatitude (09)

Matt 5:11-12 . . Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The kind of abuse that Christ spoke of comes with the turf of being one of his believing followers.

Phil 1:29-30 . . For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

There is a curious passage in the book of Revelation that goes like this:

Rev 21:8 . . But for the cowardly . . . their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

The cowardly are people who avoid any hint of either alliance with, or allegiance to, Christ because they don't want to be branded with the social stigma, and/or endure the indignity and mockery, that comes with being one of his followers.

Those kinds of cowards have absolutely no interest in hearing the gospel except maybe as a curiosity and/or fodder for a pointless bull session that never gets to the bottom of anything; so do yourself a solid and don't take the bait.

Matt 7:6 . . Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

 


Additional Beatitudes
  

A number of the Bible's beatitudes aren't included with the regular beatitudes in the so-called Sermon On The Mount and/or the Sermon On The Plain. I'm thinking it might be kind of fun to take a look at some of those; beginning with the one below.

(01)

Matt 13:16-17 . . Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear. Assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not, and to hear what you hear, and did not.

NOTE: The Greek word translated "blessed" in that passage is makarios (mak-ar'-ee-os) which primarily means supremely fortunate and/or well off.

To put that blessing in perspective: just imagine what an amazing stroke of luck it was to be alive in the decade of the 1960's, and near a television watching live as the first man ever to walk on the moon descended a ladder to the surface.

Thousands of generations preceded that decade, Those of us who witnessed Neil Armstrong take mankind's first step on the moon were extremely fortunate beneficiaries of a chance confluence of time and circumstances.

We today read about Christ but did not see him when he was here because we were born too late. It's sort of like kids in school reading about the space race but never experiencing any of it for themselves because they were born too late. What's history to them, was at one time daily current events for many of us.

But did the Jews at the time of Christ appreciate their good fortune? Some did; but many did not because they somehow failed to discern his significance.

Luke 19:41-42 . . And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it; saying: If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

(02)

Luke 11:28 . . Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

The koiné Greek word for "keep" is phulasso (foo-las'-so) which means, variously: to watch, to be on guard, to preserve, to obey, and/or to avoid (viz: evade)

Phulasso is just the opposite of letting something slip from one's grasp either by neglect, indifference, carelessness, or distractions; for example:

Heb 6:7-8 . . Soil that drinks in the rain often falling on it, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed, receives the blessing of God. But soil that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Field burning used to be common in Oregon's Willamette Valley to rid the soil of viable weed seeds in preparation for the next round of planting. Those weed seeds aren't the result of neglect; in point of fact, they're to be expected. The danger lies in allowing weed seeds to germinate because the adult plants will compete with crops for soil, water, and sunlight resulting in a poor crop, or worse; no crop at all.

In those cases, the entire field, weeds and crops both, have to be incinerated in order to start from scratch; and a whole season's work is for naught so Oregon's farmers stand guard over their soil against noxious species. That is truly a real-life example of the old proverb: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Mark 4:3-8 . . Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed . . . some seed fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades so that it produced no grain . . .The thorny ground represents those who hear the word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced.

We have an invasive species of thorn bush up here in Oregon called Himalayan Blackberry. That stuff is very aggressive and lets nothing stand in its way. Left uncontrolled, Himalayan will proliferate with huge bramble patches that easily smother perfectly good soil and render it useless for planting.

Ironically, even legitimate chores like housekeeping can become "Himalayans" if not kept in check; for example: one day the Lord was over to some friends for dinner and one of the two sisters in the home complained to the Lord that the other wasn't making herself useful out in the kitchen. His response?

Luke 10:38-42 . . As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

. . . She came to him and asked: Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!

. . . Martha, Martha; the Lord answered: you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is truly needful. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

You see, it's all a matter of prioritizing one's activities in order to insure a time slot for the Lord even if you have to put something else on hold. But if you keep putting the Lord on hold, it's only a matter time before life's brambles completely block him out. If people can make time for other things, then it really shouldn't be all that difficult to make time for him.

Samuel is a good case in point of "keeping" the word of God.

1Sam 3:19 . . So Samuel grew, and Yhvh was with him; and did let none of His words fall to the ground.

In other words: Samuel not only harkened to God's words; but also applied what he learned. But it is impossible for somebody to apply God's words when they're uninformed as to what those words are.

Rom 12:2 . . Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind; that you may approve what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

(03)

Luke 12:35-38 . . Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.

. . . Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

The man in the parable isn't the bridegroom of the mentioned wedding because he returned home alone without a bride in tow.

But don't they usually serve alcohol at wedding receptions? I think we can safely assume that a single guy returning from a wedding party is going to be a bit unsteady on his feet; and if not, then at least tired and sleepy and ready for bed after dancing all night with the ladies.

The point is, his servants expected their master's return sometime that night and so stayed up to open the house and get him inside quickly and safely. Their lanterns would come in very handy for illuminating his path in order to avoid stumbling and possibly falling down in the dark.

It appears to me, from the tenor of the parable, that what the man's servants did was above and beyond the call of duty. They didn't have to stay up late waiting for him to come home. No, they did it because they had a genuine concern for their master's welfare just like the moms and dads who stay up late waiting for their teens to come home from dates, proms, cruising the mall, and/or late-night movies.

I really have to hand it to the master of the house. Rather than take his servants for granted; his gratitude really shows in reciprocating their caring concern by treating them like royalty. I think the blessing in that parable comes from the servants' good fortune to have a master with a heart of gold like that.

Matt 11:29-30 . .Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls: for my yoke causes no discomfort, and my burden isn't heavy.

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Luke 14:12-14 . .When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

At the time that Christ spoke those words, he was attending an exclusive dinner party, hosted by a prominent Pharisee. Whether it was "black tie" isn't stated; but then, not all such events are black tie. Some are informal back-yard barbecues. (catered, of course)

So anyway, it looks to me like Christ wasn't recommending opening your home to down-and-out strangers for Sunday dinner. The mixer he was attending was an event: one of those you'd likely find reported next day on the society page of your local newspaper. Personally, I have neither the wherewithal, the status, nor the ambition to host those kinds of parties.

In his day, there were no agencies set up to provide for people whose health prevented them from earning a living. Nor were there any welfare services for people down on their luck. So the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind were pretty desperate.

Christ said that people who have the wherewithal and the status to host such events, and find it in their hearts to include some desperate folk, are blessed because their generosity will be taken into consideration at the resurrection of the righteous.

If so, then the converse is true. The generous acts of the unrighteous won't be taken into consideration.

Take for example social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg. He recently pledged a chunk of his fortune to charity. But will that compensate for the dishonest way he went about founding FaceBook? No, it won't because Mr. Zuckerberg is at heart an unscrupulous barracuda; ergo: he will not take part in the resurrection of the righteous.

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John 13:17 . . If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

In other words: Bible reading, Bible study, Bible discussion, Bible classes, Bible debate, and/or Bible memorization without any intent of allowing the information to sink into one's skull, or reform one's life, or influence one's thinking, speaking, or feeling; is of little more value blessing-wise than comic books and romance novels.

Jas 1:22-25 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

. . . But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives liberty, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does.

The non-doers will of course not be blessed.

Matt 7:26-27 . . Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

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John 20:29 . . Then Jesus said to Thomas: You believe because you've seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway.

Some things are much easier to believe when we're very young; for example: the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and leprechauns. But as we mature, those things become silly.

As for Jesus' resurrection: it doesn't help that it's God's wishes that the gospel not hold up in court nor stand to reason. I don't know why; but for some reason it's important to God that the world dimiss believers off as fools rather than wise. He actually wants Christ's followers to be esteemed as Forrest Gumpsters with the minds of a naive child.

Mark 10:15 . . I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

That's really bad news for agnostics, which are defined as people who neither affirm nor deny that Christ's crucified body revived simply because they have yet to be shown sufficient empirical evidence proving it did.

1Cor 1:26 . . Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

Sophisticated people are not easily convinced, but they're not impossible.

1Cor 1:30 . . It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus,

(07)

Acts 20:35 . . Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Those words of the Lord are not recorded in the four gospels; which is a good object lesson. Here's another orphan quote.

Matt 2:22-23 . . Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene".

You won't find that quote in the Old Testament so there's no use in looking for it; and that's because not every word spoken by the prophets was recorded: same as not every word that Christ spoke is recorded in the gospels.

Receiving charity is a blessing too; though it isn't nearly as valuable a blessing as lending to charity because receiving it is a temporary blessing; while lending it has promise of return on one's investment.

Prv 19:17 . . He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord; and He will reward him for what he has done.

One could actually think of charity as contributions to a heavenly 401K.

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Rev 16:15 . . Take note: I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their robes ready so they will not need to walk naked and embarrassed.

Christ's return is commonly spoken of as "soon" but the Bible speaks of it as sudden and without warning rather than soon.

Matt 24:27 . . For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

"who keep their robes ready so they will not need to walk naked and embarrassed" is a colloquialism similar to the old saw "be careful you don't get caught with your pants down".

Quite a few people have heard that Christ is returning some day to rule the world, but they don't worry about it because in the backs of their minds they're pretty sure it won't happen in their lifetimes. Well; Christ does not admire that attitude because you just never know when and/or where lightening will strike next.

Matt 24:42-44 . .Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

The first time I heard that Christ was coming back, I got frightened because I instinctively knew that were he to summon me, it would not go well as I had a lot to answer for. But the information put me in line for the blessing because when I found out he was returning, I became very interested in the means for getting ready to meet him.

Prov 22:3 . . A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

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Rev 19:9 . .Then he said to me: Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!

The blessing is associated with the fact that John Q and Jane Doe are essentially obscure.

Politicians call us voters. Hollywood calls us box office. Sports call us fans. The media calls us tax payers. The President calls us fellow Americans. Wall Street calls us investors. The church calls us members. The police call us male and female. The military calls us civilians. The bank calls us depositors. The airlines calls us passengers, Big box stores call us shoppers.

But how many of those agencies have ever thought enough about you to add your name to the guest list of one of their wedding parties? Probably none; and that's because they don't want to know you like that.

John 6:44 . . No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him

It's easy to assume that God would readily invite really important people to come to the marriage supper of the lamb; but John Q and Jane Doe? It's like winning the lottery.

Tragically many, too dim-witted to appreciate their good fortune, find excuses to beg off.

Matt 22:2-5 . .The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying: Tell those who are invited; "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.

Luke 14:16-21 . . A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited: Come, for all things are now ready. But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him: I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused. And another said: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused. Still another said: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

Human nature is sometimes unable to appreciate its opportunities till they're lost. And then there are those who let blessings slip through their fingers by their lack of propriety.

Matt 22:7-13 . .Then he said to his servants: The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.

. . . But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him: Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants: Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness— there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Some restaurants require that male patrons dine with a coat and tie, and should the men arrive without those items, the maitres d' usually has something on hand to loan. I'm guessing that the last-minute guests of Matt 22:7-13 arrived without a coat and tie (so to speak) and the king's butler offered to loan them whatever they needed; but they refused and attempted to crash the party. Well, you can see what that got them.

The original guests didn't appreciate their opportunity, while some of the last-minute guests refused to dress for the occasion. Either way; both missed the boat.

Matt 22:14 . . For many are invited, but few are chosen.

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Rev 20:5-6 . . Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

The reason why the first resurrection is so blessed is because the people who obtain it will rise from the dead immortal; but those who obtain the second resurrection won't be immortal.

The two resurrections are clearly predicted in the Bible.

Dan 12:2-3 . . Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:28-30 . . for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

The two resurrections can be further categorized as one for the Living, and one for the Dead.

Matt 22:31-32 . . But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

So then, the "living" will attain to the resurrection of Rev 20:5-6 while the "dead" are reserved for the resurrection depicted at Rev 20:11-15.

It's of note that the "dead" are mentioned four times in Rev 20:11-15 while the "living" aren't mentioned at all and that's because the living won't be subpoenaed to appear at the Great White Throne. And why is that? Because the living's day in court took place on Calvary by proxy participation in Christ's crucifixion.

Rom 6:3 . . Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Rom 6:6 . . Our old self was crucified with him.

Gal 2:20 . . I am crucified with Christ

Those of us crucified with Christ are immune to the second death and are now beneficiaries of a second life.

John 5:24 . . I assure you: those who listen to my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

And already citizens of the future kingdom too.

Col 1:13-14 . . He has delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the son of His love: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Moral of the beatitude is: the second resurrection— the one for the dead —is on its way; it's inevitable. Like a 9.0 earthquake and a twenty-foot tsunami; there is no stopping it: and the frightful fact is that it's the default resurrection; so then, people who've yet to die on the cross by means of proxy participation in Christ's crucifixion, are on a sure-fire collision course with the wrong resurrection.

NOTE: According to Dan 12:2 and John 5:28-29, there is but one resurrection allotted per person. So then; nobody is coming back from the second death seeing as how they will have used up their one resurrection to face justice at the Great White Throne event.

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Rev 22:7 . . And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed are they who heed the words of the prophecy of this book.

The English word "quickly" is misleading and tends to give the wrong impression. The New Testament Greek word is tachu (takh-oo') which is an ambiguous word that can mean: shortly, without delay, soon, suddenly, and or readily.

The best selection is "suddenly".

Matt 24:27 . . For as the lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.

Lightning flashes don't gradually increase in brightness like a dining room chandelier on a dimmer switch; no, lightning flashes fully illuminate the sky practically instantaneously; and so it will be with the Lord's arrival: one second he's not here, the next second: bang! he's on-site.

But the Lord's arrival won't be totally unannounced. The calamities depicted in the book of Revelation will serve to alert the world to his return— at least it will serve that purpose for those who "heed the words of the prophecy of this book". The rest of course will neither be blessed nor have a clue.

Matt 24:28-30 . . Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near. Immediately after those horrible days end, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of cosmos will be shaken.

. . . And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be severe grief felt among all the nations of the earth as they watch the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

His arrival will be accompanied by a huge entourage.

Jude 1:14-15 . . Behold, the Lord is coming with a myriad of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the impious of all their impious deeds which they have done in an impious way, and of all the harsh things which impious sinners have spoken against him.

That is without doubt the reason why Tribulation survivors all over the world will suffer severe grief at his return.

Rev 6:12-17 . . I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from trees shaken by mighty winds. And the sky was rolled up like a scroll and taken away. And all of the mountains and all of the continents disappeared.

. . .Then the kings of the earth, the rulers, the generals, the wealthy people, the people with great power, and every slave and every free person all hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they cried to the mountains and the rocks: Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who will be able to survive?

To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.

Prv 22:3 . . A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

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Rev 22:14-15 . . Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

The city in view is a brand spanking new Jerusalem constructed off-site in heaven and then lowered into position on a brand new earth. (Rev 21:1-27)

The citizenry of the city is very exclusive.

Rev 21:27 . . Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

People whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life won't be able to enter the city primarily because prior to its installation; they'll all be incarcerated in a reservoir of liquefied flame.

Rev 20:11-15 . . Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.

. . .The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Victims of the second death the dogs of Rev 22:15 will be on display like the bones and skeletons open to the public at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

Isa 66:23-24 . . All humanity will come to worship Me from week to week and from month to month. And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter loathing.

Therefore:

Mark 9:47-48 . . If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It is better to enter the kingdom of God half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell: where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out.

Paradoxically, one's robes are laundered, for the purposes of entering the new Jerusalem, not with soap and water, but with blood.

Rev 1:4-6 . . John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Rev 22:14-15 is the last of the beatitudes; and targets a future audience for whom the below will be both timely and pertinent.

Rev 22:20 . . He who testifies to these things says: Surely; I am coming in a rush.


 

 

 

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