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Analyzing Beatitudes

 

Our subject material is 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.

When I was a growing boy, the church I attended typically recited the beatitudes at the end of services; but with no accompanying explanations. As a result, they meant nothing to me in a personal way. It was just more rote drilled into my head like everything else I was taught back in those days.

I discovered later on that the beatitudes are not something to be admired; no, they're 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 a fairly 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.

The Greek word translated "blessed" doesn't necessarily indicate the hand of God; it just simply means fortunate, viz: possessing something worth having, e.g. a high IQ, good looks, noble birth, lots of friends, the ability to read and write, courage, beauty, etc.

The Greek word translated "mourn" means to grieve, i.e. sorrow; which can be the result of something lost and/or something wished for that's nigh unto impossible to attain, viz: the impossible dream.

The difference between ordinary mourners and fortunate mourners is that the fortunate ones take the initiative to share their grief with God, and look to Him for relief.

"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" (Ps 55:1-2)

Matt 5:4 is underwritten by a passage in the Old Testament that says:

"The spirit of The Lord God is upon me, because The Lord 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 The Lord'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." (Isa 61:1-3)

According to Luke 4:16-21, Jesus claimed that passage pertained specifically to himself; therefore:

Heb 4:15-16 . .We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

The Greek word translated "boldly" means to be out-spoken, viz: candid, frank, blunt, and confident. In other words: God prefers conversational prayer rather than the memorized rote chanting practiced by some. When folks are able to share their problems with heaven as if confiding in a friend, then they are on to something worth keeping.
 

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.

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 Greek word translated "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, militant, 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? No more protests, no more demonstrations, no more civil disobedience, no more riots, no more vandalism, no more marches, and no more bullies. That alone would be Nirvana to me.

( It was dangerous in 2020 USA to display the stars and stripes on Flag Day due to the possibility of violent reprisals by gone-mad political activists. )

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 Greek word translated "righteousness" is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay) which basically means equity; roughly defined as the application of law without passion, bias, favoritism, disparity, or prejudice.

In the world we live in today, it is very difficult to find equity; even the nine judges sitting on the US Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, are incapable of it; evidenced by their chronic lack of unanimity on many of the issues that they pick and choose for themselves to take into consideration. And no surprise seeing as how they are typically nominated for the position primarily on the basis of their politics.

I strongly suspect that the blessing spoken of in this beatitude is qualified. In other words; it doesn't pertain to just any wish for equity; rather, to equity as it's predicted in the Old Testament. In a nutshell, there's coming a day that inequity 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 age, race, or gender, 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 Jehovah, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Sing to Jehovah with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before Jehovah, 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 Jehovah, for He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.

Ps 99:2-4 . . Jehovah 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 pertains to 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.

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 well-known 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 30 to 40 percent of North Korea's children is stunted by malnutrition. 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.

But Kim is a red herring because are cruelties far more common than his; 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, toxic rejoinders, et al.

There are actually kids growing up in homes right here in the USA where their parents never give them even one atta-boy. As a result, they grow up feeling ugly, unwanted, stupid, useless, marginal, expendable, 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. RAD kids grow up to become adults with some serious trust issues.

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 Jehovah require of you but to love kindness.

Conclusion: Callous people shall be judged with neither kindness, 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.

A rough-hewn definition of "pure in heart" is when someone is the same on the inside as they are on the outside; which is just the opposite of dissembling; defined as: to put on a false appearance, i.e. conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense.

Dissembling is a very common form of dishonesty which is practiced by just about everybody at one time or another. Most of us do not always want others to know what we are actually thinking and/or feeling about certain things. The very opposite of that is transparency, which most of us want from others, but prefer not to reciprocate with transparency of our own.

Here's a really good example of someone pure in heart.

"When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." (John 1:47)

Jesus was pure in heart too.

"No deceit was found in his mouth." (1Pet 2:22)

I think we may safely assume there are no exceptions to the sixth beatitude, i.e. no one is exempt; in other words: sincerity and forthrightness aren't optional with God; they're a must.

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


Beatitude (07)

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

The Greek word translated "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 are neither suitable nor acceptable for a room of their own in God's home and 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 Greek word translated "persecute" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which means: to pursue; viz: to hound.

The kind of persecution particular to this 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 known as his 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, Jesus Christ because they don't want to be branded with the social stigma, and/or endure the indignity and the mockery, that comes with being one of his followers.

"If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (1Pet 4:15-17)

NOTE: One of the unavoidable negative aspects of Christianity is that when the world finds out we believe in it, they immediately begin watching to see how well we live up to it: in other words; they look for opportunities to peg us as hypocrites. Well; that comes with the turf too so we just have to bite the bullet and learn to roll with the punches, so to speak.

 


Additional Beatitudes
  

A number of beatitudes aren't included 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.

To put that blessing in perspective: just imagine what an amazing stroke of good fortune 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 as history; we didn't 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 came along later. 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 Greek word translated "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 Jehovah was with him; and did let none of His words fall to the ground.

(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.

(04)

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.

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 for their daily needs.

A good way to obtain the blessing that Jesus spoke of is to support a Mission. Every city has at least one located somewhere near the downtown area. You might get their address and begin sending them a monthly donation. Quite a few deprived folk depend on Missions for their very survival.

"He who is kind to the poor lends to The Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done." (Prov 19:17)

(05)

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.

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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 dismiss 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; roughly defined as people who neither affirm nor deny that Christ's crucified dead body was restored to life simply because they have yet to be shown sufficient empirical evidence proving it did-- or even that he really existed.

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.

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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 supporting a 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.

"all 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.

One of the reasons why the first resurrection is so blessed is because the people who obtain it will rise from the dead immortal; whereas people whose return to life is delayed till the second resurrection won't be immortal.

The thousand years are to take place right here on the current Earth prior to its obliteration, which is really to our advantage because all the places we did not, nor could not, visit and/or explore in this life will still be available to us in the next.

Also during that time, man and beast will be at peace with one another so that we'll have nothing to fear from critters like poisonous bugs, viruses, piranha, crocodiles, deadly snakes, nor big predators like lions and tigers, and bears, and wolves, etc. We will be able to tour the globe unmolested by anything normally harmful to human life, health, and safety.

In addition, according to Psalm 91, celestial beings will be assigned to protect us from falls so that those of us afraid of heights in this life won't fear them then; we'll be free to climb, hike, and explore all the really dangerous canyons and mountains that we tend to avoid for now. Drowning won't be a hazard either; nor will war, and crime, and toxic vegetation.

Immortality coupled with angelic body guards can't get any better than that. Man, I am really looking forward to God getting those thousand years up and running.

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Rev 22:7 . . 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 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.

This might be a good place to interject a parable that was told of ten young girls. (Matt 25:1-13)

In a nutshell, all ten were stationed with lamps along the parade route of a wedding procession to assist in guiding the groom and his guests to find their way to the location where a reception was to be held.

That poor parable has been spun, metaphored, analogized, and spiritualized in every detail imaginable while missing the obvious; which is very simple.

The five girls who ran out of oil for their lamps made the mistake of abandoning their posts to go on errand in search of oil supplies instead of keeping their watch. By the time they returned, the procession was all inside and the doors were shut for the night thus causing the girls to miss out on all the fun, food, and festivity.

Alas; the lasses let themselves be distracted by a trifle, thus neglecting that which mattered most. We would say they fiddled while Rome burned all 'round them, i.e. they majored on a minor.

"Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matt 24:42-44)

"Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you." (Rev 3:3)

FYI: Some of the "words of the prophecy of this book" that are no doubt certain to be proven useful to just about anybody are the ones below:

"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?" (Rev 6:12-17)

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

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

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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.

I ran into a bit of a problem with that passage. The Greek text used to translate my English versions doesn't contain words for "wash their robes". They're apparently an arbitrary editorial insertion, i.e. they're penciled in. Some versions say "do his commandments" but those words are arbitrary too.

So then, just to play it safe, I suggest it might be a good idea to edit that passage so it reads like this:

"Blessed are those who have the right to the tree of life, and may go through the gates into the city."

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). In the past, a new Jerusalem was re-constructed atop the ruins of a former Jerusalem, but not this one. The new Earth is fresh and new; there are no ruins anywhere on it to be found.

According to Gen 3:22, the tree of life sustains immortality; which always pertains to the body rather than the soul or spirit. The tree of life is also a good remedy for whatever ails you. (Rev 22:2)

The tree is located inside the walls of the new city so that in order to take advantage of the tree's benefits, people have to first get past the gates. Not just anyone is admitted who wants in. Immigration is tightly controlled.

Rev 22:15 . . . Outside are the dogs-- those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices dishonesty.

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 the city's installation; the rejects will all be terminated by a mode of death akin to a foundry worker falling into a kettle of molten iron.

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.


 

 

 

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