By Daniel Downs
In my previous three posts, the relevance of the Sermon given by Jesus on Mount Gerezim was discussed. It is still important today because of God’s concern for both those who are spiritually and materially poor. The blessed are those who discover God and His welfare plan, which includes gaining a challenging yet comforting coach and divine rights to property. (See Sermon on the Mount: Any Relevance Today, From Weeping to Laughing, and Property Rights).
Jesus also taught that spiritual food would produce a high quality of life. In this part of the sermon, Jesus focuses on the quality of life the blessed are expected to live. As recorded in the gospel of Matthew, he said:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Mt. 5:6 NASB)
Here Jesus uses metaphorical language. Just as natural it is to feel hunger pains. It is natural for the blessed of God to strongly desire the presence of God. In a world filled every kind of immorality and injustice as well as arguments to justify them, it is impossible for God’s people to be unaffected. Because of this reality, thirsting for God’s righteousness is as natural as thirsting for cold water amidst a scorching summer day. Within our daily struggle with unrighteousness and our seeking first His righteousness, we find the presence of God the enabling power to live the way of Christ.
It is in this interactive relationship with God that His righteousness develops in us.
Notice, however, Jesus did not say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s presence. It is in seeking the righteousness of God that His presence is experienced. That is what Paul meant when he wrote:
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:6-7 NASB)
Yet, one of the rewards of our faith is knowing God. A real relationship is not based on belief or faith alone but experiencing the presence of the other person. How can we have a relationship with another (i.e., parent, child, spouse, friend) without being with, communicating with, and doing things with the other person? It is no different with our heavenly Father. The obvious difference is physically seeing God, but waning of feelings is normal in all relationships.
The calling of the prophets provides us with the best example. For many of the Hebrew prophets had visions and dreams in which saw and heard God is a tangible way. They saw, heard, and felt God in a physiological manner. Overtime their descriptions of received revelation were limited to hearing the voice or word of the Lord. The reason is the prophets like us live a spiritual life through the flesh in a physical world where God is not physically visible. Being satiated with the materiality of nature is the human norm. In order for God to acclimatize them to His presence and will, they had to become familiar with Him in a physical way. Once familiar with God, they only needed to perceive the words of His voice. They otherwise lived according by a commitment to God by faith.
One important caveat is the fact that Jesus is God’s physical revelation of His nature and will for our life and future. There is no excuse for immorality, injustice, deception, or unbelief in God.
Nevertheless, the promise to those who do belief and follow Jesus’ way of righteousness is fulfillment. God does keep His word. When we keep our part of the covenant, God will be able to fulfill His part. Because He does, our hunger and thirst for His righteous is satisfied. This is the same spiritual food Jesus ate (Jo. 4:24).
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live….
Isa. 55:1-3a (ESV)