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Beatitudes-Blessed are the Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)

Our world loves physical strength, political power, social influence, and monetary might.  It is a world defined by clichés – “might makes right,” “survival of the fittest,” “dog eat dog,” “every man for himself,” etc.  Because of this, people of the world do all they can to obtain more strength, power, influence, and money.  It is a sick game where the winners take all they can and the losers get the scraps.

However, the Lord once again contradicted the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of heaven as He gave His third beatitude.  Jesus declared the happy position of the meek, and He said that it was they who will inherit the earth rather than the rich and powerful.  Who are these meek persons, and in what way will they inherit the earth?  Let us examine the Scriptures to understand the meaning of the Lord’s words.

Meekness is a trait that the world does not understand.  Those who are meek do not seek to dominate others and assert themselves, but instead they are mild and deferential.  The world equates meekness with weakness, but these two traits are not the same.  Some have defined meekness as strength under control, and that is a good definition as long as we understand strength in Scriptural terms rather than worldly terms.  The word “meek” in Matthew 5:5 is translated from the Greek word praÿs (pronounced prä-ü’s), which occurs only four times in the New Testament.  This word describes mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, or meekness, and it is variously translated as “meek,” “humble,” and “gentle.”  The Hebrew equivalent to this Greek word is the word anav, which variously translated as “poor,” “humble,” “afflicted,” and “meek” in twenty six occurrences in the Old Testament.  The Scriptures always speak positively of those who are meek, humble, and gentle, and they are promised great blessings from God (see Ps. 22:26; 25:9; 37:11; 76:9; 147:6; 149:4; Isa. 29:19; 61:1; Zeph. 2:3).

Like most human traits, meekness is best understood by observing persons who possess the trait.  One such person was Moses, who, according to Numbers 12:3, “was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.”  To understand this, let us consider a few points from Moses’ life.  He could have been a great man in the eyes of the world, but instead he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).  He could have taken personal advantage of a situation when God planned to destroy Israel in His anger and make a great nation of Moses, but instead Moses interceded for Israel (Ex. 32:7-14).  He could have asserted himself when Miriam and Aaron rebelled against him, but he passively allowed God to exalt him while he interceded on their behalf (Num. 12).  These examples of Moses truly demonstrate what it is to be meek.

The greatest example of meekness is given by the Lord Himself.  The Son of God left the glory of heaven and selflessly came in the form of a bond-servant and in the likeness of man so that we could be saved (Phil. 2:5-8).  It was He who fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 – “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (Matt. 21:5).  Jesus showed tremendous control and restraint, for “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1Pet. 2:23).  By such meekness, Jesus appeals to us, for He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).  If the Almighty Son of God and Creator of the world could so humble Himself from His exalted position, then surely we can practice meekness also.

For those who will imitate the meek examples of Jesus and Moses, the Lord has promised an inheritance of the earth.  Because it is called an inheritance, it is evident that this is a blessing to be realized in the future.  The meek do not possess the earth today, but the earth of the future is a different matter.  The earth of the future that will be inherited by the meek is not the one in which we live today, for the present earth will be burned up (2Pet. 3:10-12).  Instead, the meek are “looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet. 3:13; see also Rev. 21:1).  This new earth is the inheritance of the meek, and the hope of this inheritance in the future gives the meek a great reason to be happy today.

Next: “Blessed are Those who Hunger and Thirst”

Stacey E. Durham




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