Seek God's Face, Not His Hand
When trouble plagues your life, deepen your relationship with God. Don't ask for a handout.

LINDA VALDIVIA asks: i WILL LIKE TO READ MATHEW 5:6 Chritian women a servant of the most high.
Question about A Personal Question: I need help
Motivation - Trouble: Personal crisis
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 95, Sunday, 15-Apr-2012]

Clicking Ask a Question on this web site brings up a form with plenty of space for entering a specific Bible question. In addition, the form records what you think about the Bible. You can choose between the following options: The Bible is ...

  • nothing special; it is a book just like any other book
  • a piece of ancient literature that is worthy of study
  • a document upon which much of Western civilization is built
  • a respected guidebook for Jewish and Christian religions
  • the accurate and authoritative Word of God speaking to mankind

Linda chooses the last option, as do I. Unlike most people, Linda and I elevate the Bible to the most lofty position in our lives, the Word of God. Not only does it contain the wisdom of the ages for all mankind, it presents God's communication with us, directly into our personal lives today. If you have a lesser view of the Bible, both Linda and I think you are missing a great and profound blessing in your life.

Linda is going through a time of personal crisis (another question we ask). She does not tell us what the crisis is about, but we know she is turning to God for comfort and answers. In this setting -- the Word of God providing comfort and answers to a personal crisis -- we look at the verse Linda requests: Matthew 5:6.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Matthew 5:6 [NASB]

About the best way to get the most help from this verse is to first consider the context, i.e., the surrounding verses, chapters and books, and then look at the meanings of individual words. After that, we try to integrate what we find into a summary that applies to our current situation. But we are not done; there are two more steps: (1) do what the Bible says, and (2) tell people about the results. The sequence

  • learn
  • do
  • tell

appears over and over again in the Bible. That's the God-prescribed formula.

Context

Linda's verse appears in the beatitudes near the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, an important and detailed message about the inward qualities and outward behavior Jesus expects of His followers. In His sermon, Jesus sets the bar very high. He expects essential perfection from people who label themselves with His name. If you are a Christian, use the Sermon on the Mount to guide your minute-by-minute thoughts and your day-by-day activities. If you are not a Christian, use the Sermon on the Mount to understand what God requires of you. It is a tall order.

The Sermon on the Mount starts in Matthew 5 and continues through chapters 6 and 7. There are several parts, as follows:

  1. The beatitudes or the blessings of being right with God
  2. Christ's disciples as the salt of the earth and light of the world
  3. Jesus' teaching on the Law of God, i.e., on the Old Testament
  4. About anger
  5. About adultery
  6. About divorce
  7. About swearing
  8. About dealing with enemies
  9. About giving money
  10. About prayer and fasting
  11. Encouragement to depend on God in all situations
  12. The Golden Rule
  13. How to live a happy and fulfilled life

Not for everyone - The Sermon on the Mount is not for everyone. It is only for people who name the Name of Jesus Christ as their Master, or for people who might name Him in the near future. If this is not you, there are plenty of other Bible passages which you can read. AFTB recommends the books of Genesis, Psalms, John, and Revelation for anyone just starting out with Bible study. That is the beginning, the end, and some books in between!

You can tell that the Sermon on the Mount is not for everyone by reading its introductory verses:

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them ...
- Matthew 5:1ff [NASB]
Ten Commandments
The New Testament strengthens the Ten Commandments. Some people think it eliminates them. It does not!

Notice how Jesus avoids the crowd and waits for His disciples to come to Him. The Sermon on the Mount is for people like Linda, separate from normal crowds and eager to learn.

The New Testament and the Old Testament - On a wider scale, Linda's verse, Matthew 5:6, is part of the New Testament, that is, the part of the Bible written after Jesus lived, died, and rose again around the year 30 AD. The New Testament is an extension of the Old Testament, so Matthew 5:6 is part of a continuation the original Jewish Old Testament Scriptures that originated at the time of Moses (about 1500 BC) with dates as far back as the time of Abraham (about 2000 BC) and earlier.

There are those who think that the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament. This is not true. In fact, the New Testament strengthens the Old Testament, it does not contradict it. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 5:17, 11 verses after Linda's verse Matthew 5:6.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
- Matthew 5:17ff [NASB]

In Matthew 5:17 above, Jesus refers to the Old Testament as The Law and the Prophets. These are the two major components of the Old Testament. The Law is the Law of Moses or the Mosaic Covenant which is summarized by The Ten Commandments. The Prophets are those men of God who taught and preached during Old Testament times. Many prophets predicted future events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the birth of the Messiah, and the end of the world. Jesus says that He came to fulfill both the Law and the Prophets, which He did in the New Testament and is still doing today.

Meaning of Words

The Beatitudes record nine different groups of people who are blessed by God. The first group is the poor in spirit:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:3, NASB]

The poor in spirit are those who are the opposite of the haughty or proud in spirit. According to the Bible, the if you are not haughty or proud, you are blessed by God. But what, exactly, does the word blessed mean? If we look at the Greek version of the Bible (the New Testament was originally written in Greek), the word translated to the English blessed is the Greek word makarios, which Strong's Greek dictionary defines as

makarios - fortunate, well off, happy

so people who are blessed are fortunate, well off, and happy. Linda, along with millions of other people in this world who are suffering, can use a little blessing at the time of her current trial. Being poor in spirit is one component that brings God's happiness. There are 8 more components in the Beatitudes, and the fourth component is hungering and thirsting after righteousness:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6, NASB]

The Greek word for righteousness comes from dikaios, which means

dikaios - equitable (evenhanded, fair, reasonable, impartial, just, unbiased) in character or act; by implication innocent, holy, just, meet, right

so in the Bible righteousness is a legal term that specifies a person's standing in a court of law. A person is either guilty (unrighteous) or innocent (righteous), and, according to Matthew 5:6, if you yearn to be found innocent, you will be happy (blessed) and you will obtain it (be satisfied). This is an amazing promise. Happiness comes from desiring right standing in God's court of law. So does salvation.

Bringing It Together

After considering the meaning of the Bible words in their Bible context, Matthew 5:6 comes together as follows:

  • There are ways to be happy, even in the middle of crisis and hardship
  • These ways are not for everyone, but for people who place themselves at God's feet
  • Seeking right standing before God and His Law is one of the ways to be happy

When we are in trouble it is natural to ask God to get us out of it. 'Oh, God, please heal my sickness!' 'Fix my finances!' 'Make my marriage good again!' 'God, come down from heaven and meet my need!' There is nothing wrong with praying like this, and there are Bible passages that encourage us to ask God for His favor (e.g., Luke 18:3-8). But Jesus taught something better, and more effective, in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught, first and foremost, to seek God Himself. Other benefits come second:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
- Matthew 6:33 [NASB]

Obtaining righteousness in God's court of Law is different than obtaining it in a human court. To be found innocent in a human court, you must present your case and the judge and jury must rule in your favor. If this were required by God, we would all be found guilty. None of us has kept the Ten Commandments and, to drive that point home, Jesus makes the Ten Commandments even more difficult to keep in the Sermon on the Mount (see, for example, Matthew 5:21-22).

Courtroom
The courtroom of heaven is even more imposing that this one. God judges based on His perfect Law, and we are all guilty. Were it not for His mercy and grace, no one could find righteousness.

God's heart is not moved by human need. If it were, there would be no famines, no earthquakes, no suffering. The Bible teaches, from cover to cover, that God's heart is moved by only one thing: faith. If you believe in God, He grants you righteousness. This is seen throughout the Bible, even as far back as Abraham in the book of Genesis:

Then he (Abram) believed in the LORD; and He (God) reckoned it to him as righteousness.
- Genesis 15:6 [NASB]

To hunger and thirst after righteousness means to earnestly believe in God. If you do, the Bible says you will be happy and satisfied.

Now What?

Now here is your answer, Linda. And here is the answer for millions of other people who are in personal crisis. Seek God's face. Tell Him you believe in Him. Submit your life to Him. Read the Bible to build your faith (Romans 10:17). Remember what He has done for you in the past. How has he helped you before? Count -- literally count -- your blessings. Ponder the Cross of Jesus Christ, and how it fulfills God's Law and demonstrates God's love for you and for everyone in the world. Concentrate on God because he is your loving protector and provider, not because He can solve your problem. Praise Him in speech and song. Listen to godly music. Look up to Him. Tell God you love Him. Remember God loves you. Love Him back!

We hope your trouble passes quickly, Linda. Seeking God's face, not His hand, will get you through to the other side. It will give you inner peace in the time of adversity. Write to us, and let us know how you are doing.

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 22:32:34 GMT, unknown: 642721 ABXJiL1LAPykc
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