What Did Jesus Mean By Blessed Are The Meek For They Shall Inherit The Earth?
What is the meaning of Matthew 5:5? Many do not understand what meekness is, nor do they understand the blessing that comes to those who are meek. Meekness is not timidity, weakness, or cowardice. It does not mean that you let everyone walk over you like a welcome mat just whenever they want and however they want. While meekness does involve humility and gentleness, it is more than these two traits. In fact Jesus implies a distinction between humility and meekness in light of the fact that He already referred to humility ("poor in spirit", Matthew 5:3). Meekness is showing strength under control, specifically, God's control. Jesus in His own life was meek (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus even exemplified meekness in His life when He turned over the tables in the temple (at least twice, John 2:13-17; Matthew 21:12,13). He stood up for what was right and demanded obedience to God's law. He had placed Himself under God's control.
In Exodus 32, Moses took the golden calf idol Israel had made and worshipped and in meekness he destroyed it. After pouring the ashes of the disintegrated calf into the water, Moses even made the people drink the water. Since Moses' brother Aaron was put in charge of the nation and endorsed the people's sinful actions, Moses meekly rebuked his brother - not showing partiality to his own blood kin. Moses did not tolerate idolatry. He stood for what was right and demanded obedience to God's law. He had placed himself under God's control. In Numbers 12:1-3, Moses is called the meekest man in all the earth at that time because he recognized that God is in control.
Jesus is quoting from Psalm 37, especially verse 11 when he gives this beatitude: "But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." It is very important that we examine the whole context of this chapter in order to understand what the Bible means when it states, "the meek to inherit the earth."
The Psalmist commands that we do not fret nor be envious of those who commit evil (Psalm 37:1). We are to trust in the Lord, do good (Psalm 37:3), delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), commit our ways to Him (Psalm 37:5), rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7), cease from anger and forsake wrath (Psalm 37:8), show mercy and give (Psalm 37:21), depart from evil and do good (Psalm 37:27). The Psalmist states thrice (Psalm 37:9,11,22) that those who practice these commands will inherit the earth. He states in Psalm 37:29: "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever." In Psalm 37:34: "Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it."
This passage cannot be speaking of the physical nation of Israel inheriting the land of Palestine again since it was finally taken away from them in A.D. 70 when the temple and city of Jerusalem were destroyed.
The text does say though that the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever (Psalm 37:29). In God's promise to Abraham of the land (Genesis 12:1-3), it was evident that he was speaking of more than the land of Canaan (Genesis 22:17,18; 26:3-4). He was speaking of a "new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13; Romans 8:18-25; Hebrews 11:13-16). Romans 4:13 states that "For the promise that he [Abraham] would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
The land promise would thus become fulfilled in the consummated new creation that God is going to give the faithful (the meek) at the end of time. Therefore, Jesus' promised blessing to the meek (which under the New Testament would be the faithful Christian who places himself/herself under God's control) in Matthew 5:5 is the eternal bliss of the "new heavens and earth", that is, the place where all the faithful enjoy eternal life with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the faithful angels and all of God's faithful people of all ages.
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