Moses stood on the side of a mountain and delivered commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) to help God’s people behave. Jesus sat on the side of a mountain and delivered descriptions (Matthew 5:3-12) to help God’s people become His representatives. There’s an obvious comparison between the two. In fact, some people say Jesus is a second Moses.* (More about this connection in the introduction to this series, Blessed Are: Ten Commandments Turned Inside Out). Between the two Moseses, prophets, kings, leaders, and at least one simple widow show us all that God’s grand plan has always been about who we are more than what we do. Jesus was just the first to spell it out.
God’s grand plan has always
been about who we are more
than what we do.
Here at Not About Me, we began this year questioning whether the Beatitudes were as radical as we’ve always thought they were. (Again, check out the introductory post.) I wondered if perhaps some of Jesus’ listeners, there in 1st-century Galilee, would have immediately connected Jesus’ descriptions to people they had studied in the Law and Prophets. I had a “sneaking suspicion,” as we say in East Tennessee, but I wasn’t sure we could prove my hypothesis. I call it Seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament.
We will never know for sure that someone in Jesus’ crowd thought about these ancient men and women, but now we know they could have. We know there are Old Testament examples for every beatitude! In fact, there are multiple examples for most of them.
Every beatitude describes a state
of being then something spiritual
which results from that state.
Not only do we have examples of meakness, mourning, mercy, etc., but we also see proof of the connected promises. Every beatitude describes a state of being then something spiritual which results from that state. The same connection holds true in our Old Testament examples!
Maybe you’ve read the Beatitudes too many times. Maybe you even memorized them as a kid. When that happens to me, I like to open The Message for a fresh take. Below, I have summarized our conclusions for the year and followed them with the corresponding verses in The Message.
Here are the results:
- The poor in spirit: Isaiah who, when faced with glory of God, moaned that he was unworthy to be in the presence of God (by Rachel Schmoyer).
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. -Matthew 5:3 MSG
- Those who mourn: Jeremiah, whose heart broke at Israel’s unrepentance and consequent coming devastation.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. -Matthew 5:4 MSG
- The meek: Ruth, who chose service over her personal rights.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. -Matthew 5:5 MSG
- The hungry and thirsty: Huldah, whose passion for righteousness guided King Josiah into obedience (by Leigh Powers).
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. -Matthew 5:6 MSG
- The merciful: Abraham, who pleaded with God to spare Lot and his family even after Lot took all the best land and spent his time among the worst-of-the-worst.
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. -Matthew 5:7 MSG
- The pure-hearted: Joseph, who stayed faithful to God regardless of his circumstances.
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. -Matthew 5:8 MSG
- The peacemakers: Melchizedek, the King of Salem (literally “King of Peace”), who refused to battle with his neighboring city-states, sharing snacks instead.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. -Matthew 5:9 MSG
- The persecuted: 100 prophets of the Lord, who hid from Jezebel in a couple of caves and found fellowship there.
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. -Matthew 5:10 MSG
- The insulted: King David, who was insulted by his family as well as his enemies, yet continued to praise God (by Carla Pollard).
Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. -Matthew 5:11-12
The truth is too close for comfort. This line reminds me of a recent post, Some People Aren’t Gonna Like You. The prophets were persecuted for telling the truth, for living according to their convictions, and sometimes we will be too.
I hope these dips into the Old Testament, from the point-of-view of the Sermon on the Mount, have encouraged you in whatever challenges the Lord has placed before you this year.
We were Seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament, and we found them all! Beautiful connections between the O.T. and N.T., via @Carole_Sparks. Because my #blessings are #NotAboutMe. (click to tweet)
What Old Testament figure would you have used as an example of a Beatitude? It’s not too late to share! Otherwise, tell us which of these posts was most meaningful for you. Just leave a comment below.
I am also taking suggestions for a 2020 series. Email or message me if you have a Biblical/theological issue you’d like me to tackle…because it’s Not About Me.
*Here’s a whole article on Jesus as a Second Moses, as portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/is-jesus-a-second-moses (I’m not Catholic, by the way.)