Thoughts on the Beatitudes (5) - Evan Gear

Bear with me as I draw out one last bit from the first of the beatitudes…
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The poor have the reward of their poverty (such an odd thing to say, for it is gift not earnings) the kingdom of heaven now. There is, present tense, the kingdom. Another way to translate it would be, “of them is the kingdom of heaven.” That is, they are its composition. It is a superstructure built of them as stones or bricks. And this is the very language of the Scripture in 1 Peter 2:5 (KJV), Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house… The language is similar to that of Hebrews 3 where Moses is described as part of the house of God. We share in that status with Moses for he goes on to write (Heb. 3:6), we are his house… Again, the present tense.
We are a spiritual house, his house. It is our blessing as those who are poor in spirit and it is ours now. I realize that the language of house and kingdom seems to differ but recall that the Scripture uses the terms synonymously. Take for example the promise given to David regarding his seed (2 Sam. 7:13): He [the promised seed] is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.It is a prophecy concerning Jesus, the son of David, who said I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The Lord goes on to speak to Peter about keys of the kingdom of heaven (v. 19). His house, the kingdom, the church — these are all ways that the Holy Spirit has chosen to describe that one reality that is the present inheritance of the poor in spirit. And it is theirs in as much as they are it.

Have you ever considered the regular Sunday gathering of God’s people as the very thing about which Jesus speaks here in Matthew 5:3? Certainly, that gathering is just that. It is the house of God, the kingdom of God, the church of God to, for, and of the poor in spirit. And it is that now. It is theirs and only theirs even though many gather around and with them. And, it follows, the first step into blessedness is a present commitment, a shifting of your weight upon the visible church. Poverty of spirit leads to the doors of the church and the present reality of the kingdom there for all who would come.

If you are not among the poor in spirit then that same gathering may be to you many things. It may be educational, inspirational, socially invigorating, psychologically encouraging, and all around helpful but it will never be the kingdom of heaven. At least not now. There is coming a day when what the church is to the poor in spirit it will be to all without exception and, in that day, this present blessing of the poor will be manifest to every eye, an eternal vindication and a judgment. In that day, all the other promises of blessing pronounced here in the Sermon on the Mount will be fulfilled. For while the first and last beatitude are present tense all the others are future (note the refrain: “they shall be…”). A firm hope is held out by our Lord for all the poor in spirit of whom now is the kingdom. It is a confidence that they, that we may rejoice in.

For Christ is faithful over God's house as a son; and we are his house, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (Heb. 3:6).
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