Thoughts on the Beatitudes (7) - Evan Gear

Matthew 5:5 — Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The meek.
That word is a bit foreign to us, is it not? I cannot remember the last time I either heard it used or used it myself in a sentence. It is one of those Bible words which we have become familiar with in the context of church but no longer use in reference to the “real” world. So, the verse – this statement – loses some of its power.
What then does meek mean?
I think a good way to translate the word is to use the phrase: “one who does not think much of himself.” I do not mean to say that a meek person is one who thinks himself small in stature or strength but one who does not often think about himself at all. His mind and attentions are outside, away from self. His eyes are upon others. The meek are in this sense very childlike. As a child looks out toward parents, friends, and the world so the meek look out upon God and his creative and redemptive acts.
It is fitting then that we read in Numbers 14:31 that the little ones are those who inherit the land. Speaking to the self-absorbed Israelites God says through the mouth of Moses: your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected.
We are so often like the Israelites. We think that the meek will become prey, that they will be eaten up by this world. So, we avoid meekness, we demean it. But it is they who shall know the land, as Numbers describes it. In the Greek translation of the passage the word used for land is the same as that used here in Matthew. The earth that Jesus speaks of here is the land promised so often to the people of the OT. This gives us some insight into the way that Christ understood that promise of land. It is more than the dirt of Palestine. In fact, it typifies or looks forward to the whole earthly orb as the inheritance of God’s people. One day, like the land of Israel in ancient times, the whole earth shall be the possession of the saints, God’s little children (1 John 5:21). Just as those little ones were led into the promised land so we the meek shall be led into the new heavens and the new earth. It is the grand fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham so long ago.
You will remember how Abraham bought a burial plot where he and his wife were buried (see Gen. 23). It is the only real portion of the land that he ever possessed as his own. In this we see that he was taught by the promise of the land and his possession of it in death alone that he must look away from himself and the days of his life for the fulfillment. He was instructed to set his gaze toward a coming day when what was promised would be given (see Heb. 11:10, 19). Beyond the horizon of his life the promise was coming. We are his children, little ones with him, when we follow that example — looking out, away from ourselves, beyond our short lives to One who is coming with the reward in his hand. The meek are they who think much of Him, their Savior who with resurrection glory and a sin free land is surely coming.
On that day, they with Abraham shall inherit the earth and it shall never be taken from them.
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