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Beatitudes Lesson Five               

Beatitudes Lesson Five
Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

“Blessed are those who ______ and _____ for _____________, for they shall be satisfied.”
(Matthew 5:6)

“Hunger and thirst . . .. . . . .” When we think of experiencing “hunger” or “being thirsty” in our nation today we generally think about missing a meal, or not getting as much to eat as we would like. But what does it truly mean to be hungry or thirsty? Is it more than a temporary circumstance of discomfort due to a minor inconvenience? When we think of those who are truly hungry upon this earth, should we not in reality picture those who face a daily fight for survival because they are uncertain if or in what way their hunger may possibly be satisfied? However, that is an entirely different picture of “hunger” than is often generated in the minds of most Americans.

Hunger and thirst express a strong desire, a strong need to see righteousness achieved, not only in one's own personal life, but also in all things. This beatitude describes a nature, which causes God's people to continually seek to live a life of virtue before God, and long for a day of final judgment when God will make all things just and right. For those who possess this characteristic, the thought of going “unfed” (spiritually) is distressing. Just how important is obtaining righteousness to this reader?

Nothing better would express the strong desire we should have for righteousness than hunger and thirst. An ardent desire for anything is often represented in the Sciptures as hungering and thirsting. The Psalmist so beautifully wrote, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psa. 42:1-2). The sweet singer in Israel also said, "O God, thou art my God; earnestly will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and weary land, where no water is. So have I looked upon thee in the sanctuary, To see thy power and thy glory" (Psa. 63:1-2). When one walks through a dry land and is in great thirst, there is but one thing on his mind - water. We need to have this same desire for righteousness. Just as we hunger for physical food, we must hunger for spiritual nourishment (Blessed Are They Which Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness By Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_hunger_thirst.html).

“for righteousness” Jesus develops the theme of righteousness throughout the Sermon on the Mount, unveiling what appears to be a `new' righteousness unlike that with which the hearers have been familiar. As Chouinard and Cottrell wrote concerning Matthew 5:20, “The righteousness exceeding the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law is anchored in the revelation of God's will as revealed in Jesus. It is both qualitatively and quantitatively different from a “righteousness” grounded in the minutia of Law keeping. Because the “greater righteousness” is patterned after God's own character (cf. f=Mt+5%3A45" 5:45), not legal niceties, its practice can truly extend to every aspect of one's life. The Pharisaic model of legal observance only results in a superficial righteousness oriented toward human recognition (cf. ooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Mt+6%3A1-4" 6:1-4), thus leading to hypocritical pride (23:10). Entry into God's eschatological reign depends upon the practice of “righteousness” as taught by Jesus. What it means to exhibit such a “righteousness” is forcefully illustrated by the examples to follow [5:21-48] (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

In other words, Jesus speaks concerning a righteousness that comes from within, from the heart, not merely an outward act of obedience. Outward obedience is splendid, but only if it emanates from the heart of one who loves the Lord. Such righteousness is that which those who are of the kingdom of God seek.

Tom Moore writes, “Jesus instructs us that we are to hunger and thirst after "righteousness." But what is righteousness? The Psalmist declared, "Let my tongue sing of thy word; For all thy commandments are righteousness" (Psa. 119:172). David clearly informs us that righteousness is equal to the commands of God. These commands, of course, are found in the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). It should be no surprise to us that the word of God is many times described as food in holy writ. "For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food'” [Heb. 5:12] (Blessed Are They Which Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness By Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_hunger_thirst.html).

“for they shall be satisfied” When we understand hunger and thirst, as they exist in the life of the truly needy, we will understand this passage much more clearly. For a thirsty man to be satisfied, he needs a drink of water. For one who thirsts after righteousness, his thirst will not be quenched without the living water (John 4:10,11). For one who hungers after righteousness, he will never be satisfied without the bread of life (John 6:48). There is no greater satisfaction for those who hunger and thirst after the manna of righteousness than the pure and wholesome Word of God (1 Peter 2:2-3)!

Jesus Himself is God's answer to our deepest need for righteousness. We must come to Him as empty pitchers to a full fountain to be filled. God's ability to supply always exceeds our demand, but He supplies in proportion to our demand. Thus, God judges us by the dreams that drive us, quite as much as by our few accomplishments. If we keep our zest for godly living, our enthusiasm for being His and doing His will, He will see to it that we have the strength and opportunity to be truly righteous, and best of all, His forgiveness when we fail. Thus, His filling is in a large measure based upon our putting ourselves in a position to be filled (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

Happiness in our relationship to God
Jesus says that happiness can be found where there is poverty. The word translated “poor” is the word which denotes absolute poverty. It describes not the condition of having a little, but of having nothing. It is not financial poverty that Jesus has in mind, but spiritual poverty. We must learn to admit our need and to recognize the only one who can fill it.
Jesus says that happiness can be found where there is weeping. There is a hidden blessing in mourning. If our heart can be broken, then we know we have a heart. Those who cannot mourn cannot love either. It is better to have a broken heart than no heart at all.
Jesus says happiness can be found where there is submission. To the modern mind meekness is a quality to avoid. Meekness is not for the faint-hearted or timid.
Jesus says happiness can be found where there is hunger. The hunger referred to here is not the rumble of a missed meal, but the gnawing hunger that results from deprivation. It is not literal hunger, of course, but a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Sermon Outlines for Seekers, Original work copyright © 1996 The Standard Publishing Company).


Discussion Questions

1) Describe “hunger and thirst” as used in the context of verse six.

As alluded to in the article, true hungering and thirsting is not a minor inconvenience, but a condition that changes the daily motivation of the distressed. It causes a deep and necessary concern for the daily needs of the one that is in this condition. Other Scripture that teaches this same lesson:

Psalms 42:1-2, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?” (NAS).

Psalms 63:1-2, “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, To see Thy power and Thy glory” (NAS).

Interestingly, the enemies of God's people do not have the promise of having their hunger and thirst quenched. Isaiah 29:8, “And it will be as when a hungry man dreams-- And behold, he is eating; But when he awakens, his hunger is not satisfied, Or as when a thirsty man dreams-- And behold, he is drinking, But when he awakens, behold, he is faint, And his thirst is not quenched. Thus the multitude of all the nations shall be, Who wage war against Mount Zion” (NAS).

HUNGER (23 Times):

John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (NAS).

Matthew 25:35, “'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in” (NAS).

Romans 12:20, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head” (NAS).

Philippians 4:12, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (NAS).

Revelation 7:16, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat” (NAS).

THIRST (16 Times):

John 4:13-15, “Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. " 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw” (NAS).

John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (NAS).

Matthew 25:35, “'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in” (NAS).

John 19:28, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty” (NAS).

Romans 12:20, “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head” (NAS).

Revelation 7:16, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat” (NAS).

2) Could we be described as “hungry” and “thirsty”?

Each one will have to answer that for yourself. However, there are obvious signs that the church lacks this passionate desire. A lack of:

knowledge
study
concern for obeying God's will
priorities
zeal for winning the lost from this evil world
other symptoms . . . . . . . . .


3) What do the scriptures have to say about righteousness? Can we ever really be righteous?

dikaiosune NT:1343 is "the character or quality of being right or just"; it was formerly spelled "rightwiseness," which clearly expresses the meaning. It is used to denote an attribute of God, e. g., Rom 3:5, the context of which shows that "the righteousness of God" means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises; Rom 3:25,26 speaks of His "righteousness" as exhibited in the death of Christ, which is sufficient to show men that God is neither indifferent to sin nor regards it lightly. On the contrary, it demonstrates that quality of holiness in Him which must find expression in His condemnation of sin (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

"Dikaiosune is found in the sayings of the Lord Jesus, (a) of whatever is right or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God, Matt 5:6,10,20; John 16:8,10; (b) whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man, Matt 3:15; 21:32; (c) the sum total of the requirements of God, Matt 6:33; (d) religious duties, Matt 6:1 (distinguished as almsgiving, man's duty to his neighbor, vv. 2,3,4, prayer, his duty to God, vv. 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, fasting, the duty of self-control, vv. 16,17,18) (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

Paragraphs 4, and 5:

Jesus develops the theme of righteousness throughout the Sermon on the Mount, unveiling what appears to be a `new' righteousness unlike that with which the hearers have been familiar. As Chouinard and Cottrell wrote concerning Matthew 5:20, “The righteousness exceeding the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law is anchored in the revelation of God's will as revealed in Jesus. It is both qualitatively and quantitatively different from a “righteousness” grounded in the minutia of Law keeping. Because the “greater righteousness” is patterned after God's own character (cf. 5:45), not legal niceties, its practice can truly extend to every aspect of one's life. The Pharisaic model of legal observance only results in a superficial righteousness oriented toward human recognition (cf. 6:1-4), thus leading to hypocritical pride (23:10). Entry into God's eschatological reign depends upon the practice of “righteousness” as taught by Jesus. What it means to exhibit such a “righteousness” is forcefully illustrated by the examples to follow (5:21-48) (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

In other words, Jesus speaks concerning a righteousness that comes from within, from the heart, not merely an outward act of obedience. Outward obedience is splendid, but only if it emanates from the heart of one who loves the Lord. Such righteousness is that which those who are of the kingdom of God seek.

Psalms 119:172, “Let my tongue sing of Thy word, For all Thy commandments are righteousness” (NAS).

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (NAS).

Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (NAS).

1 John 3:7-10, “Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (NAS).

1 Peter 3:14, “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled” (NAS).

1 Peter 2:24 says that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (NAS).

Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11 and in 2 Timothy 2:22 to “pursue righteousness.”

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (NAS).

CAN WE EVER BE RIGHTEOUS?

First, our faith is “reckoned to us as righteousness” (Romans 4:3-13). Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (NAS).

Rom 5:17-21, “For if by the transgression of the one (Adam), death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (NAS)

We have the GIFT of imputed righteousness.

Secondly, we perform “works of righteousness” as a result of the gift of salvation that God has bestowed upon us (Romans 6:12-23). Romans 6:12-13, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (NAS).

And finally, there will be God's justice and righteousness when Jesus returns. In fact, Chouinard and Cottrell believe that Matthew 5:6 is in reference to the end times and God's final righteous judgment. I quote:

“The object of their yearning is righteousness (dikaiosuvnh, dikaiosynç). The term is an important concept in Matthew's Gospel especially as it is developed in the SM (see 5:20; 6:1; YPERLINK "http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Mt+6%3A33" 6:33). However, the precise connotation suggested by the word has been the subject of some dispute. Does the term in 5:6 suggest a personal pursuit of conduct in keeping with the will of God, or as proposed by others, does it express the deep longing of the downtrodden and oppressed for the manifestation of God's eschatological justice. Given the immediate context and the apparent background of Isaiah 61 it seems that greater weight should be given to the latter. Nevertheless, the desire for personal righteousness is never far removed from genuine eschatological hope (cf. 5:20; 6:33)” (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

This would not be outside of the understanding of this passage of Scripture, as we should all seek and desire for God to make all things right. In fact, Paul told the Thessalonians that Jesus would return and carry out that very action of justice.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (NAS).


4) How will those who “hunger” and “thirst” be satisfied?

Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (NAS).

First. They shall be satisfied by knowing that they are righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ, having obeyed Him in Christian baptism through faith. Therefore they are justified by faith. As Christians, we stand before God as pure and righteous. It is not a righteousness of our own, but a gift from God.

Second. They shall be satisfied as they serve their Lord faithfully and to the best of their ability. Having done all that they can do to live for Him as righteous and holy servants of God.

Third. They shall be satisfied upon the Day when Jesus returns and sets all things in order. He will judge every man according to his deeds. All will stand before Him at the great wedding feast, either in robes of white or soiled garments. He will stand before all as the righteous Judge.

Even in his “satisfaction” God's child will be humbled by the realization that he or she doesn't deserve to where the name “righteous.”

5) What is significant about the first four beatitudes found here in the Sermon on the Mount?

All four of these deal first and foremost with our relationship with God. As in the last part of the article:

Happiness in our relationship to God
       Jesus says that happiness can be found where there is poverty. The word translated “poor” is the word which denotes absolute poverty. It describes not the condition of having a little, but of having nothing. It is not financial poverty that Jesus has in mind, but spiritual poverty. We must learn to admit our need and to recognize the only one who can fill it.
       Jesus says that happiness can be found where there is weeping. There is a hidden blessing in mourning. If our heart can be broken, then we know we have a heart. Those who cannot mourn cannot love either. It is better to have a broken heart than no heart at all.
       Jesus says happiness can be found where there is submission. To the modern mind meekness is a quality to avoid. Meekness is not for the faint-hearted or timid.
       Jesus says happiness can be found where there is hunger. The hunger referred to here is not the rumble of a missed meal, but the gnawing hunger that results from deprivation. It is not literal hunger, of course, but a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Sermon Outlines for Seekers, Original work copyright © 1996 The Standard Publishing Company. All rights reserved).


What are you eating and drinking?



Beatitudes Lesson One   |   Beatitudes Lesson Two   |   Beatitudes Lesson Three   |   Beatitudes Lesson Four   |   Beatitudes Lesson Five   |   Beatitudes Lesson Six   |   Beatitudes Lesson Seven   |   Beatitudes Lesson Eight   |   Beatitudes Lesson Nine   |   Beatitudes Lesson Ten



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