Summary: The righteousness of God - how to receive this.
Words do not exist in isolation; they exist against a background of experience and thought; and the meaning of any word is conditioned by the background of the person who speaks it and also conditioned by the person who hears it. This is particularly true of this beatitude. It would convey to those who heard it for the first time an impression quite different from the impression which it conveys to us.
As we look at the Sermon on the Mount, we find that it is a masterful presentation of the conditions for entering the Kingdom of God and the characteristics of those who are in His kingdom. But His presentation is not exactly what the people expected. He was offering them happiness in a way they had never heard in their lives and consequently it fascinated them. And by the time He was done, they were more than fascinated. They were absolutely astonished at what He had said. And so our Lord is offering real happiness, real blessedness, but it is the kind of blessedness that only comes by being a part of His kingdom.
To enter the kingdom, you must be poor in spirit. And as you live in the kingdom you continue recognize your spiritual poverty. In order to enter the kingdom, you must mourn over your sin. And as you continue living in the kingdom as a son of God, you will mourn over your sin. In order to enter the kingdom, you must come in meekness, not pride. A proud man can’t enter, and once you’re in the kingdom, meekness continues to be your attitude as you look at God and as God becomes more and more wonderful as you study and learn more. And in order to enter the kingdom, you must hunger and thirst after righteousness. And once you’re in the kingdom, you’ll continue to hunger and thirst for more of that same righteousness. So it is both a condition for entrance and a characteristic of living in the kingdom.
Now let’s look at verse 6, for this particular aspect. “Blessed are they who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness for they shall be filled.” Now, this Beatitude speaks of a very strong desire. It speaks of a driving pursuit. It speaks of a passionate force inside of us, an ambition, if you will. And ambition is a word that can be used in a good sense. It also can be used in a bad sense. There are a lot of things that people strive for and pursue and have a passion for and have ambition to see fulfilled, and there are a lot of strong desires that are perverted, that go in the wrong way.
For example: I think of Lucifer. Lucifer was God’s most glorious creation. The most wonderful creature that God ever made. And Lucifer had a consuming, resolute ambition. He had a passion that was really a driving force within his mind. What was it? In Isaiah 14:13-14 it tells us what the passion of Lucifer was. You said to yourself, “I will climb up to the sky. Above the stars of El ,I will set up my throne. I will rule on the mountain of assembly, on the remote slopes of Zaphon. I will climb up to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High!” (NET) His ambition was to be like God. He was hungry, but he was – mark it – power hungry. He had a resolute ambition and a consuming passion but it was for power. And in the response of God, we see God says, " But you were brought down to Sheol, to the remote slopes of the pit. You’ll not realize your ambition.”
And then there was Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of Babylon, the greatest of all the world empires. Nebuchadnezzar had a strong desire. In Daniel chapter 4, it tells us of his desire in verse 30. the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence and to display my majestic glory? ”
If Lucifer was power hungry, then Nebuchadnezzar was praise hungry. So hungry was he that he praised himself and God reacted. While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you. You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants.” Dan. 4:31-32
Lucifer was power hungry and Nebuchadnezzar was praise hungry. And neither of them ever saw the fulfillment of their ambition.