Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Inheritors of the earth: the meek    (2/9/2014 1)

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"

After the Vikings occupied parts of Scotland and the North of England, they left behind more than their blond hair and blue eyes. Many ‘Old Norse’ words found their way into the common English language. One of these was the word we now know as ‘meek’ (mjok).

When the notably robust Vikings used it (according to Old Norse linguists), it had the flavour of ‘courteous, kind, gentle, humble’, and could equally be applied to powerful kings or peasant farmers. But in the 21st century Western world, it has become a negative word, associated with weakness and timidity, and thus to be corrected with assertiveness training.

Of course, when Jesus proclaimed ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’, it would have been a shock to many of his listeners, who would have seen that it seemed to be the rich and powerful who were blessed; the movers and shakers at the top; the teachers and religious leaders of the day.  

However, some of the more thoughtful listeners would hear echoes of the ancient scriptures that were read out every Sabbath. Two examples are:

  • Moses, the great leader of Israel — who was said to be ‘the most meek (or humble) man on the earth’ (Numbers [OT] chapter 12, verse 3). Where God’s honour was concerned, Moses was as bold as a lion, but in defence of his own he was as meek as a lamb. 
  • David (the great warrior-king), wrote about meekness in the worship song we now know as Psalm 37:
    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…
    Refrain from anger and turn from wrath…
    The meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Meekness tells us where a person is in relation to God; in a relationship of trust and love with him. The meek person does not take offence, seek revenge, harbour a grudge, or envy the short-term success of the wicked. Such a person has a true, not inflated, view of himself or herself.

Once again, Jesus himself is our example — he who healed the sick, raised people from the dead, fearlessly rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, boldy set his face to go to Jerusalem, knowing crucifixion awaited him there. This same Jesus made this offer to all would listen:

‘Take my yoke upon you and  learn from me for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will  find rest for our souls.’

But what does it mean that the meek will ‘inherit the earth'? 

That glad and willing submissiveness and trust in God are necessary for receiving and taking hold of God's promises. And it's not so much the land that's to be inherited, but the even greater blessings of God's Kingdom — the gifts now of contentment, fulfilment and richness of living as God always intended, and one day to be inheritors (Romans [OT], chapter 8 verse 17] with Jesus himself.

Pray: Lord, give me the courage to embrace your will for my life; the wisdom to fight for justice for others; the strength to be a useful servant of yours; and the willingness to learn the gentle and strong meekness of Jesus. Amen.

Think about: Do I actually want to be meek, like Jesus? As preacher Martin Lloyd Jones put it:”He deliberately humbled himself to the extent that he was dependent entirely upon what God gave him, what God taught him, and what God told him to do. We must be ready to learn and listen and especially must we surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit.”

Challenge: In one of his letters, the apostle Peter (who knew Jesus so well) gives us a glowing picture of what the meekness of Jesus was like. Read what he says in 1 Peter chapter 2, and especially verses 21-24.

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