Happy are the Pursued…

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Matthew 5:10-11 ESV

Years ago, a recruiter contacted me because he saw my resume online. He called asking me to come in for an interview for a state-of-the-art histology lab in Cleveland–even offering me the salary I desired.

This company pursued me for my skills.

We use the word pursue in many ways. Pursue is one of those words which has a negative or positive meaning.

Matthew 5:10 uses the Hebrew word radaph (pronounced raw-daf’) for persecuted. It means to run after (usually with hostile intent; –chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute(-ion, -or), pursue(-r).

As I sit here writing these words my mind is going in many directions as far as where to take this post. I haven’t written much in the hours I have sat in front of this laptop! I feel the Lord taking me in a direction I really didn’t intend to go.

And that direction is the topic of persecution.

Persecution is not too far off in our future. You don’t have to be a prophet to know that.

As I read and re-read related verses these stuck out to me most:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

John 15:18 ESV

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

John 15:20 ESV

If we’re honest, we recognize the signs of the times. It won’t be long before every sold-out Christian/Jesus-lover will be insulted, falsely accused, and/or persecuted.

In this Beatitude, Jesus said people will persecute us for the sake of righteousness and Him. What does that mean?

I’m sure you understand what Jesus meant.

But, I can’t help but think of another verse right now.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Matt. 7:21-23 ESV

Why will Jesus say to many, who have cast out demons, prophesied, and done mighty things, “I never knew you”? Because they did not do the will of the Father.

The will of the Father includes being sexually moral and pure. It is holiness. When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! It is every characteristic Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes.

When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! #HappyarethePursued #ThisSideofHeaven #TheBeatitudes

We live in a world where it is not politically correct to talk about Jesus or to tell people they are sinners. If we want, we can find a church and Bible version that suits our worldview. Many claim to be Christians. But are all who claim that title, righteous?

So, what does it mean to be righteous?

In my post on the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” I explained righteousness this way:

Tsedeq [the Hebrew word for righteousness] has the idea that desperate people like those who are starving or dying of thirst will hunt for God’s righteousness or justice as a person would for food and water.

Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Here is the way Jeff A. Brenner describes righteousness. But, let me say this first, evil, according to the Hebrew language, is to depart from God’s way–righteousness is the exact opposite.

A righteous person is not one who lives a religiously pious life, [which is] the common interpretation of this word, he is one who follows the correct path, the path (way) of God.

https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/righteous.htm

The CORRECT path and way.

Jesus is that way and the Father puts us on the path of His choosing. The only way to be righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus. The only way to know God’s path and to avoid departing from it is to be in the Word.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 ESV

Who or what do we love the most? That is who we worship. What is the promise in this Beatitude? The Kingdom of Heaven.

Going back to the title of this post…Why are the pursued/persecuted happy? Because they know Who they belong to. This world will persecute those who stand for God’s truth and ways.

I can’t think of a better verse to demonstrate how Jesus’ disciples lived out this Beatitude.

The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:4 NLT

Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

We are continuing our series in the Beatitudes. Today, we will examine the fourth Beatitude found in Matthew 5:6. You can go back and read the last three posts if you haven’t already.

We didn’t have much growing up. My father had a stroke that paralyzed him on his right side. With a fairly young family, he could now, no longer work. My mom had five girls to care for at that time, so it was difficult for her to work outside the home.

We had a farm, so we helped plant, water, and weed our large garden and played outside all day in the nice weather.

By the time mom made dinner, we were all ready to eat. We always seemed to have enough food, though. My dad would never take seconds until he was sure the rest of us were full. I’m sure there were days when he went to bed a bit hungry for our sake.

The hunger mentioned in Matthew 5:6 is not this kind of hunger, but means a poor person who works to fend off starvation. The Hebrew word for this kind of hunger is reab and it means famine, dearth (the scarcity of something), and hunger.

I can only hope I seek out God like a person starving for Him. I believe many who are persecuted in their countries probably could teach us about that…but I’m not sure that is the norm here in the U.S.

The word thirst, in Hebrew, is an interesting word. It, as well as the word for righteousness, begin with the Hebrew letter tsade.

צ

It has the sound of the letters Ts, like the end of the word pots. The ancient Hebrew letter looked like this:

In the Hebrew language, the letters have names as you can see, and the names have meanings. So, the meaning of the word tsade is “to hunt, catch, or capture.” However, the letter in the ancient Hebrew, looks like a man bent in a position as a servant with his hands lifted up to the Lord in humility. https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Tsade/tsade.html

Another scholar describes the tsade as a servant carrying a burden and suggests this letter is most like Christ as we see Him in the scriptures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG7RIw9IJsc

See how this and all the Beatitudes comes back to Christ-likeness?

Many years ago, my church had a Bible study which suggested we practice brokenness. I asked the Lord how I could practice something I wasn’t feeling. He spoke to my heart and said, “Get on your knees.” Since that day, I prayed on my knees alone in my room.

How would you practice brokenness?

The word for thirst consist of the letter tsade and the letter mem, meaning water. So, this kind of thirst means to hunt for water, in the pictorial Hebrew.

Within this Beatitude, we have a picture of a person who is desperate for food and water, not just hungry and thirsty. Remember I told you there is a reason the Beatitudes begin with “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

Within this Beatitude, we have a picture of a person who is desperate for food and water, not just hungry and thirsty. #ThisSideofHeaven #Beatitudes #HungerandThirst

Now, for the word righteousness. This was where I started my research, actually.

It is the word, tsedeq. As I said above, it begins with the same Hebrew letter as thirst. And, just like that word, the first letter of tsedeq means, “to hunt, catch, or capture.”

Tsedeq means righteous, but can also mean justice.

We find this word also used in many Old Testament verses. The bold word is tsedeq.

Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 20:16

You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:36

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.

Psalm 7:17

So, tsedeq has the idea that desperate people like those who are starving or dying of thirst will hunt for God’s righteousness or justice as a person would for food and water.

Hebrew4Christians explains it like this: “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness means relying on God alone to meet our need.” https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Brit_Chadashah/Beatitudes/beatitudes.html

But, unlike many who are starving for food and water in this world, the promise from God for those who are truly seeking Him is “They will be satisfied.”

God wants us to seek Him like our lives depend on it…because they do. We need Him more than He needs us.

But, He. Does. Want. Us. The Creator of all things wants to have a relationship with you and me. The Beatitudes tell us how to do that.

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By the way, you may wonder where I get Hebrew words when the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek. Well, the Gospels were first written in Hebrew. After many years, these manuscripts have finally been published, so that you can now purchase the New Testament Gospels written in Hebrew on one page with the English translation on the page facing it. It’s pretty cool, but I like that sort of thing.

I realize I have changed the days I am publishing my blog posts. I am going to stay with Wednesdays since another blog I contribute to (called VineWords, Devotions and More at http://www.VineWords.net) has my posts coming out on Thursdays, so I don’t want both coming out on the same day of the week. Thank you!