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Blessed are the Merciful, Pure in Heart Matt. 5:7,8

August 10, 2014 Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 5:7–5:8

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Matt. 5:1-11 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

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

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

One of the blogs I enjoy checking in on is called Blog & Mablog which of course is a play on the Biblical prophecy about Gog and Magog.

I enjoy the guy's witt and he's spot on in many areas, but he doesn't believe the current state of Israel has any prophetic relevance, what-so-ever.

He is a-millenial and he is preterist. (hang around here long enough and those words will become commonplace to you.) Replacement theology. The church gets all the promises. God washed His hands of Israel 70 A. D. Millenium doesn't mean a 1,000 years.

Thus I was dismayed to read on his site that the current state of Israel is not more than a western nation that's living in a really bad neighborhood thanks to mis-guided British people who had a silly romantic idea about a jewish homeland.

This is an interesting place to consider our next 3 beatitudes, and I'm going somewhere with this, so stick with me.

When Frederick the Great, of Prussia asked his top religious minister to give some weeks of thought to the question of the Bible's relevance and believability, the minister said, I can do it in one word; Israel

They exist. Battered, broken, scattered all over the earth - but they are intact. God's chosen people.

Think about the idea of Civilization. I went on line to find a definition and found the exact one I was thinking of.

Civilization is the opposite of barbarism and chaos.

Civilization is an advanced stage of human society, where people live with a reasonable degree of organization and comfort and can think about things like art and education.

One of the most interesting books I've read in the last couple of years was about a missionary named John Paton. He went to Tanna island in the New Hebrides in the south seas in the 1860's.

To read his book is to get a picture of what mankind would look like with no intervention from God. At all. Just falleness, un-restrained.

They lived in complete chaos with every kind of superstition imaginable. The tribes all lived in fear of each other because human flesh was their favorite delicacy. Our wild horses on range have better manners than these humans.

They only allowed Mr. Paton, with his young wife and tiny baby son to live in a lowland area they knew was infested with malaria. He only learned this later. His wife and child succombed and he very nearly went mad with sorrow and loneliness.

He lived in fear of his life, every day and was finally driven from the island by the madmen who were out for his blood. He hid for days in a tree, and finally escaped to a passing ship. This was only after more than 3 years.

My point is that, unquestionably, without direct revelation from God, the whole planet would look like that, not just one isolated island.

Think about it, and I know I'm painting with a very broad brush.

After the flood, God kept knowledge of Himself alive through a few patriarch's. Read the book of Job and it's amazing how civilized these men who just knew a few basics about the Almighty were.

Abraham goes one direction, Lot goes another, but unfortunately the direction Lot chose was towards men who had abandoned any knowledge of God and who lived chaotically.

Then God chose a nation for His own, but the underlying reason was so that civilization could be introduced on a broad scale, by the written word of God. Moses received the 10 commandments.

And while Canaanites were throwing their children into the fire, God taught Israel how to behave.

The Law of God lifted Israel above any other people group on the earth as far as civil order. The nations around them were chaotically evil and only controlled by brutality.

Then Christ came, and His church spread these very principals we're studying, which by the way are nothing new, each one can be found in the old testament law.

Civilization spread with christianity, mostly westward.

We could try to pinpoint the high water mark of civilization. Was it christianized Britain? Edwardian Victorian England?

They certainly reign as an example of something I believe. Even though the people, mostly, were not real christians, the fact that their society and civilization was based in the King James Bible is why they are perhaps the high watermark.

Or you could argue that America into the 1830's is the high point of civilization. Or maybe even reaching up to World War II!

But wherever you put that high water mark at, you inevitably watch the Word of God begin to be summarily dismissed and replaced and civilization begins to crumble.

Civilized society is directly linked to that societies acceptance of the standards and authority of the God of scripture. Move away from that and you begin the descent back into the abyss of chaos and barbarism.

I give you the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Chaos and barbarism. And the world cannot do anything about it because they have summarily dismissed the God of order. The God who brings civilized society.

The perfect storm is brewing. It's just out at sea and from the looks of things, landfall will not be a long wait from now.

Israel is in fact God's chosen people and He is not finished with them at all. The contrast of that civilized society with the barbarism that surrounds them is amazing. America would do well to learn that brutal people need to be ruled by someone who is brutal. Where is Sadam when you need him?

I told you I was going somewhere with this. I am. Here it is; These 9 beginning statements by the Son of God are the building blocks of civilization.

With these, you have civilized society, or in our case, what remains that is rapidly evaporating. And without these, you have barbarism and chaos.

You can't have it both ways. You can't jettison these truth's and end up with order. Society. Stability.

I'll frighten you further. In 1943, Norman Rockwell painted 4 pictures. He was inspired by Franklin D Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address, entitled 4 freedoms. You've seen them.

Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Worship. Freedom from Want. Freedom from fear. You can see the images in your head. The guy standing with his work jacket on and his flannel shirt, notes sticking out of his pocket, saying his piece at a public gathering. The people praying and worshiping together in a house of worship. The thanksgiving feast with the grandma and grandpa at the head of the table, the giant platters of food, family intact, and the mom and dad tucking their little guy in bed.

Folks, that's just a little more than the span of my life time. Every one of those pictures would need to be painted differently now.

Freedom of speech is under constant attack. I can't speak the truth from the word of God where I work. I would be labeled a hater.

Worship is under attack, but not so much, as it's about to collapse from within.

Freedom from want has become the welfare state, where men no longer have to work in order to eat.

And Freedom from fear; we're clinging to the last threads of that. How long before I'll have to fear the politically correct thought police tapping at my door and saying, "we understand that you believe the Holy Bible is the inspired, innerant, authoritative Word of God."

70 years. A lifetime. We have walked away from God. Dismissed Him from our public life. Banned Him from our schools. Laughed at Him in our courts.

So, let's look at these 3 beatitudes in vss. 7, 8, and 9.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The first thing I want you to notice is that these are different from the first four.

Vss. 3,4,5,6 are internalized. Spiritually bankrupt. Mourning over my sin. Meek, humble. Hungering and thirsting for more of God.

And then there's a normal reaction to the internal. The fruits are external. Mercy. Purity. Peace.

Some have suggested there are natural connections here.

Spiritual bankrupts have mercy, because understanding our own bankruptcy is the great equalizer. We're all bankrupts. Equally. Thus we're merciful to the other bankrupt sinners. We're no better, they're no worse.

People who are mourning over their sin, cling the more, to purity. How precious that purity to a bankrupt sinner who is mourning his situation before a Holy God.

People who are meek, reach out to others to help make peace.

People who hunger and thirst for the righteousness found in the Word of God, are willing to suffer the costs of persecution and rejection to buy that better treasure. Any day.

People who live aloof from Satan's kingdom are not surprised when the citizens of Satan's kingdom bring all kinds of damages. We expect that. In fact we're surprised when that isn't the case.

The internals become externals. The tipping point is the Word of God. The 4th beatitude. The hunger and thirst for righteousness is equivalent with God's word. They're tied together. Equal entities.

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Mercy is a heart disposition. Mercy is that in your heart that wants good for others. It is opposite of the natural fallen man who lives every moment to increase good for old number one. Himself. Mercy sets self aside and spends itself on others.

Within that is they idea of sympathy. The characteristic of Jesus seen most in the gospels is sympathy. The sick, the ailing, the sheep with no shepherd who are constantly being torn to bits by their predator enemies. Jesus is sympathetic.

God is a God who loves to bless us. He wants to give all of us, every human on this planet, good things. Blessedness. He is a sympathetic God because of this attribute of mercy.

Jesus illustrates this better than I could ever describe it.

Luke 10:25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31“And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32“Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35“On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36“Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

This is mercy.

Proverbs says; He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the LORD; and that which he has given will he pay him again. 19:17

Jesus says in Matthew 25 that a cup of water to the one who thirsts and a bit of food for the one who hungers will be remembered at the judgement.

Mercy has a double blessing. Especially for us! In America these days we are the emotional equivalents of ingrown toenails. Our thoughts are so inward, everything's about me, that it becomes a sickness.

Ask any school teacher! What is the most healthy thing we can possibly do to eliminate this illness of 'obviously, the whole world rotates around me, me, me.'?

Go do something great for somebody else. Take your kids with you. It's a blessing, even without the promised blessing here.

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Another illustration, this time about the result part of the verse. This beatitude, as are all of them, is a conditional statement. If you do this, then you receive this. If, then, conditional. Here Jesus shows us the result of one who did the opposite of this beatitude. Bad form!

Mt. 18:23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24“When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25“But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26“So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27“And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29“So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30“But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31“So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32“Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

You can see that mercy is reciprocal. It starts with God, to us. We're bankrupts. He forgives the debt. Then we are merciful to our debtors. Then, according to this beatitude He is again, merciful to us! It goes round and round. We can't outgive God!

What kind of a world would that make. If everyone took this beatitude to heart! What a world!

Quickly, now, I want to look at vs. 8.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

I want to begin talking about this beatitude with the second part of this conditional statement.

Of all the blessings stated in the beatitudes, this is the pinnacle. This and it's partner in vs. 9. We will see God! Not only see Him, but be called Sons of God!

That's so far out there, beyond out imaginative capacity, that we read those statements and almost dismissively, move on. That's pie in the sky. Worry about that later. It's beyond us, for now.

I want to take you briefly though, to a man who not only thought about it, but asked God to do this for Him.

The setting here is that the children of Israel have already played the harlot and made a golden calf. Moses is up on the mountain obtaining the revealed Word of God, the tablets with the 10 commandments, and it's almost as if Satan's going to get his last good licks in before revealed truth makes his work harder.

Moses is pleading their case, having thrown down the tablets and broken them. God has said He's not going to be present with His people lest He consume them. He's going to stand apart.

Listen to Moses argument in in Exodus 33 vs. 16 in regard to my opening ideas about civilization proper.

16“For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”

Moses was brilliant. He understood that the very distinguishing marks of a people set apart by God is the civility brought by God's law. Revealed truth with authority. Do this and live. Neglect this and die.

We look around at our civil blessings, our police men, our soldiers, who serve us and bring about blessing and freedom to pursue happiness, and it all begins, right here with Moses.

Towns like Yerrington Nevada that had a bronze plaque in front of the court house with the 10 commandments on it, are under pressure to take that thing down and melt it down for scrap metal value.

But Moses goes further. He's on a roll!

17 The LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.” 18Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23“Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

Fallen men can't see God. We can't be in His presence physically in our sinful state. Our falleness has broken this possibility. But here, Jesus says;

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

That's astonishing!

Jesus, in His high priestly prayer in John 17 prayed this; 24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

This is the prayer that sets this beatitude in motion. 8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

OK, so now, back to the conditional statement. Blessed are the who? Pure In Heart.

Oops. Jeremiah 17:9 says; The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

I remember very well, in boot camp, in 1971, the official position of the US government was being taught to us. Men are basically good.

I halted the class and quoted this verse. That sargeant singled me out and made my life as hellish as it was in his power to do. Which kind of proved my point, I thought.

This is our fallen condition. Pureness of heart, the seat of thought and emotion and reason and will, is like the metal that SR-71 blackbirds are made of. Un-obtainium.

Among fallen men, there are none who have a pure heart. Zero.

Here's what Paul says; Ro. 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD

So much for pure in heart! It's unobtainable. Impossible, for men. But not for God, who justifies us in the blood of Jesus, shed at the cross.

2Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Col. 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

And that's the gospel. That's the good news. Jesus takes our impure hearts on Himself, at the cross, and gives to us, His pure heart. This beatitude, to see God, (as are all of them) are conditionally impossible, except that He gives us these conditional things, freely, as we cling to the finished work on the cross.

Do we rest on our laurels then, in the knowledge that we are positionally pure, before our God, in Christ?

2Cor. 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

With sanctification, we work hard to turn the positional truth, into practical truth. We aren't perfect, but we press on towards the goal. A pure heart.

Next week. Revival! And then on Sunday, we'll finish the beatitudes.