“The Earth Inherited by the Meek”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.5
Matthew 5. It is a dog eat dog world out there. Every company is trying to beat out its company. In competitive sales, every salesman is trying to beat out their coworkers even if it means lying and cheating in order to do it. Employees and other companies are clawing their way to the top trying to figure out how to get the most power and the most money. Companies are competing against other companies to get a larger share in the market, and many are even willing to employ child labor overseas in order to get ahead.
Politicians are constantly fighting their way to the top, even slandering their opponents in order to do so. And that’s not just today. Negative campaigning was fathered by two lifelong friends, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Back in 1776, the dynamic duo combined powers to help claim America’s independence, and they had nothing but love and respect for one another. But by 1800, party politics had so distanced the pair that, for the first and last time in U.S. history, a president found himself running against his vice president.
Things got ugly fast. Jefferson’s camp accused President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
In return, Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-[life] fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mo-latto father.” Mulatto means half black half white.
As the slurs piled on, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward.
Even Martha Washington, wife of George Washington, succumbed to the propaganda, telling a clergyman that Jefferson was “one of the most detestable of mankind.” It’s a dog eat dog world and you have to be tough if you’re going to get what you want in this world.
That kind of clawing one’s way to the top is exactly the opposite of Matt 5:5
Matthew 5:5 5 “Blessed are the gentle [or better the meek as you may have in the margin], for they shall inherit the earth.
However, the unethical corporate takeovers, the politicians, and the many employees all seem to think it reads “blessed are the proud people who intimidate others and grind them down in order to build themselves up and increase their own power and bottom line, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Naturally, our Lord is turning truth on it’s head and making it call out for attention. “No no, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” That is other-worldly; that is truth not of this world.
Pronouncement: Blessed are the meek
First, let’s look at the pronouncement: blessed or spiritually prosperous are the meek.
Now, meekness is not weakness. It is not being timid, wishy-washy or shy or fearful or just plain nice. It is not someone who is indecisive…
ILL: And as one commentator put it, a meek man is not a man who is “so unsure of himself that he could be pushed over by a hard slap from a wet noodle!”
As you may be aware, meekness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ga. 5:23), so it’s not a quality that you can conjure up on your own nor is it something you are born with.
And through observing the Greek word behind the word meek in it’s various contexts, we do know that it is opposed to being rough, hard, violent, angry, aggressive, and being contentious.
The biblical word “meek” has had a lot of attention, but much of the ink spilled doesn’t help us to arrive at a concise understanding.
The meek person in this beatitude is someone who is under the control of God. It is someone who is tame, controlled by God.
For example, turn to Ps. 37. Jesus is clearly referring to this psalm when He talks about the meek inheriting the earth.
Psalm 37:11 “But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” The Greek translation says “But the meek will inherit the earth.”
This Psalm refers to righteous people struggling underneath the domination of rich wicked people. For example verse one, “do not fret because of evildoers, don’t be envious of them.”
Instead verse 3 “trust in the Lord.” Verse 4 “delight yourself in the Lord.” Verse 5 “Commit your way to the Lord.” Verse 7 “rest of the Lord and wait patiently for him. Do not fret! Cease from anger and forsake wrath because verse 9 evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land.
Pretty soon verse 10 the wicked will be no more but verse 11 the humble will inherit the land. You can see the psalm is about righteous people struggling underneath the control of wicked people.
And so it is then that these qualities in Psalm 37 describe a meek person. A truly meek person will trust in the Lord and he delights himself in the Lord and he commits his way to the Lord and he verse seven rests in the Lord and waits patiently for him.
Just like, end of verse 9, those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land so verse 11 the meek will inherit the land. The meek and those who wait for the Lord then are one and the same.
That describes those who are meek: trusting the Lord, committed to Him, resting in Him, waiting patiently for Him, not fretting because of evil doers.
ILL: Now, if you want a picture of meekness, the use of this word in ancient Greek literature is a picturesque. The ancient Greeks used this word of animals. For example, they used it of wild horses they caught and tamed.
The Greeks, of course, would use these horses that they caught in the wild for warfare. But that would take extensive training. They were trained to respond to any slight pressure from the rider. They were trained not to be scared of noises or flying arrows. And when they were ready for battle they were said to be “meek.”
So when Jesus says “Blessed are the meek,” he is referring to someone who is under the control of God just like a well-trained horse is under the control of its rider.
Like a horse is not to fret about the sights and sounds of battle, nor are the meek to fret because of evildoers. And the reason for that is the meek trust in the Lord like a horse trusts in its rider. The horse has committed its way to its rider, so also the meek commit their ways of the Lord. The horse rests in the Lord and waits patiently for its rider, so also should we be toward the Lord.
So how does meekness play out in real life?
One example of this quality of meekness is found in the Christian wife. Turn to 1 Peter chapter 3. Here we see not only what the Christian wife is to look like, but we see what we are all to be toward God.
1 Peter 3:3. Speaking to Christian wives Peter writes, Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but [your adornment should primarily] be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle [that’s meek] and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. [how is she meek? Keep going…] 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, [here it is] being submissive to their own husbands [submission is a quality of what it is to be meek] ; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
The meek wife has as her primary adornment not external beauty, but the internal quality of meekness. What is that? It naturally accompanies a quiet spirit, she’s not loud and contentious. The meek wife submits herself to her husband, and Sarah even called her husband ‘lord’ or master. Hopefully not in public at least!
These are all qualities that men, women, and children ought to have toward God. A quiet spirit not being contentious with God. We are to submit ourselves to God calling him the Lord! Not frightened by any fear because, like a well-trained warhorse, we entrust ourselves to Him who controls all things and is eternally good.
ILL: Like Jesus who said Matthew 11:29 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [meek] and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
How was Jesus meek? He was meek toward God and gentle towards others.
John 5:19 Jesus says, “Whatever the Father does, that the Son does also.” He is controlled by the Father. John 8:28 He says, “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” John 12:45 I have not spoken on my own authority but the Father who sent me has Himself given Me a commandment.” John 14:10 the words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority but the Father who dwells in me….”
And we could go on, the point is Jesus was totally controlled by His Heavenly Father. He’s meek.
ARG: Further in Psalm 25 says the Lord instructs sinners in the way. Is that you? Verse 9 says the Lord leads the meek in justice and He teaches the meek His way.
The Lord teaches meek sinners. He’s not nitpicking at others all the time, he’s focused on nitpicking himself to be teachable because he knows himself to be a sinner.
Now as we turn back to Matthew 5, let us note the progression in the beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are they who mourn over that fact that they are destitute sinners, bankrupt sinners. And blessed are those who respond to that mourning over sin and now become tame, controlled, meek toward the Lord. Not fighting the Lord, not balking … But the meek person, because he realizes he’s pour in spirit and he’s morning over that, he’s choosing not to be his own master but is bending low toward the Lord and is quiet before him, waiting for the slightest nudge from His Holy Spirit.
ILL: Like that horse realizes he is hopeless and helpless without his trainer. No food no future without his rider. The horse becomes meek.
And the person convicted of his sin who realizes his utter destitution before God and is weeping over that, he’ll seek to have a great master and to be controlled by Him. “Lord God, control my life!”
APP: Are you still your own master? Who calls the shots? When there is a difference between what you want and what the Lord wants, do you choose what you want without any real thought?
For some of us here, I’m sure sometimes You might still be a scared little horse but the Lord has you by the reins and you are learning to look to him. To be meek is not to be perfect, but it is to have a sensitivity to your master and you have a desire that He control your every step. You may falter and fail and buck the rider from your back, but you repent and learn. That’s having some degree of meekness.
TRANS: Now, if this is you and God is training you and has controlled you, and you are at least to some degree tame toward Him, yours is the great pledge: the meek shall inherit the earth.
Just like with all the other pledges, we take this one normally. Jesus pledge to those who are meek is that “they shall inherit the earth.”
When we looked at Psalm 37, we saw that this is also a promise to the people of Israel under the old covenant. The Israelites would naturally take it to refer to physical land. That land is the land of Israel that was promised to Abraham and to his descendants. The meek inherit the land.
And when we get to the book of Isaiah chapter 61, and you can turn there, we see the meek inheriting the land. Isaiah 61 is a very important passage for Jesus’ ministry. He quoted verse 1 and the first line of verse 2 in Luke chapter 4 when He was in the synagogue, in his hometown.
Isaiah 61:1–2 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
… And then Jesus stopped reading in the synagogue that day and said, “this day this passage is filled in your ears.”
What he didn’t read was the rest of verse two… That he has been sent to proclaim … “the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…”
Which of course wasn’t fulfilled in the first coming, but in the second coming! The meek are described here: they are they who mourn at the end of verse two… They are oppressed by wickedness…
Isaiah 61:3 3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
And when the meek are beautified with this salvation, the salvation that gives them righteousness… Verse four describes the Millennium, the 1000 year reign of Christ when He comes again …
Isaiah 61:4–7 4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. 5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers. 6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations [the book of Revelation says that during the Millennium the glories of the nations will be brought into the Millennium], And in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs.
It is these afflicted, meek people those who have ashes as a sign of mourning and who have a spirit of fainting those who are devastated … It is these whose situation will be totally reversed: They shall inherit the earth! Turn to Ro. 4.
Turn to Ro. 4. When we come to the New Testament, Romans 4:13-16 tells us that the land promise is given to those who trust in the Lord just like Abraham did. The land promise is to all who trust in the Lord.
Romans 4:13–16 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law [the Law of Moses], but through the righteousness of faith. [that Abraham would be heir of the world is through the righteousness that comes from faith] 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. 16 For this reason it [that is the promise of being heir of the world] is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,
And you, according to Galatians 3:7, you are a spiritual descendant of Abraham if you trust in the Lord and have at least some Spirit-given meekness, being controlled by God.
The point is that those who trust God like Abraham did also have the promise of being heir of the world, of inheriting the world!
To make this plain now there is coming a day when Jesus will return! Revelation 19-20 tell us that when Jesus comes back He will rule for 1000 years and He will do so from the land of Israel. And those who have trusted in Christ and mourn their sin will reign with Him as His meek followers.
That’s because the Bible says in Romans 8:17 that we are joint heirs with Christ. We are heirs together with him and we with him will inherit the world. 1 Corinthians 6:2 says that we will judge the world. And this 1000 year reign of Christ on earth will eventuate in the new heaven and the new earth where in the dwells righteousness, 2 Peter 3:13.
And so today the meek are described in 2 Corinthians 6:10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
Meek, the ones controlled by God, the ones who have been tamed by God and brought underneath his control, it is we who have the title deed to the earth… Having nothing now, yet in the future possessing all things… Because it is the meek alone who will inherit the earth.
APP: So don’t try to gain the world now! You don’t need to; be content with what you have. But a little while and you’ll be with Him, receiving the fullness of His promise.
TRANS: Now, what ought you to do about this? Here is your prescription.
Like the other Beatitudes, this is meant to be motivating. The pledge of the world to those who are meek should motivate those outside to become meek.
APP: There is too much to lose and so much to gain. Why be on the outside of Christ any longer? Make a stand for Jesus, give up your sinful ways and turn your back on your will and submit it all to Him!
You need to come underneath the control of God. If you are not in his pasture and you are a wild horse of a man, you need to be tamed. Let me motivate you briefly to become meek, tamed, and controlled by God.
You should become meek because if you are tamed and controlled by God, you are taught by God, Psalm 25 told us. And that means that God is working in your life and he is giving you abundant grace. And even in trials, if you are meek and controlled by him, you’ll have strength and you won’t fight and complain.
It’s never fun to go through trials, but it’s less fun if you’re fighting or being upset and angry in the trial. The trainer trains his horse and sometimes it’s not pleasant for the horse. God’s training of us is sometimes not pleasant, but if we choose not to fret against Him or murmur or complain of His providence, but instead we say “not my will, but thine be done” and “It is the Lord, let Him do as He pleases” (1 sam 3:18) …or like Job, you put your hand over your mouth right away and speak not a word against Him, if you have that kind of submission to God in it all, you’ll not be chaffing in the trial, but you’ll have peace and joy! Peace and joy in trial for the meek.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Matthew 5.5
So are you controlled by the God’s Holy Spirit?
Young people, do you demonstrate that you are controlled, governed, tamed by the Lord? How about with your parents? Do you fight against them?
Wives and husbands, do you demonstrate you’re controlled by God or do you continue to fight and complain against each other? Employee, is your employer unable to get you to submit? Do you fight against orders?
So someone says “how do i attain meekness?”
Look to the first 2 beatitudes: Be poor in spirit and mourning. When you realize you are poor in spirit and you mourn over that, you’ll realize you no longer want to be your own master. You’ve messed everything up! You are a bad master, a sinful one. You’ll long for a new master. And you’ll become moldable, tame, and God can begin to control your life.
And then you’ll let Jesus be your master. Actively everyday learn from Him. Continue to mourn over and to confess your sins and as you learn from Him you’ll become meek like He is.
Actively look to the word of God. Like a tame horse looks for any slight direction from his rider, look to the word of the Lord for any slight direction that you need to take. Someone meek and controlled by the word of God will absorb it and respond to it immediately and properly.
So the way to eternal prosperity is not climbing the corporate ladder, dog-eat-dog approach, step on everyone in your way…it is mourning over your sin to the point that you don’t want the reins to your own life and you long to be controlled by God and have Him rule you.
D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World: An Exposition of Matthew 5–10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 20–21. ↑