The Beatitudes, Final
Jan 28, 2014
Luke lists only four Beatitudes, while Matthew gives nine. Luke’s version of Jesus’ sermon is greatly shortened, because he leaves out the material that would be of interest to Jews and focuses more upon the teachings relevant to the non-Jewish world. Luke’s audience is different from Matthew, even though Luke has addressed his treatise specifically to a former high priest in Jerusalem.
Luke’s fourth Beatitude is found in Luke 6:22,
22 Blessed are you, when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
Matthew turns it into two Beatitudes in Matthew 5:10, 11, saying,
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 men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Me.
The main difference in wording is that, in Luke, men are persecuted “for the sake of the Son of Man,” while in Matthew they are persecuted “for the sake of righteousness.” These mean the same, of course, though the approach is different. As I have already shown, righteousness is the biblical goal, which comes down to having a covenant relationship with the “Son of Man,” whereby we may achieve union with the Father and thereby become the expression of His Love.
Those who hunger and thirst to achieve this are often persecuted, because their beliefs and methods differ from that of their persecutors. Obviously, the persecutors follow the dictates of their carnal minds. Because they are in positions of power, they are able to kill the prophets for daring to disagree with their traditions of men.
The sin of Judah and Israel in earlier times had brought about the captivities to the beast nations portrayed in Daniel 7. Under the “yoke of iron,” Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people were deported to Babylon. Yet under Medo-Persia, the people’s sentence was reduced to the wooden yoke, and they were allowed to return to their old land. They were also allowed to form their own government, though it remained subservient to the Persian king (and later to Greece and Rome).
So the political situation gave the religious leaders in Jerusalem a certain level of authority over the people, which they often misused to obtain wealth and to persecute the prophets. In other words, their captivity seemed to do little to turn their hearts to God, but rather they manifested the same heart of the beast system which they hated.
In the end, however, when the beast systems have finished their time and their contract with God has expired, these “blessed” ones who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will be given the Dominion Mandate of the Kingdom. Daniel tells us that after the “little horn” has completed his time of dominion, the saints will receive the Dominion Mandate. The “little horn” wages war with the saints and overpowers them “until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrives when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Daniel 7:22).
We find ourselves living at the time that Daniel prophesied, for as I have shown previously, the long-term “seven times” contract is expiring from 2006-2016, depending on which event we date its beginning point. Likewise, the 1480-year time of the final beast, that is, the “little horn,” is also expiring. It began in the days of Justinian, who changed times and laws from 526-536 A.D.
So we see that the present age (now ending) was given to the beast nations on account of the sins of Israel and Judah, for they were unworthy of the Dominion Mandate. Yet in the end the “saints” of the Most High God will rule the earth under their Head, Jesus Christ. These are the blessed ones who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of the Son of Man, the Mediator of this New Covenant.
Luke 6:26 gives us the fourth “woe,” which corresponds to this fourth Beatitude, saying,
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.
Conflict between the righteous and the carnal ones is inevitable. Political leaders want unity, and when they are led by their own carnal minds, they want everyone else to follow their lead. The “false prophets” are those who use their gift to support the will of the leaders, rather than to support the will of God. Their loyalty is to the king first, for they have decided to submit to men rather than to God. At the same time, they claim to speak for God, but their loyalty to God is subservient to their loyalty to the king or leader.
The righteous, however, have a different goal, and their loyalty is to God first and the king second. So whenever the king disagrees with God, these “blessed” ones are perceived as being unpatriotic or out of step with the majority. They are seen as the cause of disunity, because their goal is different. Carnal leaders want everyone to support them in their quest for power and wealth. Those who are led by the Spirit seek the Kingdom, where the common good is established by the law of Love and Impartiality.
Upon completing his shortened list of Beatitudes, Luke then presents us with the central thought in Luke 6:23,
23 Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
This statement also appears in Matthew 5:12 with only slight changes in the wording. Luke positions this statement as a climax to his Beatitudes and as a transition into the four “woes.”
The climax or conclusion of these Beatitudes is to “be glad” and “leap for joy.” The poverty and oppression of the average person was not the focus. Jesus did not play on their discontent or resentment. Neither did He tell them how bad off they were. He had not come to make them angry at the injustice that was evident all around them. His message was that they were “blessed.” Why? Because their reward was permanent—not temporary. The reward of the beast empires was dated and therefore limited by the Law of Tribulation to a mere “seven times.” The reward of the blessed had no expiration date.
To truly recognize that one is blessed is cause for rejoicing in spite of hardship, oppression, and persecution. If all of the people had understood this, the nation itself would have prospered under Rome. If they had submitted humbly to the judgment of God, the iron hand of Rome would have been greatly relaxed. If the people had believed that God was righteous in His judgments when He sold them into the hands of these beast nations, they would have submitted to Rome as unto God.
But carnal minds do not comprehend the divine plan, nor do they believe that God would rule against them in favor of beast nations. It was this way in the days of Jeremiah, when the people decided to fight against Nebuchadnezzar, instead of submitting to divine judgment. It was that way again in the first century when many false messiahs rose up to lead revolts against Rome. Each revolt increased Rome’s oppression until Jerusalem finally was destroyed.
The “blessed” ones, then, are those who truly believe the word of God and who act accordingly. They distinguish themselves from the average carnally-minded person. They are often despised and even persecuted for believing differently.
The rest of Jesus’ “sermon” shows us just how different these “blessed” people are, for as we will see, the Beatitudes are only an introduction to Jesus’ foundational teaching. What follows is the practical way of life that characterizes such “blessed” people.
This is part 4 of a mini-series titled "The Beatitudes." To view all parts, click the link below.
This is part 24 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones