Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you,” Matthew 5:11, 12 (NKJV).
I suppose there’s some reason why these verses aren’t included among those verses commonly called “The Beatitudes.” We looked at them over a couple of posts. I think, though, there’s a reason why the Lord in His wisdom said these words immediately after those words, or at least why He inspired Matthew to include them here.
The Beatitudes are addressed, if you will, to “them”. Now, those whom the Lord has called by His grace seldom think of themselves as “worthy” of such blessings as they have received and which are promised even to them. They find it difficult to receive what God has promised as being to, and for, them. They don’t deserve it. And they are right. We don’t deserve even the slightest blessing from our God.
And there is a point that we need to consider in all this. The Old Testament, at least from the time of Abraham, and especially from the book of Exodus onward, was written to the nation of Israel. I used to attend a church which would read a portion of the Old Testament, often Isaiah, as part of the service. This is a great idea. I wish more churches did it. However, in this church, verses in these chapters which indicated that the contents of the chapters were to “Israel,” or “Judah and Jerusalem” were never read. Now, I understand why they did that. As far as the pastor of that church was concerned, God is done with Israel as a nation. They have no promises left. Further, according to him, all the OT promises are “fufilled in Jesus.” So there was nothing wrong with appropriating those verses as being to and for Christians. I cannot agree – if words have any meaning at all.
In spite of what the song says, “every promise in the book is” NOT “mine.” There might be an application to us of promises made to Israel, but that doesn’t negate the primary message and interpretation as belonging to them. There are plenty of promises made to and for Christians in the New Testament. “The ninth beatitude” is one of them.
But we have trouble believing that such promises are for us. This is why the Lord changed emphasis between the first eight beatitudes and this one. The first eight are indeed to “them,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if He looked directly at His disciples when He said, “Blessed are YOU….” He wanted to make sure that they understood that this promise was for them, the disciples.
There are a couple of things to note in this beatitude. Charges against believers are to be false, and they are to be for His sake.
If we have Christ, we have all we need in the area of “promises”. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, Paul wrote, For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. So we have nothing to worry about. It’s a shame that doesn’t stop us.