Matthew 5:1-6 – A New Moses

A NEW MOSES

Moses was the hero of the Israelite people.  God delivered Moses from the wrath of the Egyptians who tried to kill all Israelite boys (Exodus 1:22).  God brought Moses out of the wilderness to deliver His people from slavery (Exodus 3:1-10).  Moses would go up onto the mountain to commune with God and then speak on His behalf to the people (Exodus 19:1-6).  It was Moses who gave the Israelites the law of God (Exodus 20:1:17).  The first commandments concerned the relationship that the people should have with God, while the final commandments dealt with the proper relationship the people should have with each other.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Moses went on to write the first five books of the Bible.  Before his death he told the people that God would send another after him to whom they should listen (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The writer of Hebrews leaves us no doubt that Jesus is the greater Moses (3:1-6).  However, as Matthew writes to his Jewish brethren, he shows all the similarities that Jesus shared with Moses.  We have already seen that God divinely caused Jesus to escape the murder of the Hebrew boys (Matthew 2:13-18).  We have been told that Jesus would deliver His people from sin (Matthew 1:21).  Jesus experienced the wilderness and conquered it (Matthew 4:1).  Now in chapter 5 we see Jesus ascending the mountain.  We are going to hear Him speak with greater authority than the teaching of Moses.  Matthew presents the teaching of Jesus in five discourses (5-7, 10, 13, 18-20, 24-25) which mirrors the five books of Moses.  This first discourse of Jesus is called the Sermon on the Mount.  It is the longest recorded sermon of Jesus in the Bible with 107 verses and 50 imperative commands (do this, or don’t do that).  We see the beginning of this sermon is called the “Beatitudes.”  It has been likened to the ten commandments of Moses in that the first statements deal with our relationship to God, while the final statements deal with our relationship to each other.

God used Moses to bring the old covenant.  Now Jesus is clearly being revealed as the greater Moses whom the people have been waiting on.  Jesus is bringing a new covenant.  As we study the words of Jesus we are going to see Him highlight the righteousness of God.  As we feel the weight of this righteousness upon our shoulders we must remember that Jesus is our deliverer who fully satisfies the righteous requirements of God.  Remembering the Gospel will allow us to not fall into condemnation as we read commandments that we have broken (Romans 8:1).  However, at the same time, may the following sermon convict us and spur us toward more faithful and loving obedience to Jesus and His commands.  As we grow in Christ may we look more like Him and our lives glow as examples of His new righteous kingdom.

 

BLESSED

Jesus begins His sermon by showing people what a life looks like that is truly accepted by God.  This is what the term “blessed” denotes.  A blessed person is one who is in a wholistic state of well-being in their relationship with God.  Many commentaries translate the word blessed as “happy.”  Don’t allow this to confuse you into thinking that our temporary feelings of happiness are what is most important.  Happy feelings come and go.  Rather, we are truly happy when we know we are in a right standing with God.  Sheer joy is experienced when we know that God is on our side and has aligned Himself with us.  This is the power of the blessedness that Jesus speaks of.

To be blessed is to come to God knowing who we are and who He is.  The first four beatitudes teach us about our posture when coming to the Lord for blessing.  We must be poor in Spirit.  This doesn’t mean we should see ourselves as if we have no intrinsic value or worth.  This view undermines the scriptures that teach us we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 139:14).  Remember also that God chose to redeem us in Christ.  He loves us and this alone makes us valuable.  Being poor in spirit simply means that we come to God holding none of our own accomplishments as a means of earning His love and mercy.  We must see ourselves as spiritually empty and completely in need of God.  God has provided the necessary means by which we can come to Him.  It’s never how we can approve ourselves.  It’s always and only through the person and work of Jesus.

A blessed person is also a person who mourns.  When we read of the goodness and righteousness of God we should mourn at the depths we have fallen from His beauty.  When we read Romans 3:9-18, it should produce a godly sorrow within us.  We have not sought Him.  We have not obeyed Him.  We have fallen short of His glory.  It is as we realize how dark we have become that the light of Jesus shines brighter in our lives.  Our comfort comes to us as we recognize the great links that God has gone to redeem us from our sin.  He should have left us to our depravity, but instead He came all the way to us and washes us clean.  What a blessing we experience as we see the power of the Gospel at work in our lives!

There is a reason we sometimes refer to our human existence as a “rat race.”  So many scurry around frantically looking for any bits of cheese they can greedily devour.  Not so with the one who is blessed.  They are meek.  This word doesn’t mean shy or introverted.  Instead, it means they live gently with full trust in the Lord for their provision.  The meek don’t have to sell themselves for advancement.  The gentle don’t have to push and shove to get ahead.  They know that God loves them and will meet their every need.  The meek can stop thinking about themselves and rest in the arms of God.

Do you know what kind of person finds a shark tooth on the beach?  The person who goes out and looks for a shark tooth on the beach.  We all have some form of human ambition that drives us toward the goals we set for ourselves.  The things in life we are most hungry for allows us to paint the right targets and aim in the proper directions so that we can attain our dreams.  The passion of the blessed person is found in the righteousness of God.  They hunger and thirst for Him.  They long for Him.  King David said, “as a deer pants for water so my soul longs for God” (Psalm 42:1).  Jesus said, “seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).  People usually get what they hunger for.  May our hunger be for God.  May we be blessed people and find whom we are looking for.

 

Study Questions

  1. Discuss a few ways that the life of Moses points us forward to the life of Jesus.  Isn’t God good to provide so much history that helps us clearly see Jesus as the pinnacle of His plan and our salvation?
  2. Describe the difference between condemnation and conviction?  How do we destroy condemnation in our lives?  How do we foster conviction?
  3. Think about the first four beatitudes and how they show us the right way to approach God for a meaningful and wholistic relationship with Him.  Which of the four stuck out the most to you and why?
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