HAPPINESS THROUGH HUNGER
Isaiah 55: 1-9
I am speaking on the fourth beatitude this morning which says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” As an introduction to the study read Isaiah 55:1-9, for God Himself spoke the fourth beatitude to Israel in the days of Isaiah in the form of a promise. God promised Israel that the day would come when He would offer them food and drink free of charge. They would be able to buy bread, wine and milk without money and without price. In the fourth beatitude Jesus announced to Israel and to the world that He was the One who would supply the food God promised in Isa. 55. Isa.. 55:1-9 is an inspired commentary on the fourth beatitude. The food and drink that money can buy will sustain only the body, but Christ has food and drink that will prevent starvation of the soul, and it is free.
Two of the key words in this beatitude are hunger and thirst. Hunger is the desire, need or appetite for food. Sometimes it assumes the form of discomfort, pain or weakness caused by a need for food. Hunger is a natural God-given desire of the body. Thirst is the uncomfortable or distressed feeling caused by a desire or need for water Hunger and thirst are two of the oldest desires of the physical body, and like hunger it is a god-given desire. We don't have to learn them; they are instincts.
In the Isa. 55 version of this beatitude God promised to give Israel and the Gentile world wine, milk and bread without money and without price. Wine, milk and bread were the desirable food products of the day and represented all desirable foods and beverages. However, God did not have wine, milk and bread in mind at all. This language is to be understood figuratively, not literally. This is spiritual language and had no reference to the physical body. He was speaking of the needs of the soul, of the spirit, of the higher nature of man. Exactly what God had in mind would not be understood until the Messiah would come and explain this wonderful prophecy. Wine, bread and milk free of charge, a gift from heaven. I am sure that prophecy excited Israel; it reminded them of the Manna Israel enjoyed for forty years in the wilderness.. The words hunger and thirst in Isaiah 55 and Matthew 5 simply carry the meaning of a strong desire, feeling or wish. Some have a hunger for food products that are not healthy and some thirst for alcohol. Spiritually speaking, hunger and thirst are figurative terms for any strong desire, wish or feeling. Let us now restate the fourth beatitude and correctly interpret the first part of the statement. Jesus is saying, “Happy are those who have strong feeling and desire in their hearts for righteousness.”
Another key word in this beatitude is the word righteousness, for Jesus said, “Happy are people who have the desire to be righteous.” What is this righteousness we are to desire? In the first place it is something which is found only in the gospel of Christ. Romans 1:`6 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. For therein is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith.” What is righteousness? It is God's undeviating righteousness. It is God's law and God's love. It is rightness as God sees rightness. We are to desire it for it includes the righteousness of God, and according to the passage just read, it includes all the truths, laws and teachings of the Christian religion. Righteousness has to do with law, justice and right. Righteousness has been defined as conformity to God's standard of right and justice. A clue to its meaning is revealed in the first five letters of the word, which spells “right.” Righteousness is soul food, nourishment for the spirit of man, nutrition to man's higher nature.
In Isa. 55, wine, water and milk are symbolical representatives of spiritual revival and nourishment Righteousness has reference to moral and religious satisfaction. Righteousness in this beatitude is equivalent to holiness—personal, spiritual holiness of heart and life. It is the sum of all the virtues. in the Christian religion. The desire of the Christian heart is righteousness, not simply righteousness hereafter, but righteousness now. Jesus was speaking of happiness in this life, and it belongs to people who hunger and thirst for righteousness as long as they live. However, it is the soul that desires righteousness, not the body. There is a conflict between the flesh and spirit in this regard. This beatitude challenges us to believe that there is something in our spiritual nature that is high and noble that is able to appreciate things that are morally and religiously holy, righteous and good. It is an evidence that we are high and noble creatures who are made in the likeness and image of God. The Bible says we are made just a little lower than the angels. This beatitude is about soul satisfaction. The soul is made for God, and for this reason there is no bread that will satisfy man but God Himself. This desire for righteousness implies a sense of sin and weakness . Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness must hunger and thirst after Christ, for the Bible says, “But of God you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Righteousness is that which satisfies the demands of God's law. He is our righteousness because by His obedience and death, He has fully satisfied the demands of justice.
2 Cor 5:21, says that God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. This seems to say that Christians meet God's standard of righteousness because Christ took our sins to the cross, and forgave our sins. That made us clean and right, and He keeps us clean by creating in us a desire to be righteous, and with His help we transform our lives. . When we stand before the judgment-seat of God that scripture is going to mean everything to Christians. Thus far we have learned some important things about this beatitude. We have determined that to hunger and thirst is no more than a strong desire. We have also learned that righteousness is moral and religious rightness as God sees it. Furthermore, we we have discovered that Christ has made His disciples the righteousness of God, that is, He makes Christians right in the sight of God.
These great truths necessarily imply that the only people in the world who can appreciate this beatitude and carry it out in their lives are Christians.. When He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the pronoun “those” refer to people who are in the kingdom of Christ, those who are members of His church. Those who are poor in spirit also mourn over their sins, and this leads to repentance and salvation in Christ. After we are born of the water and Spirit, we still desire for righteousness in another sense; we desire to go on to pefection, to become a fully developed Christian. The new birth is but the beginning of a righteous life. Then we ask Christ to help us to be righteous in character. Christians thirst to be kept right. When we overcome one bad habit, we thirst to put down all others. When we have acquired one more Christian virtue, we thirst to acquire more. As the redeemed people of God, we are always hungering and thirsting to be made right, to be kept right, to correct the things are amiss in our lives.
In addition to our personal desire to carry out God's will in our lies, we desire to see righteousness promoted among our fellow-men. We wish all men would do as they would be done by, and we try by our example to teach others to do so. We wish there were no fraud, no false witness, no theft, no violence, no adultery and no lasciviousness. We wish that right ruled in all the world. We long for wars to cease and that rules and principles of right and not force or the sword may govern all mankind.
However, all this is wishful thinking in the kind of world we live in. There is little hunger and thirst for righteousness in the world today. The affections of the great mass of people in the world are set on worldly things, on enriching themselves. They have no interest in spiritual blessings, much
less do they hunger and thirst for them. People labor, as a general rule, during the greater part of their lives for that which satisfies not. We have
everything that a machine age can provide, yet boredom and unhappiness have reached an all time high. and our morals to an all time low. The reason for this is that man's hunger for God has not been satisfied. The heart cannot be satisfied with gadgets, houses, automobiles and computers. It is this higher hunger which distinguishes man from the lower animals. Animals have four hungers: hunger for food and drink; for rest, for play and for sex. Give these to an animal, and he is content, but not so with man. He cannot live by bread alone. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who come to me shall never hunger; and he who believes on me shall never thirst”(John 6:35). If hunger and thirst is so urgent, why is it so few people hunger and thirst for religion? The answer is that man does not know who He is. He does not know he is a creature made in the image of God. He does not know he has a soul. Man must have more than enough to live ON; he must have enough to live FOR. Jesus taught that if we had enough to live FOR, we would find enough to live ON. When we realize that we have much to live FOR, we do not seem to need so much to live ON.
Finally, in this beatitude Christ pronounces a bendiction on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The blessing promised is, “They shall be filled.” No one else ever gets filled. A man desires meat; he eats it, and is filled for a little while. but he is soon hungry again. A man desires drink, and he has it; but he is soon thirsty again. But Jesus promises that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be so filled that they shall never thirst again as they thirsted before. His disciples shall want righteousness, and they shall receive righteousness. They want God, and they shall have God. They want a new heart; they shall receive new heart. They want to be kept from sin, and they will be kept from sin. They want to live where there are none who sin; they shall be taken away from this earth where shall be no sinful living forever and ever.
Millions still reject Christ, but He has a people who will not reject Him. The masses of mankind at present ignore Him, but the Lord knows them that are His. If we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness we are on the winning side. The battle may go against us just now, but let us fight on. Hold fast to the principles of the gospel. Follow after holiness and righteousness in every form., Follow after that which is true.