HAPPINESS THROUGH HUNGER
Isaiah 55: 1-9
I am ommenting on the fourth beatitude in this study which says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” As an introduction to the study please 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 Isaiah . 55. Isaiah 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 and 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 Isaiah 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 olden times 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 rightness as God sees rightness. We are to desire God's righteousness, 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 Isaiah 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. This alone proves that human beings did not descend from animals. Such a desire never existed in animals This higher aspect of human nature is a strong evidence for the existence of God. We represent God on this earth; we resemble Him, and that is the greatest reason it is a crime of the highest nature to kill a human being. It is to wipe out a part of the image of God on this earth.. 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 Christ's obedience and death, He has fully satisfied the demands of God's justice. 2 Cor 5:21 says, “For God made Him 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, having suffered our due punishment. and for this God made us clean and right. He keeps us clean by creating in us a deissre to be righteous, and with His help we tranform our lives When we stand beore the judgment seat of God that scripture is going to mean everything to Christians. Thus far we have leanred 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 no more than moral and religiou rightness as God sees it. Furthermore, 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 carrry it out in their lives are Christians. When He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the pornoun “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 completeness of Christian character, to becoame a fully developed Christian. The new birth is but the beginning of a righteous life. Then we ask Christ help us to be righteous in character. Christians thrist to be kept right. When we overcome one bad habit, we thirst to put down all others. When we have acquired one more Chrsistian virtue, we thirst to acquirse more. As the redeemed people of God, we are always hungering and thirsting to be made right, to be kpet right, to correct whatever things amiss in our lives.
In addition to our personal desire to carry out God's will in our lives, 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 and on enriching themselves. They are working themselves to death, all for the sake of a lilttle security when they retire. They are so given to this one desire that they have no time to enjoy life as it goes by. They have no interest in spiritual blessings, and 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 this 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 it is not so with man. He cannot live by bread alone. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes on Me shall never thirst(John 6:35). If hunger and thirst are so urgent, why is it so few people hunger and thrist for religion and righteousness? 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 doe 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 don't seem to need so much to live ON.
Finally, in this beatitude, Christ pronounces a benediction on those who hunger and thrist after righteousness. The blessing promised is, “They they shall be filled.” No one else in this world ever gets filled. A man desires meat. He eats it and is filled for a little while, but he is soon hungry again. But Jesus promises that those who hunger and thrist after righteousness shall be so filled that they shall never thirst again as they thirsted before. His disciples shall want righteousness, and they shall have righteousness.. They want God, and they shall have God. They want to be right, and they will be right. They want a new and better life, and they will have a new and better life. They want to be kep from sin and live where there will be no sin, and they shall be taken away from this earth to heaven where there will be no sinful living forever and ever. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Churches of Christ invite your investigation. Why not attend the services of the Church of Christ in your area next Sunday? You will be a welcome guest. Look in the yellow pages of theTelephne book under the heading, “Churches of Christ.”