Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
The Beatitudes. Most Christians know of them, and many know them by heart. So last night I had some people asking me last night about these two items in the list. They were wondering: why is it that the poor in spirit get the kingdom of heaven, while the meek only get the earth?
Here’s the kicker: the poor in spirit are the meek, and the kingdom of heaven is the earth.
“What?” you exclaim! “How can this be?”
Well, let’s see. What does Jesus mean by the poor in spirit? As a number of commentaries agree, the poor in spirit are those who recognize that they are bankrupt before God. No one has anything to offer God or a leg to stand on before Him; those who know this are poor in spirit. These people repent and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, and so they represent believers. And we know that believers will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
But what about the meek inheriting the earth? Well, for starters, the meek are also all believers. See, that’s who all of the Beatitudes are about: believers. Those who trust in Christ are blessed. The meek are the humble and gentle, those who see who they are compared to God, so they humble themselves and repent. Because of this, they will inherit the earth.
But still, why is one group said to receive the earth and one said to receive the kingdom of heaven? Because they are the same. How? The kingdom of heaven (a.k.a. the kingdom of God) is, as I said in a sermon once, where the people of God do the will of God under the Son of God for the glory of God. It has begun now, with the church, all since the Resurrection. Yet it is not complete yet. When the kingdom comes in its fullness, Jesus will personally rule on the earth. He will be the King of Glory, strong and mighty. All nations will submit to Him, and His people will fill the earth. In a premilliennialist view (which I generally follow), this starts in the Millennium, but it doesn’t end there. The kingdom of God on the earth will continue into the New Creation. In fact, when the earth is restored and becomes the New Earth, the kingdom of God will reach its full potential and become what it was always meant to be. So when the poor in spirit inherit the kingdom of heaven and the meek inherit the earth, both are inheriting the same coming kingdom.