In his legendary sermon on the mount, Yeshua laid the foundation for Kingdom righteousness. Interestingly, this foundation is based on principles taught in Torah – the Law. Yeshua never told us that Torah would be abolished. Rather, he claimed to be the fulfillment or completion of the Toraha. His life shows us what we will become when we are made complete by obeying it. This is a covenant promise that is fulfilled upon our resurrection. So there remains a requirement of obedience to the Torah for every professing believer in the Messiah.
What It Means To Be Righteous
Scripture informs us that righteousness is something that has to be practiced.
Little children, let no one deceive you: the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.1 John 3:7
If you were to look up the definition of the word righteous, it would be defined as “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.”1 It is remarkable that this description aligns with the Hebrew word for righteous, which is tsaddiq2 a word which connotes conformity to a moral or ethical standard.
Yahuah is righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works.Psalm 145:17
The earliest uses of tsaddiq pertained to the role of judges, whose decisions were to be in accordance with the truth and without partiality. (Leviticus 19:15) The term also applied to weights and measures. (Leviticus 19:36)
Blessed are those who uphold justice, and those who practice righteousness at all times.Psalm 106:3
When you practice something you do it repeatedly in order to develop a level of proficiency. As followers and imitators of our High Priest Yeshua, we are expected to practice righteousness. Using him as our example, we walk in his “way.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
How do we practice righteousness? We obey the terms of the covenant that are laid out in the Law.
Moreover Yeshua Mashiach said to his talmidim, “Do not think that I came to throw down the Torah and the Prophets, on the contrary, I came to confirm. I say unto you in truth, that not one word will be diminished from the Torah – that it would not be perform until the end of the world.” [Gospel of Matthew translation3]Matthew 5:17
Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the Law.Psalm 29:18
There remains a requirement to obey Torah for every professing believer in Yeshua. This mandate is in addition to trusting in what our Messiah, as our High Priest, will do for us in terms of bringing about our future resurrection.
Yahuah (YHWH) defends those who remain in covenant with Him. The linking of righteousness and salvation is grounded in the concept of covenant. In this way, Yah’s righteousness is demonstrated through His fidelity to promises made. No justice of His can be satisfied any other way.
Biblical Israel4 consists of believers from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people who have put their faith in Yeshua for redemption. This process, also known as sanctification, is carried out by our High Priest and will reach its apex at the resurrection. Through faith and obedience, we have been grafted in. (Romans 11)
For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children…but the children of promise are counted for the seed.Romans 9:6-8
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Yeshua Moshiach.And if you are Moshiach’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:28-29
But First Comes the Test
Prior to giving his sermon in the Galilean countryside, Yeshua spent forty days being tempted (tested) by the devil. Satan’s attempt to entice him with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life5 would fail miserably.
After hearing of John’s imprisonment, Yeshua began his ministry with the same words that had been spoken by the Immerser: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) The start of Yeshua’s ministry was the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
Like our merciful Savior, every believer should expect to be tested. These tests are designed to build our faith and reveal our true character. They also confirm the trustworthiness of covenant promises for those who meet life’s challenges.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.Hebrews 4:16
We are told that Yeshua also went about the region teaching in synagogues, casting out demons, healing all kinds of sickness and diseases, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.
So now the stage is set. Multitudes from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and “beyond the Jordan” flocked to him. And from his elevated (literal and figurative) position on the mountain, he taught them.
What Does It Mean To Be Blessed?
At the beginning of his sermon, Yeshua lists certain character traits of those who are truly blessed — traits that are peculiar to this Kingdom and no other. To those who gathered on the hillside that particular day, this must have sounded like crazy talk. They, like us, no doubt believed that real happiness came in the form of riches or beauty, or material possessions. But Yeshua would explain that true contentment comes from within and is not situation-dependent or rooted in pride.
There are two verbs in Hebrew meaning “to bless.” One is barak and the other is ashar. Barak is used by Yah when He blesses someone. On the other hand, “to be blessed” (ashre), one has to do something. Usually, this something is positive.
For example, a blessed person is one who trusts in Yah without equivocation. (Proverbs 16:20) A blessed man is one who comes under the authority of Yahuah’s revelation — His Torah. (Proverbs 29:18) The man who is generous to the poor is blessed. (Psalm 41:1)
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or set foot on the path of sinners,or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Law of YHWH, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, and who prospers in all he does.Psalm 1:1-3
The Beatitudes: 8 Blessings We Should All Seek
At the start of his sermon, Yeshua revealed the open gate to the Kingdom through which each individual must enter alone. (Matthew 5:1-12)
For those of us who earnestly desire to become worthy citizens of this Kingdom, these Beatitudes shed new light on behaviors we should exhibit and the character we must demonstrate.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The first blessing emphasizes the importance of humility. The “poor in spirit”, those who have nothing but themselves to offer, are awarded VIP status in this marvelous kingdom. Yeshua turns perceptions upside down as he explains that the chief glory and distinction of the heavenly kingdom will be humility. We are to mimic him. (Matthew 11:9)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
The Gospel of the Kingdom provides a much-needed source of comfort for those who mourn over the sins they’ve committed and forsake them. Other remedies will never reach this level of consolation for the soul. The comfort we seek comes in the form of promised forgiveness and peace that comes from the hope of a better world. (2 Corinthians 7:10) (Isaiah 61:1-3) (Luke 4;18) (Matthew 11:28-30)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Those who are gentle, kind, forgiving, and benevolent are meek. Meekness is not weakness — quite the contrary. Meekness demands that we be patient with people who have injured us, knowing that vindication belongs to Yah alone. (Romans 12:19) Yeshua is the very model of this. Meekness produces peace and it is a testimony to the greatness of one’s soul. (Proverbs 15:1) It takes strength of character and great discipline to be considered meek. Those who exhibit these character traits will inherit the kingdom. (Isaiah 60:21)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
These are people who are striving to live out the Torah. A strong desire for anything in the Scriptures is often compared to the strong pull of hunger and thirst. (Psalm 42:1-2) (Psalm 63:1-2) (Isaiah 55:1-2) The Most High will always satisfy our spiritual longings when we sincerely desire them. There is provision made in the Gospel for those who truly desire to be set apart (holy) for the Kingdom. (Isaiah 65:13)
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
People who show mercy, compassion, and patience can expect to receive blessings. That Yahuah is the epitome of mercy is demonstrated in the fact that He has withheld judgment against guilty sinners. His mercy was personified in the person of Yahusha whom he sent to redeem those who repent. Those who are merciful will receive mercy now and at the judgment seat. (Matthew 10:42) (2 Samuel 22:26-27) (Matthew 6:14-15)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the Most High.
Those having integrity, godly character, and moral courage will experience Yah’s presence now and in the Kingdom to come. Disciples who fall in to this category are those whose motives are pure. Of course everyone is destined to meet our Creator, many will encounter Him as Judge, not as a Father. (Revelation 22:4) The latter will dwell with Him in the New Jerusalem on earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of the Most High.
Sons and daughters of the Most High are those who avoid strife and contention while laboring to extinguish it in others (and situations). These are Yah’s legitimate offspring by reason of their likeness to the Father.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
These are those who are persecuted for their commitment to Torah (living righteously) and holding up under pressure; faithful to the end. Martyrs throughout history are in this category. True Prophets of the Most High are also in this category. (Luke 6:23) However, we are not given permission to treat others harshly through inappropriate behavior. We should strive to live righteously, holding up under pressure, and faithful to the end. (2 Timothy 3:12)
From Pride to Humility
In his book Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, Andrew Murray observes that meekness is the chief mark by which those who follow the Lamb are to be known. He astutely observes that humility (the entire dependence on Yah) is the first duty and highest virtue of the creature and the root of every virtue:
And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. […] Even so, it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of Gehenna (hell).[…] And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us.
Whereas Satan exalted himself in his lust for power6, our Messiah humbled himself for our sake. Yeshua taught the multitudes on the mountainside (and us) that humility is the only path to the glory of the Almighty and entrance into His Kingdom.
We inherited the unsavory character traits of pride and rebellion from our parents in the garden. But sin will not have the final word. Messiah’s chief glory was his humility. When we take on his yoke and learn from him, we will experience the highest level of blessedness in this life and the one to come.
“And see, I am coming speedily, and My reward is with Me, to give to each according to his work.“I am the ‘Aleph’ and the ‘Taw’, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. “Blessed are those doing His commands, so that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of life, and to enter through the gates into the city. “But outside are the dogs and those who enchant with drugs, and those who whore, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and all who love and do falsehood.Revelation 22: 12-15 The Scriptures 2009
In Part II we will take a deep dive into the ethos of the Kingdom as we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount.
1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, (11th ed.). (2003). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
2 Tsaddiq (#H6662). The Greek word for righteous is (#G1342) Dikaios: (an adjective, derived from dikē, “right, judicial approval”) – properly, “approved by God”; [HELPS word study] In a wide sense “upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God.” [Thayer’s Greek Lexicon]
3 The Hebrew Gospels from Sepharad, the Gospel According to Matthew, translated by Justin J Van Rensburg, Version 2.2; a literal translation of a medieval Hebrew manuscript in the Vatican Library, Vat. Ebr. 100, March 2020, page 12
4 The word Israel (#H3478) is actually composed of two names: saraw (the root of the word shar) which means “to prevail or have power” and El meaning “strength, mighty, Almighty, or strong.” However, in Joshua 10:13 there is a joining of Yah with the word shar to spell Yashar (#H3474) (Jasher) and also in 2 Samuel 1:17-18. Yashar’el translates to mean “the prince of Elohim in Yah. (Genesis 32:28) The nation of Yashar’el (Yacov/Jacob) is the “people who are called by my name” in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (not Christians, since Christ is a title and not a name).
5 Genesis 3:6. Interestingly, the seed of pride that was sown in Eden that brought forth sin would be replaced by humility in the person of Yeshua who will bring about redemption.
6 Isaiah 14:12-15
a Torah means “teaching, instruction, or guidance.”