Summary: Who will be blessed by the Lord. One of the qualities of the believer.

"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."

The theme of the whole Bible is that God's purpose is to call out for Himself a holy people, set apart from the world to belong to Him and to obey Him. This people's work is to be true to its identity—to be holy and to be different from this world in outlook, attitude, speech and conduct. To this end He has called us to be "in Christ" and to grow to the measure of the stature of His fullness through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Undoubtedly, Jesus lived His life just as He instructed His disciples to live when He spoke from that mountain 2,000 years ago. The principles He enunciated are eternal. They apply just as surely to us today as they did to His original audience.

Notice what God tells Israel just after He brought them out of Egypt:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, : I am the LORD your God! So don't follow the customs of Egypt where you used to live or those of Canaan where I am bringing you. I am the LORD your God, and you must obey my teachings. Obey them and you will live. I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:1-4

Because He was their God, the covenant God, and they were His special people, they were to be different from everybody else. They were to keep His commandments and not take their lead from those around them.

God thus admonishes Israel in Deuteronomy 12:29-31:

" When the LORD your God eliminates the nations from the place where you are headed and you dispossess them, you will settle down in their land. After they have been destroyed from your presence, be careful not to be ensnared like they are; do not pursue their gods and say, “How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.” You must not worship the LORD your God the way they do! For everything that is abhorrent to him, everything he hates, they have done when worshiping their gods. They even burn up their sons and daughters before their gods! "

But the centuries of history that God records in the Old Testament testify that Israel kept for-getting their God-intended uniqueness. They kept becoming assimilated to the peoples around them.

As Psalm 106:34-38 says of them:

"They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them, but they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood."

Israel did not merely neglectfully drift into worldliness. Some individuals undoubtedly did, but Ezekiel and Samuel make it plain that Israel as a whole greatly desired to be like the nations around them. Ezekiel 20:32 says:

"What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, "We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone."

Notice Samuel's experience with this desire:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations." . . . The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." (I Samuel 8:4-5, 19-20)

God pleaded with them, "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles" (Jeremiah 10:1-2), and through Ezekiel He cried out to the same generation, "Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God" (Ezekiel 20:7).

No matter what area of communal life- whether religion, government, economics, national defense, entertainment, fashions or education, Israel persisted in turning a stubborn neck and deaf ear to God while openly seeking the ways of the nations around. It is no mystery why God allowed His judgment to fall on both Israel and Judah:

"For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. . . . Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight." (II Kings 17:7-8, 19-20)

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