In the third and fourth beatitudes, Jesus again announces a counter-intuitive blessing upon a type of individual who is lacking. First he pronounces blessedness upon the meek. Meekness, a word that has lost much of its meaning in our day, describes a condition of being powerless in the eyes of the world. Just like in the first two beatitudes, Jesus is not blessing a virtue, but a void. Meekness goes beyond humility, in that meekness is more than a good quality, but it is a bad condition. Meekness is not a good attitude or a good work, but a countercultural pitiable circumstance. The world despises the meek; there is no praise for those who are timid and unaggressive; to the world, it is the aggressor who struggles his way to the top, it is the self-confident possibility thinker, it is the dynamically assertive, who are likely candidates to get somewhere on earth. But Jesus says that it is the very kind of person who is least likely to possess anything, who will be granted the entirety of God’s green earth. While the idea that “God helps those who help themselves,” is found in most religions of the world, in first four beatitudes Jesus teaches just the opposite: “God helps those who cannot help themselves.” Likewise, in the fourth beatitude, Jesus does not pronounce His blessing on the righteous, but upon those who so lack righteousness, that they are starving for it. What is this righteousness that Jesus is blessing? Does this refer to a moral righteousness expressed in obedience to God’s ways, or does this point to the imputed righteousness of Christ placed on our account, as a result of His perfect life and atoning death?
Finally consider the promises corresponding with these blessings. The meek are promised to be granted the earth; the hungry are promised final and full satisfaction. These promises are rendered in the future tense and are vast in their scope. While there is a present and relevant application of both promises which are met in the Gospel, we must not neglect the future or end-time fulfillment which is much broader and universal. So for example, while the meek are inheriting the earth through conversions that come from the Gospel, there is yet to come a time when the earth will literally be filled with a meek people who are glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Similarly, while those who hunger for righteousness are satisfied by the work of Christ in the Gospel, there is yet a time to come in the last days when the very presence of sin will be eradicated, and the hunger pangs for righteousness will be fully satisfied.