“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
The concept of inheriting land was much more established within the mindset of those who were listening to Jesus at that time than it is with us today. We are used to thinking of the “promised land” as something awaiting us in heaven, something metaphysical, so it’s easy to forget that there is also a physical aspect to the promise. But to the Jews of that day who were living in occupied territory under the rule of a wicked and licentious regime, this promise was all about having a place of their own, a physical land where they could worship the Lord freely and live in prosperity and peace; and the idea that it was the meek who would inherit the land was not exactly new to them either, this same promise appears in Psalm 37, which was written centuries earlier:
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. (Psalm 37:10-11)
Jesus expands this promise by taking it beyond limits of the boundary lines described by Moses in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 34. He is speaking about a future time when the curse of sin will be lifted, the earth and heavens will be made new, and righteousness will reign over all. At that time the promised land will not just be confined to the boundaries established in Numbers – those boundaries will no longer exist – this promised land will encompass the whole earth!
“Blessed are the meek…” Meekness is not an admirable characteristic by today’s standards; we tend to use that term when describing someone who is basically spineless. We think that meekness is synonymous with timidity and weakness. However, the biblical term used here does not carry that same negative connotation. The Greek word, “praus,” used here for “meek,” can be more accurately defined as “strength under control” and is often translated as “gentle.” Jesus uses this very same term later on when describing himself as “gentle and humble in heart” in Matthew 11:29.
As Christians we are all called to meekness, but it is not something that we can produce within our own selves, it is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) We can’t simply say to ourselves, “I’m going to be meek today.” That work is done by the Holy Spirit as he sanctifies us and forms us into the image of Christ, and it often comes by having to endure some very unpleasant circumstances.
Meekness goes hand in hand with Christlikeness. To be meek is to have the same mind in us as Christ had when he humbled himself and took on flesh. (Philippians 2:5-7) We can’t make ourselves meek, but we can humble ourselves, we can surrender to God, and we can take his yoke upon us and learn from him.