“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
Our focus is the Beatitudes, wherein Jesus outlined eight circumstances of blessedness for believers. (Matthew 5:3-12) During his ministry, Jesus expounded on spiritual principles, such as the longing for righteousness, stated in the Beatitude above.
Israel’s rugged desert topography is a backdrop giving context to many of the Bible’s truths. A “wadi” (Hebrew word meaning dry channel or ravine) often floods during rainy seasons. The word “ein” (as in the Ein Gedi nature reserve) is the term for a spring.
In Israel’s wilderness areas, a wadi or ein can support an oasis and sustain plant, animal, and human life. Such life can flourish with water resources (from a wadi or ein), resulting in gardens, vineyards, palm groves—and indigenous villages or modern kibbutzim.
Water, of course, is necessary for life and sustains food production on Israel’s arable land. More than half of this small country is desert. About 13 percent of Israel’s land is arable and produces the other necessity of life—food! In understanding the life-and-death realities of deserts, we can better empathize with (not-yet-king) David’s desperate wilderness prayer. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)
Yearning for abundant life in Christ, we are not just thirsty: we are parched, desiccated! We are not merely hungry: we are ravenous, famished! We passionately desire right standing with God, wherein we are “without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” (Philippians 2:15) We seize upon Jesus’ promise: “Indeed, the water I give [you] will become in [you] a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14, NIV) We embrace his words in John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”
Physical hunger and thirst become metaphors for our desire for righteousness and Christ’s redemptive gift of grace resulting in genuine and lasting relationship with God. To that end, we humbly repent of our sins and “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:8-17) We seek and faithfully follow God through prayer and Bible study to satisfy our thirst and hunger for righteousness (right standing with God).
Lord Jesus, we yearn “to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly (prayer, St. Richard of Chichester).” Hallelujah, you fill and satisfy us with your abundant life, Lord!
Kay Henry is a columnist for the Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.