Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 16), (Isaiah 60), (Matthew 5)
Today’s chapter 60 in Isaiah is a vision of God’s kingdom in operation in its ultimate stage of perfection. Some phrases are taken up and used in the book of Revelation, for e.g. v.19 “The sun shall be no more your light by day … but the LORD will be your everlasting light.” And v.21, “Your people shall be all righteous … that I might be glorified”
This reminds us of what we read last chapter in the Bible about the new Jerusalem, “the throne of God and of the lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him … they will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” [v.3,4]
Those worthy to be made “all righteous” are identified in what the LORD said to Samuel as we read in 1 Samuel ch. 16 today. The prophet is sent by the LORD to Bethlehem where he will find a king who will one day replace the erring Saul. Samuel looks on Jesse’s firstborn and thinks, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him” but no, he is told, “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
This takes our thoughts to our reading in Matthew ch. 5, the familiar Sermon on the Mount. Can it be too familiar? Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” [v.8] Impossible to have a pure heart we might think? True, but it is intriguing to note that the 2 other times Matthew uses the Greek word here rendered “pure” it is translated as “clean.” (in ch.23 v.26 and 27 v.59).When Peter has a vision at Caesarea which impelled him to go to see Cornelius, he heard a voice telling him, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”[Acts 10 v.15] and again exactly the same Greek word (katharizo) is used, rendered here as “made clean.”.
Cleansed hearts will see God! Blessed are they who have cleansed hearts. This leads us to Paul’s words to Titus, so appropriate for us in contending with the mounting impurities that surround us. “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure: both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but ….” [1 v.15,16] Finally see Paul’s words in the next chapter, “… Jesus Christ …gave himself for us to redeem us … to purify for himself a people for his own possession” [2 v.13,14] Our readings picture that ultimate time of “possession” – an incredible time of blessing that both Isaiah and Revelation reveal to inspire those who set their minds so that, with God’s help, they will be among “blessed.”