Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 16), (Isaiah 60), (Matthew 5)

    We have a remarkable chapter in Isaiah today; a number of its verses reflect some in the final chapters in Revelation that we read a few days ago.  They picture the ultimate time to come when the perfect age is reached and the whole world becomes a garden of Eden populated by perfected people.  This is what God intended from the beginning of creation with Jerusalem as the centre of worship, 
    In Isaiah we read “ … they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel … I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.” [60 v.14,15]   Verse 19 also anticipates what is portrayed in Revelation 21 (v.22-27), “The sun shall no more be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light,  but the LORD will be your everlasting light …”    Isaiah’s chapter ends with the words. “I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it.” This is reflected in the use of the word “quickly” in Revelation, it occurs 3 times in its last chapter.  The leaders in the world today have been increasingly uncertain about the future. Many nations are in trouble: the physical nature of the earth is equally worrying them, ‘climate change’ cannot be halted.  But, in particular, and this is what they are not concerned about, the spiritual darkness has become intense.  Note the 2nd verse of our Isaiah chapter, “ … behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise …”
    In Matthew’s Gospel we read the remarkable 5th chapter!  But note first that Jesus is not teaching the “great crowds (that) follow him” (last verse of ch. 4) but, “seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain and when he sat down his disciples came to him.  And he opened his mouth and taught them …” [v.1 & 2]  All of us who believe we are genuine disciples, or aim to be, must see this teaching as personally addressed to us.
    “Blessed are the meek (gentle), for they shall inherit the earth. (not heaven) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” [v.5-8]  The Gk word for ‘pure’ is elsewhere in Matthew translated as ‘clean’ (23 v.26; 27 v.59).  Are you cleansing your heart?  Read Ephesians 5 v.26.    But as well as cleansing, being meek, thirsting for righteousness and merciful, we must also remember Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons (and daughters) of your father who is in heaven.” [v.44,45]