Blessed Are the Famished
by Cynthia Bowen
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In Matthew 5:16, when Jesus was teaching the Sermon on the Mount outlining the God honoring life, He uttered what I believe is a key to revival, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
The word translated hunger here actually has the idea of a someone with a pining craving. It is a word that carries the innuendo of uncomfortable toil. The person He is referring to is famished, starving for righteousness, a right standing with God. He knows that righteousness is his ticket into God's holy Presence. This person is thirsty...not a little dry, but uncomfortably dehydrated. He has an ardent desire, a passionate craving for God's face. This is a person who stands as David and declares, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." (Ps 42:1)
The hungry people have desired to be right with God, innocent before Him not for the insolent pleasure of saying to a sinful world, "Told you I was right and you were wrong". They have a deeper desire. They know that because they are innocent in His eyes, He gives them access to His Presence and His Face. They have understood that the blessing that comes from His hand is good, but His hand is what shielded Moses from seeing God's face on Mount Sinai. Without any doubt, they know the best blessing is seeing the Blesser.
Psalms 17:15 (Amp) says, "As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness (rightness, justice, and right standing with You); I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake [to find myself] beholding Your form [and having sweet communion with You]."
Jesus promises that the people with this gnawing hunger and desperate thirst are going to be blessed. They are going to have great pleasure, joy, and gladness because God is going to fill or satisfy them. That satisfaction will come to completion when we awake to see Him and when we have sweet communion with Him.
People have sought satisfaction in so many crazy places. We feel a deep ache of emptiness and fill our lives with busy-ness. We find more activities to fill up our time; we work more hours so we can buy more stuff. We look for new relationships or positions of esteem to keep the emptiness at bay. We are confident as we say, " If only I had _______(fill in the blank), then I would feel satisfied." But this hunger cannot be filled with mere things. God alone can fill up this craving. Only He will ever satisfy.
Consider the following:
In Jeremiah 29, the Israelites have been carried away to Babylon. In verse 10, God promises, "I will visit you and keep My good promise to you, causing you to return to this place." Babylon is a picture of a hedonistic world system, looking for self-pleasure through materialism above all else and at any price. God's people are in Babylon, influenced daily by a society seeking pleasure and material gain. Does that sound familiar? Then God visits them.
Consider the promise that follows this one through the next few verses:
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (Amp)
I submit that the Father Himself is the One Who comes and plants the hunger into the hearts of His people. We live in a Babylon, always offering empty pleasure and distractions, to the people of God. It was God's plan all along that we would find no satisfaction in the meager offerings of the world with its shifting values and material poverty. Look carefully at the progression that is revealed in this passage.
1. God plans for our good and to give us hope in our outcome. God has initiated the contact.
2. We call upon Him. God stirs the human heart to seek Him out and we can only respond.
3. We come and pray to God. This shows some effort on our part. We will not accidentally fall into a deep walk with Him. We get HUNGRY enough to put some feet to our search for Him. We come after Him, and put away our busy thoughts and our stuff to pray.
4. God hears us and HEEDS us. Our hunger and thirst for Him gets God's attention. He is looking for those who will get desperate for Him. When Jesus was at the well of Samaria, He gave us a glimpse of God seeking people to worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is looking for us.
5. We seek Him and inquire for Him. Again, some effort has to be exerted here. We do not earn His Presence (how could we?), but this seeking process is just indicative of our hunger. Someone who is hungry and thirsty enough will get up and seek what will fill him up.
6. Eventually, we require Him as our vital necessity. We finally get hungry enough that we realize that we just can't live without His Presence and nothing else will ever satisfy us. We come to understand that just like our bodies will die without breath, He is just as vital to our lives.
7. Finally, we find Him as we search with all our heart.
The satisfaction that Jesus offers is not for those who are a "little peckish" for God's Presence. It is not for the person who is interested in "pattycake" Christianity" with just enough of Jesus to keep them out of hell, but not enough to interfere with what they want to do from day to day. Satisfaction is, rather, promised to the famished....to those who will come after Him with whole-hearted abandon. God's Presence is promised to the hungry.
True revival is not a series of meetings with a speaker, or a few services where we jump and dance. According to Webster's Dictionary, revival means a restoration to vigor, health, or activity; a stirring up; a bringing back to use. The Body of Christ will be restored to the vigor and health of the early Church when we get hungry enough to pull on God's Presence with our prayers and our worship. Can you hear the Spirit calling, Come, Church! All who are thirsty come to the waters and drink!
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