Practical Application of the Word of God
The beatitudes that Christ describes in Matthew 5:3-12 outline for the ekklesia now (and all humanity in the time that God choose to work with each of them) what the spiritual path of converting from our way – sinfulness – to God’s way – righteousness – looks like.
In other words, there will be tangible evidence – fruit – of our individual spiritual growth within the ekklesia – if we are actually doing anything about the word of God (using the gift of God’s spirit to build a close and intimate relationship with Him through prayer, through Bible study, and through taking literal, continual, thoughtful action to apply the wisdom and understanding that God and Jesus Christ have opened up to us) that is concrete and discernible.
It is impossible to, within this contained space, expand on the full richness and meaning of what Christ is talking about here in the beatitudes and throughout the rest of Matthew 5, Matthew 6, and Matthew 7.
(The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John R. W. Stott presents a very exhaustive study of these three chapters in Matthew. While I don’t agree with all of Stott’s theological beliefs and conclusions, he does an excellent job of expounding the meaning of what has become known as “The Sermon on the Mount.”)
In Matthew 5, Matthew 6, and Matthew 7, Jesus Christ is describing what godliness and righteousness looks like and what we as Christians should be like in thought, in words, in action, and in who we are from the inside out.
In short, it’s the very spiritual image of God our Father and Jesus Christ Himself, which is spiritual perfection. It is our lives’ work, our priority, our very reason for existing, and what should be on our minds and in everything we do and are continually.
The beatitudes summarize a progressive process – building blocks, if you will – in which, except for the first one, one cannot exist without the others being who and how we are becoming in the converting process that each of us within the ekklesia and God have covenanted ourselves to (we each promised each other that we would do these things; God always keeps His promises to us, while we, it seems, fail to consistently keep most of ours to Him) at baptism.
These beatitudes, then, tie directly into the spiritual meaning of physically and spiritually preparing for and observing the Passover, the Night of Vigil, and the Days of Unleavened Bread because they are the process of deleavening and unleavening that God and Jesus Christ have undertaken, with our full and complete willingness, engagement, cooperation, and participation (this is where we all tend to fall short more than we don’t) in the process, with each of us in the ekklesia.
However, the last two beatitudes, which also apply within the ekklesia, show what we who are fully committed and working with God and Jesus Christ to become deleavened and unleavened will experience from others in the ekklesia who are fully committed to following humans, man-made organizations, and the commandments and doctrines of humans instead of God and Jesus Christ.
It is a warning for those of us who choose to believe God and Jesus Christ, faithfully following the Lamb wherever He goes, and to live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth.
That warning is the effect of our total allegiance, trust, faith, and obedience to God and Jesus Christ in our spiritual deleavening and unleavening process in the middle of others who are called by God, who are given to Jesus Christ, who have received God’s spirit, but who, like the Israelites, have chosen and made other gods to follow instead of God and Jesus Christ (also see Romans 1:23) and who worship the creation (humans and organizations, among other physical things) instead of the Creator because they have not retained God (through His word) in their knowledge.
When we physically prepare for the Passover, the Night of Vigil, and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we take action.
The first action we take is to completely remove leaven from our living spaces (this is not a wholesale spring cleaning, but instead a very concentrated, planned-out, executed-over-time process to remove what God tells us to remove by the time the Days of Unleavened Bread begin).
Just like my living spaces and your living spaces won’t deleaven themselves, but instead require us to act upon them to remove the leaven, so you and I within the ekklesia cannot deleaven ourselves.
Instead, it is the action of God and Jesus Christ, through their power and through their word and our intimate relationship with them (through prayer, Bible study, meditation on what we study, and fasting to humble ourselves before God and Jesus Christ), that begins the deleavening process in each of us.
This deleavening process is described in the first four beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-6).
This deleavening process is not a one-time thing, nor is it a once-a-year thing, but it is a continuous thing that goes on in our lives for the rest of our time as humans.
In other words, it’s a day-in-day-out process that’s ongoing from the time we are called into the ekklesia, we respond by committing our lives to repenting from our way to God’s way, and are baptized.
Unlike what the ekklesia often hear in sermons a couple of months before these feasts of God begin, the scrutiny, our comprehensive self-examination in light of God’s word (comparing ourselves to God and Jesus Christ alone), and our repentance that these first of the annual feasts of God (as well as the weekly seventh-day Sabbath) that He makes holy teach us are not limited to a couple of months before we observe them.
Instead, this scrutiny, our comprehensive self-examination in light of God’s word (comparing ourselves to God and Jesus Christ alone), and our repentance is our life, our way of life, who and what we are for the rest of our lives all the days of the rest of our lives.
This is one of the egregious errors in human teaching, in my opinion, that has led the ekklesia as a whole astray from 24/7 living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, because most of the ekklesia see this deleavening and unleavening process as short-term and temporary, missing the real meaning that this process is supposed to be a permanent change and a permanent life path forward, with evidentiary progress – fruit – on that path with each passing year of our journey toward the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Sadly, in fact, there is very little difference, in many ways, between the Catholic practice of Lent and the way most of the ekklesia view and “do” the time before Passover, the Night of Vigil, and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
In the physical process commanded by God for these holy times, however, deleavening is not the end of what we must do.
We are commanded by God to eat unleavened bread for each and every of the seven days of the Days of Unleavened Bread (this post gives a full explanation of why the teaching that it’s not mandatory to eat unleavened bread every day of this feast of God is erroneous and misses the entire spiritual application and lessons that we are reminded of annually through rehearsing the commands that God gives us in His word, from which we are not to add nor to take away).
In other words, we remove the leaven from our living spaces, and we fill that resulting empty space with unleavened bread and we eat that unleavened bread for the seven days of the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Spiritually, this represents our new way of life (living and becoming), sustained by the hydration that God’s spirit provides to us and the nourishment that He provides for us with the unleavened bread that we beseech Him for daily (Jesus Christ declares that He is the Bread of Life; therefore, since He is the Word, we eat of the Bread of Life each day by, with the help of God’s spirit, studying and actively and consciously applying God’s word to our lives continually).
The next three beatitudes (Matthew 5:7-9) are the visible and tangible results – fruit – within the ekklesia of God providing for us and us replacing the leaven that is being removed by partaking of His unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
But, as God’s word shows us, not everyone within the ekklesia is actually a member of the ekklesia and those who indeed are actually members of the ekklesia are very prone to wandering in spiritual wildernesses from time to time, to drifting from the truth, and to being trapped in the snares of idolatry.
This results in a pervasive lack of wholeheartedness toward God, Jesus Christ, and the word of God. As this depletion of spiritual loyalty and commitment to God, Jesus Christ, and the word of God alone spreads, takes hold, and manifests itself in various ways throughout the majority of the ekklesia (Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 show us what these general manifestations look like as Jesus Christ Himself describes attitudes and conditions that have, do, and will exist in the body of Christ from the beginning – Acts 2 – to the end of human time as we understand it – Revelation 22), the few who remain and are zealously committed to remain faithful and obedient to God, to Jesus Christ, and to the word of God, no matter what the cost, stand out in stark contrast to the majority.
The last two beatitudes (Matthew 5:10-12) describe the actions of the majority of ekklesia who are not wholehearted and have fallen into various kinds of apostasy, perhaps without even being aware or realizing it because they’re following the crowd of “believers” around them instead of following the Lamb wherever He goes, toward the few within the ekklesia who remain totally faithful to God, to Jesus Christ, and to the word of God, which is the intended spiritual result of deleavening and unleavening.
Does that surprise us?
Christ Himself warns us of this in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 and John 16:2, as well as in the seven letters He writes to the congregations of the ekklesia the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:9, Revelation 2:14-15, Revelation 2:20-24, Revelation 3:2-4, Revelation 3:9, and Revelation 3:15-17).
I strongly urge each one of us in the ekklesia to remember Who holds our crown and that if we are not taking diligent heed to ourselves and being careful to remember and wholeheartedly obey the Word of God it can be taken from us by other people (idolatry of a human, idolatry of organizations, and following humans and organizations instead of God and Jesus Christ are ways that other people can take our crowns), and through Whom alone salvation will be given as a gift to each of us.
What is that worth to you? What is it worth to me? What price are you willing to pay? What price am I willing to pay? What will it cost you physically? What will it cost me physically?
The connectivity of the beatitudes to the spiritual and physical lessons of the Passover, the Night of Vigil, and the Days of Unleavened Bread, considered in the context of the entirety of God’s word, reminds us that physically we must be willing to give up and surrender absolutely everything, even our lives, to be created in the exact spiritual image of God and to grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.