“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
The word “beatitude” is not found anywhere in the Bible, but it is used in reference to each of the instances where the Bible says “Blessed is…” or “Blessed are…” The word comes from beatus, which is the Latin word for “blessed.” While beatitudes can be found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, far and away the most famous list is the one that begins Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
The Greek word for “blessed” is makarios. The word carries with it multiple shades of meaning. It can mean happy, fortunate, to be envied, satisfied, joyful, or spiritually prosperous. Needless to say, the word packs quite a punch. To be “blessed” in this way is no small thing!
Of all the beatitudes, perhaps the one that has historically been the worst understood is: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The problem has always stemmed from the false notion that meekness equates to weakness. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth.
In the K.J.V., Numbers 12:3 says:
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.
If you think Moses was a ninety-pound weakling who couldn’t take care of himself, you really need to read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Moses was a man’s man, an outdoorsmen who had a hot temper and could singlehandedly kill an Egyptian.
In addition to Moses being described as meek, would you believe that Jesus described Himself in the same way? In the K.J.V. of Matthew 11:29, He says:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls.
This was Jesus, who spent forty days and nights fasting in the Judean wilderness. This was Jesus, who oftentimes slept on the ground. This was Jesus, who lived through a brutal Roman scourging. The idea of Him being weak is preposterous.
In light of Moses and Jesus, it is obvious that meekness means something other than weakness. But what does it mean? I’ll tell you. It means strength under control. The Greek word that is translated as “meek” is praus. It is the word the Greeks used to describe a horse that had been broken. The horse was far from weak, but its strength had been brought under the control of a rider.
You see, Jesus wasn’t calling His followers to lay aside their strength and become milquetoast peons. He wanted them to be strong, especially in terms of spiritual might. But He challenged them to inwardly harness their power and bring it under self-control. Just as a rider can’t use a horse that hasn’t been broken, Jesus can’t do much with a person whose strength isn’t under control.
He did, however, promise an awesome reward for the meek Christian. But that promise would be a long time in fulfilling. As a matter of fact, the world still awaits the fulfillment. One day, though, after Christ has returned to this earth (Revelation 19:11-21) and established His 1,000-year kingdom upon it (Revelation 20:1-4), Christians will indeed inherit the earth and reign with Christ as His bride (Revelation 2:26-27; 5:8-10; 19:6-9).
I feel safe in saying that those who heard Jesus make that promise didn’t truly grasp the correct meaning of it. It was just too far off in the future. But how they must have liked the sound of it! Think of it, a time when the Romans didn’t rule the known world. Dare they dream of such a time? Oh, yes. The time wouldn’t be brought in with military might, though. Yes, strength would be involved, but it would be strength under control. Who else but Jesus would preach such a radical idea? And who else but Him has the power to make it reality?