For they Shall Be Comforted [Matthew 5:4]
In Isaiah 65, Isaiah prophesies concerning the creating of a new people – a new heavens and earth. The unfaithful, however, would be cast out because of their disobedience.
“You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones, And the Lord GOD will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name” (Isaiah 65:15).
The remnant was in tears because of the destruction of Israel and the wickedness of Judah, but God promised that when the new heavens and new earth would be made that He would remove the voice of weeping from His people.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19).
The New Testament authors tell us that the coming of the kingdom was in connection with the judgement of the wicked and the rewarding of the prophets (Revelation 11:15-19). This judgement would be followed by the coming of the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ (Revelation 21:1-4).
How many sets of new heavens and new earths are there? This is not just similar language, but it is the same language; Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22 are parallel and discussing the same events: the casting out of the wicked ones who rejected the gospel of the kingdom versus the rewarding of the righteous who heeded the warning. One was punished while the other received comfort through their reward (Matthew 16:27-28).
For They Shall Inherit the Earth [Matthew 5:5]
Inheriting the earth – or land – is a promise that has its roots in passages such as Genesis 12:1-7.
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families [seed – DR/ Paul] of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. (Genesis 12:1-7).
To properly understand this text, we must take into account the understanding of Abraham in terms of his inheritance. Paul argues that the seed of Genesis twelve ultimately points to Christ when he wrote, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). The kingdom that Jesus offered the people was not an earthly kingdom but one of a heavenly origin (John 18:36). This is the same type of land that Abraham recognized as the goal of the promises made to Him.
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:14-16).
This is the promise of Matthew 5:5. The question is, does the fulfillment of this promise match the timing of the promises that we have already discussed? The answer is a resounding “yes”. Jesus pointed out in Matthew 8 that the Jews who had no faith in Him would be cast out, but the Gentiles would be able to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God.
“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).
This text will be important for us later, so keep it in your back pocket as we continue to progress in our study. When would the children of the kingdom be cast out? When would this new people be vindicated? We have already established that it was at the coming of the Lord in the first century to judge those who rejected the gospel of the kingdom.
In continuing with our theme, we can also see in the Old Testament that inheriting the land was a promise made to the divided kingdom, and it was indicated to them that they would inherit the land during the days of the Messiah at the time of their restoration. Notice these two parallel passages from Ezekiel.
Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’ (Ezekiel 37:12-14).
My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever. (Ezekiel 37:24-28).
Israel would inherit the land when the people would come up out of their graves. This is the prophetic background behind the imagery that Jesus uses in John 5:24-29 – a passage about the reception of the gospel and judgement for those who rejected it. We know that Jesus is the seed of David, and that the apostles were ministers of this covenant of peace, so the question arises, “Where is the land?” Well, we are in the land. This is what the Hebrews writer declared in Hebrews 12:18-29. At the end of the Old Covenant age, when the wicked Jews were about to be cast out, the Hebrews writer indicated that the faithful had arrived at Mount Zion – the holy mountain prophesied about in Isaiah.