The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

God will bless the meek man. He will “inherit the earth” (Mt. 5:5). David had more to say about meekness than any other (Psa. 22:26; 25:9; 37:4; 76:9; 147:6; 149:4; cf. Isa. 29:19) and he is the one who first used the phrase inherit the earth (Psa. 37:11). This verse refers to the Abrahamic land promise (Gen. 12:1-3). It originally applied to the Jews receiving Canaan for an inheritance and later came to mean, in Jewish thought, a person who was fully blessed of God.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many other religious groups, misinterpret passages like this (e.g., Ecc. 1:4; Psa. 37:29; Psa. 93: 1), to say the earth will last forever. They fail to realize that the word in the Old Testament “forever” often carried the meaning of (1) A long period of time; (2) Throughout the appointed time; (3) Until the end of a given age. Consider the usage of the word forever in other places (Gen. 13:15; 17:8,13; 43:9; 44:32; 48:4; Ex. 12:14; 21:6; 40:15; Lev. 16:34; 24:8; Num. 25:13; Deut. 28:45-47; Jos. 4:7; 1 Chron. 15:2; 2 Chron. 33:7; 1 Sam. 1:22, 26-28; 2:30; 20:15; Psa. 23:6; 125: 1; 145:13).

 

Further, the Bible teaches that this earth will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:8-13; 2 Thes. 1:7-9). The word translated “burned up” (katakaesetai) literally means “shall be burned down.” The Latins would say exuretur (shall be burned out) while we say shall be burned up. All of these carry the idea of complete consumption. The word is translated “shall be utterly burned” in Revelation 18:8. This passage does not teach the doctrine of a renovated earth. Still further, the phrase new heavens and new earth contributes to this position. There are two words which could have been used for “new” – kainos and neos. Neos denotes the new primarily in reference time (young, recent). Kainos denotes the new primarily in quality (fresh, unworn). Kainos is used here (2 Pet. 3). Vine, speaking of Neos, observed . may be a reproduction of the old in quality and character…” However, Vine does not make any such observation concerning the word kainos.

 

What does it mean then? The phrase in Matthew 5:5 is figurative of the fact that one will inherit God’s richest promises (cf. 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1; Rm. 8:17). Inherit (kleronomeo) refers to receiving one’s allotted portion. Regardless of who holds the civil titles to the properties of the earth, this is our Father’s world. He owns the earth (Psa. 24: 1) and He lets the meek share it with Him (cf. Mt. 19:27,29; Mk. 10:29,30; Eph. 1: 11). It does not mean that they will have an abstract deed on record at the courthouse. He may not have an inch of land, but he will enjoy everything good that this world has to offer (I Cor. 3:21-23; 1 Tim. 6:17). He will enjoy the earth.

 

Glad Tidings of Good Things

Vol. 7/September 26, 2002, page 3

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