Tag Archives: hunger and thirst for righteousness

Illustrations of Righteousness

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. [Mark 9:50 ESV]

Illustrations used by Jesus are meant to drive home the point of His teachings.

Jesus has just come from being transfigured, changed back into who He really is, and then expels a demon from a child. He then explicitly tells His disciples what is going to happen. “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise” [Mark 9:31 ESV].

While they are walking, seeming to forget all which had just occurred, they argue amongst themselves about which of them is greater in the kingdom. Jesus tells them the greatest in the kingdom are those who serve, who place God before anything and anyone else. He draws a child into His arms and tells them whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” [Mark 9:37 ESV]. They must be like a child, who naturally loves Him, to even enter the kingdom. Children are easily taught. People would be better dead than to teach a child to not love Him and to sin. He illustrates the gravity of sin by stating it would be better to physically cut off an appendage, which causes sin, than keep the appendage and continue to sin. By extension, whatever causes sin teaches sin and stymies God’s peace.

He tells His disciples that “everyone will be salted with fire” [Mark 9:48 ESV]. If I am correct in my assessment then “salt” is Christ’s righteousness, a fire which burns away sin.

Everyone is covered with Christ’s righteousness but not everyone stays covered. As the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and points to the grace offered by God through Christ the individual may respond with obedience or rebellion. God commands all to eat from the tree of life, which is Christ. His command is given but not repeated, issued by the direct command of the Holy Spirit to those created in the image of God and able to receive and understand the command. Obedience carries no merit but does bring the blessing of being in His eternal presence. On the other hand, disobedience does carry punishment, the consequence of existence away from the life sustaining presence of God.

Once righteousness has rooted itself in the citizen the affect is more righteousness. Pursuing righteousness produces righteousness. We are called to hunger and thirst after righteousness and in doing so God fills us with that which we need. Righteousness is not a desire or a want but a need. God has created us, and recreated us, in a manner which spiritually needs His moral character more than we need physical food and drink. We need His life to stay alive. It is the evidence of His life in us which the world sees. We are the “salt of the earth” [Matthew 5:13 ESV] which makes us the evidence God uses to show the unrighteous their sin. Because we pursue righteousness we love as only God will and we either draw people to God or they hate us because they hate Him.

But what happens to those who rebel. Salted with the fire of God’s righteousness they are snatched away by Satan because they do not understand it, or are enticed or driven away by the pressures of the world, or are choked and deceived by their own flesh. (See the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23.) Mixed with the impurity of the world and sinful flesh the salt, through trial and testing, is leached away leaving worthless dirt. Those who had salt lost the salt through disobedience until what remains is a person condemned by God because of their one sin of rebellion.

It is no coincidence the last of the seven characteristics Jesus gives is peacemaker. He wants us to have peace with God which results in peace with those with whom we live and work. This is a dilemma. God’s righteousness in us will either draw people to God or drive them away. How can Jesus say “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”?

Jesus attracted people to Himself because He was righteous and at peace with God. Soon, others who pursued unrighteousness and hated Him would kill Him. Facing this depth of anger and hatred and bitterness from those who rebelled against God did not break His righteousness or His peace with God. He was willing to give everything to do God’s will and command. Again, we are faced with a mystery.  He cried out while on the cross “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Mark 15:34 ESV] and then “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” [Luke 23:46 ESV].

He rose from the dead, conquering death.

If our lifestyle and beliefs are not evidence of God’s righteousness as we go then we will either face God’s discipline or His wrath. Peace is the evidence of righteousness working in our life, first with God and then with those around us. Our peace with God, even while facing persecution for righteousness, is attractive. Being a peacemaker is a natural characteristic of the citizen of the kingdom of God.

So is eternal life.

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Conclusion: Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]

If we are honest with ourselves we would draw two obvious conclusions. We are not pure and do not want to be pure. Reality tells us purity is unattainable, existing only in a fantasy world. Therefore, we reject the idea of purity. We would also implicitly state I don’t want to see God. I want to hide from God and I certainly don’t want Him to see me, because I’m not pure. If we were honest with  ourselves.

It is not up to us. We were created for relationship with Him so He might love us. His love is so pure He will love us in spite of our sin. He cannot allow sin to continue to control our lives so He demands we focus, not on the sin and the consequences of sin, but on Him. There is a ripping of one’s eyes away from self to God as the recognition of sin and the realization of its consequences force repentance. There is agony in the defeat of self as we relinquish control and filling as we are changed and become what He desires.

He loves us eternally determining to sacrifice Himself so we might rest in His presence. Sacrificial giving is evidence we are attaining purity of heart as God finishes preparing us for eternity. Yet, our giving is seen as sacrificial only in the eyes of the world. Giving from a pure, selfless heart is not a sacrifice but an act of love.

In the Western world we call an offering or sacrifice a donation. Offerings, usually a percentage of income, are given to God according to our means and how He has blessed. Sacrifices cause discomfort.

In the Hebrew Scripture those who gave God from the first-fruits of their crops and livestock were abundantly blessed by God, as He promised. Those who gave free-will offerings did so because of their love for Him. Sacrifices of obedience are required by God. Free-will sacrifices of love, not required but desired, are acknowledgement of who God is and who we are before our Creator. One may lead to the other. An offering from love is evidence of the condition of the heart.

Those who are His come to a place of complete dependence upon God, having learned to direct their attention toward Him. There is no sudden realization of God’s trustworthiness and faithfulness, but a gradual acceptance and appreciation of Him. At some time during life there is a realization of God’s power and love for us, His mercy.  This gradual, sudden understanding is the beginning and end of God’s work of recreating. One element of His preparing us for eternity.

Purity of heart is one of the essential elements of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has been listing them in the first seven statements of the Sermon on the Mount.

Those who attain by grace purity of heart begin in the depths of rebellion, admitting the reality of sin. They are poor in spirit and recognize the truth of sin in themselves and the world. Taking this first step of admitting the truth about themselves and of God begins the cascading process of becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God. After admitting the truth of sin is the realization of the consequences of  sin, separation from God and life which brings deep, unbearable mourning.

God does not leave us in this state of agony but breaks our wills and gives us a new, strong spirit. His Spirit and a recreated spirit. This happens when  we relinquish control to Him who created us. Meekness is not weakness but God’s strength in us under His control. He changes the whole person not just a part. He wants the whole person not a fraction. Those who are His begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness. And the war begins, for the tug and pull of the world is away from righteousness.

Changing the heart means directing the person to show love toward God and others. Purity of heart is only the second of the three descriptions of love God shows us and the world. Mercy is active love which God shows us and we, because He loves us first, show to others. Purity of heart characterizes God eternal love for us and our selfless love for Him. We will look next at peace, which is God’s love for the fallen shown by our love for them.

Now, in the midst of the war, I want to please God because I am fully convinced, for a moment, of God’s eternal love for me.

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Conclusion

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. [John 6:27 ESV]

Man can live in this physical world and even exist for all eternity without having a spiritually alive relationship with God. But man cannot really live without God. For people created in the image of God living is more than day-to-day existence. Having His image allows us to go beyond the mundane, which we still endure, to vitality and growth with benefits given now which grow in scope and substance for eternity. He created us to fulfill a timeless purpose beginning at birth in the physical world and culminating in eternity. In Him is life. Away from Him is existence without life.

Physical life is impossible without God for “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [Matthew 5:45 ESV]. He has set the universe to follow principles He established which work regardless of a person’s love or hatred for God. He distinguishs between those who are His and those who are not, giving eternal life to the former and withholding eternal live from the latter.

Yet, our physical existences is permeated, bent and corrupted by sin. Even our flesh rebels against God. Those who are His have His Spirit, a guarantee of eternal life. But, this having, this belonging to Him, this being filled with the Spirit exacerbates the consequences of sin in the thinking of the hearts of those declared righteous, revealing the absolute need for God, both temporarily and eternally.

We need Him for more than just for physical life. We need the spiritual nourishment He offers so we might have a strong, binding relationship with He who created and sustains us. Sin continually reveals our fundamental need for God. We were created to have a personal relationship Him and hunger and thirst for that relationship when it is broken and we are separated from Him. The drive for a spiritual relationship is so intense those who hate God will try to fill themselves with any spiritual thing opening themselves to the demonic, condemning themselves to eternal existence without the absolute Source of spiritual life. We cannot feed ourselves. We must be fed by God. Empty spiritual calories might give the illusion of fulfillment but only accelerate starvation.

Jesus is emphatic when He states He is the only source of life. We need physical food, water, air to continue living physically. But, the God of the universe established these physical laws and, at His will, can suspend them for a moment in our time. In Daniel, the three thrown in the fire did not gasp for air but stood with a fourth. “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” [Daniel 3:25 ESV]. We can only speculate who the fourth person was, maybe a theophany, Christ before His incarnation and birth, or an angel of God. We do not need to speculate God sustained them, suspending the physical laws of the universe for a moment. So intense and hot was the fire it killed the soldiers commanded to throw them in it, but not them.

For the woman at the well, doing the mundane but necessary task of drawing water, Jesus offered true water.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” [John 4:13-14 ESV].

That which we need in this world is only a dim reflection of what God says is necessary for true life. Eternal, spiritual nourishment is a right relationship with God. Jesus’ characterizes those who are His in this world as needing and seeking righteousness with the intensity of hunger and thirst.

Even the physical food we eat sustains us for only a short time. Again and again, we must eat or we die. God gave Israel, wandering through the desert on their way to the promised land, manna. When they rebelled against Him and were punished with 40 years of wandering in the desert He continued to sustain them with manna. When they grumbled and complained, rebelled by worshiping false gods, did not trust Him who brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and miracle after miracle, He continued supplying their needs miraculously, every day, with manna. Until they entered the promised land He gave them manna. Once in the promised land He continued to give them food, promised them food, as long as they followed Him with their whole hearts.

Jesus tells us the same. We must want Him with our whole hearts, hungering and thirsting for the righteousness which is only His.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [John 6:44-51 ESV]

For those separated from Him righteousness is a gift given us by God. Enoch sought God with his whole heart, contrary to all who lived at that time. Solomon asked for, and was given, wisdom, knowing only God could lead Israel through him. But, he became unwise, foolish, enticed by the temptations of the world and falling. Ezra, returning from exile, taught the people, and even forced them to learn and practice the righteousness of God. Luke wanted to know the truth of what he was hearing, talked to people, eyewitnesses, studied and examined their testimony, compiled and wrote the truth of what he learned. Each sought God and was given that which only God can and will give.

God calls the whole person not just a part of them. It is the whole person who seeks God and the whole person who finds Him. We cannot divide ourselves into various sections, separating our lives into differing parts, one area remaining untouched by another. Who we are is reflected in every area and everything we do and say. All of the evidence of our whole person is judged by God, evidence of our hunger and thirst for righteousness rendered worthy of praise or of condemnation. God will show Himself and His pleasure to those willing to see, and fill with righteousness those willing to be filled supplying eternal satisfaction.

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is only the midpoint of the description of who the Christian is according to God. It is the evidence of our lives which show the intent of our desires. It is the evidence of our lives which show the satisfaction, the filling of God’s righteousness in those who are His.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6 ESV]

Examples of Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Luke

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [Luke 1:1-4 ESV]

Luke wrote over a quarter of the New Testament, was a sometimes companion of Paul from his second missionary journey to his imprisonment in Rome. While Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years before appealing to Caesar Luke and had many opportunities to interview eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Though his relationship with Paul is understated he accompanied Paul on many of his journeys beginning from his trip from Troas to Macedonia. This verse changes from the third person to the first person telling us when Luke joined Paul’s company. “And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” [Acts 16:10 ESV]. After appealing to Caesar Luke accompanies Paul, who is in change, to Rome. “And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy” [Acts 27:1 ESV]. “And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him” [Acts 28:16 ESV].

Paul mentions Luke three times in his letters (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 24) but he never mentions his own name. When Luke wrote to Theophilus it was with the express intent to tell him the truth. He was not an eyewitness to the events recorded but painstakingly searched for and interviewed those who were. While Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea Luke had ample opportunity to travel throughout the country and collect his information. He interviewed eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. [Acts 1:1-3 ESV]

Luke obviously spoke to many people collecting stories about Jesus. While we don’t know much about the man himself we can see the quality of his work, of his research and writing abilities. He never claims to be an eyewitness but does claim to have spoken with eyewitnesses. He was a careful researcher and used the best Greek to express himself. He used medical terms liberally, words which would not have been used by a poor Jew of Galilee or Judah. He did not use slang nor quote from others. What he wrote was in his own style. His intent was to verify and validate the stories told Theophilus for his assurance.

While there are many stories in the Gospel of Luke found in Mark and Matthew and even John, there are also many unique to his gospel. Over and over he gives points of historical significance from a perspective of the Greek not the Jew. Many have tried to debunk Luke as the author suggesting His historical references are wrong. Over and again, as more evidence is discovered and collected, his historical references have been shown accurate.

While not a biography of Jesus the Gospel of Luke does have a unique vision of the man.  He collected and presented evidence which shows Jesus is who He says He is.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. [Luke 24:25-27 ESV]

Add to this the evidence of the growth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles and you find a complete picture of Christ changing people and making them His own.

Luke did not do this work for himself nor just for Theophilus. He was driven needing to know the truth and to test that truth about the one called Jesus. He did not falter or plagiarize or make up a fantasy. He hungered and thirsted for righteousness by demanding of himself a knowledge of the evidence of what he believed.  He trusted the object of his faith, willing to associate and even care for Paul while traveling to hostile regions and sitting in jails and prisons. He obeyed the commands of his God even when it meant putting himself at risk.

He needed to know.

Examples of Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Ezra

Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, . . . this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the LORD the God of Israel had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him. [Ezra 7:1, 6 ESV]

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. [Ezra 7:10 ESV]

Ezra, a direct descendant of Aaron, Moses’ brother, the first chief priest, diligently followed the pattern of those in his lineage. Today, most people will not care of his lineage, for the ancestors of a person do not make the person. This is not how the ancients thought. Each generation carefully followed those who had come before. They were trained to take seriously the work of their fathers, the reputation of their family, even the honor of their country.

Ezra was a priest, one of the exiles, who may have been born in exile. Being an exile did not extinguish the passion his family had for God, for Israel, the Law of God, or any of the traditions. Exile refined those thoughts and attitudes, purging all that brought about God’s wrath and displeasure. Ezra took seriously his place in Israel, God’s chosen. Scripture states he had “set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules to Israel” [Ezra 7:10 ESV].  He had taken time needed to become intimately familiar with the Law of the LORD. But, he  did not simply study the law. He did the law, applying it to every part of his life. Finally, he was dedicated to teaching the law to those chosen by God.

One of the major attitudes of a teacher throughout time is not the desire to stand before people and teach but the passion to study and learn, to ponder and apply. In many ways it is the teacher who thoughtfully tests truth, bringing truth before his students so they might be further tested and refined. Those who wish to control their students, churning out smaller replicas of themselves, may have the personality of a teacher but do not have the heart. Teachers want to know the truth and be able to explain truth to others so they may know. True teachers want to live the truth even more than being able to explain it to others. If Ezra had never returned to Jerusalem he would still have passionately studied God’s Word. And done it. And taught it.

God prepared Ezra, setting him apart for Himself from before birth for the time when he would be sent by a pagan king to the land of his ancestors and the city of his fathers to teach God’s Word. “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach” [Ezra 7:25 ESV]. If they didn’t know the laws of God, Ezra was to teach them. Teaching people about God was not only his job or work but also his passion and desire.

Ezra gathered together those he would need from the exiles and they returned to Jerusalem. Even in the confidence of a well-thought through theology sinful man will continue to fear. Ezra is no different. God had not finished His work of preparing Ezra to go and teach. He continued working on and preparing the whole person who was Ezra for the immediate task and the eternal position which was his. It is the whole person who follows God and it is the whole person God leads and draws to Himself. All of the kings resources were at Ezra’s disposal and the full power of the kings authority behind his actions. Yet, Ezra saw the difference between the authority of a mere king and the omnipotence of the King of all kings. Where the earthly king could try to protect Ezra and his entourage with force the Eternal King would change the momentary circumstances of the universe to protect Ezra, His servant.

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. [Ezra 8:21-23 ESV]

God set apart Ezra for Himself and for His service and nothing would hinder God completing what He started. Ezra faced his fear of the world with an intimate knowledge of God.

Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are the teachers of God’s Word. Their desire is for God’s righteousness, not their own. For anyone who thinks for even a moment at the direction of the Holy Spirit will see their own sin and its consequences and know imposing their personal, sinful set of laws on others will bring anarchy. God’s moral Law is freedom from sin while the individuals arbitrary code entraps and enslaves. Ezra set his heart to know God and His Word not man’s philosophy and his rambling excuses.

Almost as soon as he arrived in Jerusalem a grievous sin was brought to his attention. It was the sin of Solomon. God’s people who had been left in the area of Israel and Judah after the exile had mingled with other peoples and compromised their integrity before God being influenced by paganism. It does not say explicitly they worshiped other gods but there can be no other result. His chosen people were not pursuing righteousness.

After these things had been done, the officials approached me and said, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations, from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. [Ezra 9:1-3 ESV]

Had they not been experiencing the punishment of God for their disobedience? Was not the exile, the overrunning of Israel, the destruction of Jerusalem, enough to convince them God demands obedience for all His words? Yet the influence of pagan thinking and feeling crept into every facet of their life, a subtle assault upon the calling and setting apart to God with excuses of selfishness. Sin must be hated. The consequences of sin must be felt. Control of self must be relinquished. God will purge sin from those who are His.

Modern, or post-modern reasoning, will look at Ezra chapters 9 and 10 and see something worse than the purging of people by execution when God commanded His people to enter the land He was giving them. How can a loving God rip families apart? Sin rips families apart. God hates sin. Those whom He has set apart for Himself are told, not asked, to purge all sin from their lives. Christians are told to hate sin and love God; to mourn over sin; and to turn themselves completely over to God. When anything comes in contact with us which will bring us to sin then we are to war against it. “If your right hand causes you to sin” or “if your right eye causes you to sin” Jesus tells us to cut it off or pluck it out (see Matthew 5:29-30). While I will not take these words literally, I will take them spiritually and temporally. We, like the Israelites, are commanded to place God before anything and everything in the world, even ourselves.

Ezra’s decision to rip apart families is controversial and I struggle with it. But, we are alive now, not then, and God is speaking to me through His Word now.  Imposing modern thinking upon an ancient people is a subterfuge to ignore or rationalize away the command and authority of God over those who are His. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness do not lust after unrighteousness. They fight unrighteousness with every ounce of their whole person and every sacrifice of temporal stuff which hinders and distracts and leads away from God. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are those who God covers and fills with righteousness

Example: Solomon

Examples of Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Solomon

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” [1 Kings 3:9-14 ESV]

If there is a single spiritual discipline Scripture tells us to seek it is wisdom. For it is wisdom which first acknowledges God and His work and then finally defines the life of a godly person. Wisdom is the confluence of knowledge and understanding with a righteous relationship with God. Wisdom defines our love for God, our decisions, the people with whom we are friends, how we invest our time, how we speak.  Our integrity is shown through wisdom.

Solomon, when asked by God in a dream what He could give him, asked for an “understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil” and this pleased God. Read about Solomon in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. It is obvious Solomon knew God and how God worked. He knew God’s commands and statutes. But, he also knew God’s world, the creation which surrounded him, for he studied many things. He knew what pleased God and what would bring God’s wrath. Examine his prayers. He prayed about the blessings and curses also found in the Law of Moses. Under his rule the people of Israel had peace and prosperity which Solomon acknowledged was a blessing of God.

He was a student and a teacher probing the depths of every subject and seeing its relationship with other facets of life. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt” [1 Kings 4:29-30 ESV]. He was a thinker, writer, musician and poet, giving 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He was a scientist studying biology, botany and zoology. He was a judge and arbiter. He was sought after and listened to. People would come from other nations to hear him speak and see his works.

Solomon hungered and thirsted after righteousness. This does not mean he was a perfect man following God in every detail. For as surely as you are reading this he sinned like us. There is no new sin under the sun. You cannot read Ecclesiastes and come to any other conclusion. Solomon knew the precariousness of his life in this world before God. He reasoned that knowing about the world, about people, even knowing himself, would give him a better understanding of his God. He recognized sin and realized its consequences, both immediate and long-term. He knew wisdom and folly, testing his will with pleasure and work, giving in to every whim or denying himself as a discipline. Not content with simply having he wanted to know why he had, how it worked, when it worked or failed, and what the final results. Confident he would come through every experience with a greater understanding of God, with more wisdom, he delved into the abyss of sin and then rose to the heights of his understanding of righteousness.

Solomon feared God but was unafraid of Him.

He had power and strength, money and control. He listened to God and had God’s ear. But he tempted God and himself. Like David before him God promised to establish him if he would follow Him. He was explicitly told to not turn from God’s statutes and laws to follow other gods. God is God and there is no other. He will not abide anyone worshiping anything other than Himself. Worshiping another god brings God’s wrath. He not only knew the wisdom of God but also of the world and knew the difference. Solomon was a politician, shrewd and capable and pragmatic. While God overlooks some sin, for Christ died for the sin of the whole world, He does not overlook the consequences of sin, especially when He spells out those consequences.

God prohibited His people from marrying anyone who was not a worshiper of God, for the unbelieving spouse would lead their partner away from worshiping the true God (see Ex.34:16 and Deut.7:3). Solomon not only married Pharaoh’s daughter (see 1 Kings 3:1) but he married other daughters of other kings. He met, even embraced, the consequences of his sin which is more sin and the wrath and judgment of God.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice [1 Kings 11:1-9 ESV]

Solomon was a sex addict. He was not driven by a compulsion for sex but by a desire for it, a desire which dulled his heart and conscience. By the end of his life he did not care what the consequences of his sin were. I have an opinion why this happened. During his life Solomon gave himself permission to sin so he might increase his “wisdom.” Such is the actions of those who know the truth because God has told them and those who compromise the truth with the lies of the world. It was not Solomon’s sex addiction which caused his fall and God’s displeasure but that he worshiped other gods in order to feed the addiction.

There is a danger facing those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. It is like every other danger facing us because of sin. It is the danger of explaining away  sin or excusing it through faulty reasoning. We want to justify our sin. Teachers tend to ignore their limitations, unaware of the blind spots which develop as they teach. Teachers, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, often fall victim to worshiping false gods. It is not enough to hunger and thirst for wisdom or knowledge or understanding. These will lead astray. Jesus calls us to hunger and thirst for His righteousness, so we will be filled with Him.

Enoch

Examples of Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness: Enoch

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6 ESV]

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. [Genesis 5:21-24 ESV]

Enoch walked with God. We know little about this man. He is mentioned in five places in Scripture. Three places give the genealogy of Adam (see Gen 5:18-24; 1 Chronicles 1:3; Luke 3:37). Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, was descended from Enoch. In Genesis he is described as one who “walked with God,” an adjective which describes no other person in the descendants from Adam to Noah. Enoch lived in a way which pleased God.

He walked with God. He did not hide from God like Adam and Eve in the garden after rebelling against a specific command. He did not argue with God, trying to justify his sin like Cain after killing his brother. He was not like everyone else who lived at that time. “That the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” [Genesis 6:5 ESV]. Although born in sin, carrying the condemnation faced by every person who has every lived descended from Adam, Enoch sought God.

Enoch had a relationship with God in spite of the internal bent to corruption which would drive every other person away from their Creator. Hindsight, and Scripture, tells us God was drawing Enoch to Himself. We can also say, from the implications of Scripture, God draws all people to Himself, but they ignored Him seeking their own satisfaction, building their own moral codes and placing their own unreasonable expectations others.

All people were closely related by birth. Because of man’s wickedness, the breakdown of everyone’s relationship with God was apparent. However, God drew Enoch to Himself and Enoch obeyed. Perhaps he fought with God, struggling in his mind and heart with knowing and trusting Him. We know Enoch had a intimate relationship with God. Walking with God is not a simple physical activity. Walking with God involves the whole person.

Enoch did not taste death. He was “not, for God took him.” Every other person mentioned died, for God specifically states of them, “and he died.” Every person died because of the sentence of death of Adam. Not Enoch. Hebrews gives us more about Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. [Hebrews 11:5-6 ESV]

Death is the universal sentence for rebelling against God. When God placed Adam in the garden He gave one prohibition on pain of death, “dying, you will die” if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This prohibition was for Adam and everyone descended from Adam. When Adam sinned everyone sinned in him. Even Enoch sinned in Adam. But Enoch did not see death. He was commended by God for having faith, which pleases God. Nothing we do can please God. However, using faith and the tools He has given through the gift of faith pleases Him. Enoch pleased God, not because he worked and did stuff for God but because he used the gift God gave him for Him.

There is only one reason why a person would not taste death who had been sentenced to death. Another took his place and died for him. God’s justice is nor arbitrary but certain. One other person in Scripture did not taste death. Elijah was taken up (2 Kings 2:11) then appears with Jesus at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3-4; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30). Elijah was a man of faith. Jesus who has died for us also died for him. That God decided Enoch and Elijah would not taste death does not mean God set aside the sentence of death for them. They were not perfect, but born in sin and rebellion. They pleased God because of what He gave them, not because of anything they did.

Enoch was a man who pursued righteousness. He loved God and hated sin. He submitted himself to God as His servant, using the tools God gave to live in a world which hated God. He willfully acted according to what he knew was truth. He pursued righteousness with his whole person. Jude sites an unnamed source when he gives the words of a prophecy of Enoch which shows his disdain for everything ungodly.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” [Jude 14-15 ESV]

Enoch hungered and thirsted for righteousness and was eternally filled.