“…I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God’s promise to Abraham in the beginning of Genesis 12 is God’s covenant promise to set apart a people that bear His name. God has kept his promise…all the families of the earth have been blessed – through Jesus, who is the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham!
In Matthew, we see Jesus clarifying what it means to be “blessed.” He opens with “blessed are the poor in spirit,” which at first glance, doesn’t seem to be a “blessing.” But Jesus is defining what “blessed” looks like in God’s kingdom, not man’s. This is the first blessing in a list of “Beatitudes.” It’s important to note that the Beatitudes are not a list of qualifications to enter God’s kingdom, but rather a list of characteristics that are bestowed to Kingdom citizens – they come from the transforming work of the Spirit. In other words, it is impossible to possess the blessings of the beatitudes apart from faith in Christ.
Abraham was learning first hand what it meant to be “poor in spirit.” In today’s reading, we see Abraham at the height of faithfulness (when he moved his entire household down to the land God would show him) and in the depths of sin (when he lied to Pharaoh and endangered his wife).
In Genesis 14, after Abraham had secured a great victory in war (in heroic Braveheart style!), and was returning home with much spoil, he met a mysterious King. He was called priest of God most High (vs. 14:18). The writer of Hebrews identified this King as a forerunner of Christ (Heb 7). This King, named Melchizedek, challenges my “Braveheart” image as he reminds me that Abraham only found success in battle because of God. Melchizedek said to Abraham,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
Melchizedek reminded Abraham that he was poor in spirit. He had nothing within himself to offer to God. His greatest triumphs both in battle and in faithfulness came from God, alone. Like Abraham, I am poor in spirit. I have nothing to offer Jesus, and he calls me blessed because of it. This is amazing grace!