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Yes, They are most definitely promises. The word "beatitude" comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning "blessedness." The phrase "blessed are" in each of the beatitudes implies a current state of happiness or well-being. The expression held powerful meaning of "divine joy and perfect happiness" to the people of the day. In other words, Jesus was saying "divinely happy and fortunate are" those who possess these inward qualities. While speaking of a current "blessedness," each pronouncement also promises a future reward.
Jesus' introduction to his Sermon on the Mount (the so-called Beatitudes) are word pictures that describe the kingdom of God (the rule and reign of God). These 8 verses (Matt 5:3-10) answer three essential questions about the kingdom of God and give us a road map to experiencing the kingdom in our own lives. The questions are: 1. How do we get into the kingdom of God? 2. How do we become spiritually mature and complete in the kingdom? 3. How does the kingdom of God transform the world we live in to become the place God intended? We know this is true for the following reasons: 1. Every verse in this introduction is a direct or indirect reference to the kingdom of God, so he is talking about the kingdom. 2. When Jesus uses the word blessed it means we are obeying the will of God. God wants everyone in his kingdom. God wants everyone Christian to be mature and complete. God wants to transform the world. That is God’s will. 3. The entire Sermon on the Mount describes in detail what life in the kingdom of God is like and contrasts it with life in this world. The first four verses give us signposts on the road to entering the kingdom of God. We acknowledge our spiritual poverty. We mourn our sinfulness, We meekly surrender to Jesus. We hunger for Jesus' salvation. The same four verses give us signposts on the road to spiritual maturity. We acknowledge daily our dependence on Jesus to remain connected to the vine. We mourn our capacity to sin by daily confession and repentance so evil gets no hold on our lives. We meekly surrender to Jesus as Lord and walk with his Holy Spirit into everything God has planned for us. We hunger and thirst to be filled with the Holy Spirit who will transform our lives by his wisdom and power. The second four verses are signposts on the road to transforming the world we live in. We show mercy by loving other people the same way Jesus did, sacrificially, unconditionally, and with the resources (grace) of God. We demonstrate the transformation in our lives by being pure and holy through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. We bring the gospel of Jesus to people to help them find peace with God (their salvation) and we intercede with others to help make peace in all human relationships. We push forward to advance the kingdom of God and push back the dominion of the evil one. In spite of persecution and suffering we overcome evil with good and transform our world for the kingdom of God. In my view, these verses are mistakenly called BeAttitudes. In fact, Jesus has provided us with 8 word pictures that give us God’s entire plan to save and transform his human creation. Even a small child can understand a word picture and join Jesus' eternal kingdom.
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