The Similitudes of Beatitudes

The Similitudes of Beatitudes - The parable of salt and lightA couple of weeks ago, we had Scripture reading of Matthew 5:1-12. In that passage, Jesus opened His Sermon on the Mount by introducing to the disciples and gentiles The Beatitudes – the guidelines for saints and believers. This “sermon” probably covered several days of preaching.

Christ continues with The Similitudes.

Matthew 5:13-16 King James Version (KJV)

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Unlike with the beatitudes, where they were presented by Jesus as a code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers, Christ gives functional definition and description of the believers in case with similitudes.

BOOK OF JOB

Let’s pause here before unfolding the meaning of The Similitudes, let me bring you back in the year 1900 BC.

This is an approximate time when the book of Job was written. This book records the story of Job, a righteous man who lived in the land of Uz. He responds with faith to serious trials, like loss of his children, property, and eventually his own health.

Brief review of the Book of Job chapter 20

Please, read chapter 20 from the book of Job. In this chapter Zophar, the third friend to speak to Job, was least courteous among the two other friends Eliphaz and Bildad. Full of anger, he lashed out at Job, saying that Job deserve more punishment, not less.

In Job’s response to Bildad, he had warned his “comforters” that they themselves would face God’s wrath because of their baseless charges against him (Note Job 19:28-29). That is why Zophar, stung by this warning, proceeded to criticize Job even more bitterly than ever.

Job’s warning to his friends

28 “How dare you go on persecuting me,
    saying, ‘It’s his own fault’?
29 You should fear punishment yourselves,
    for your attitude deserves punishment.
    Then you will know that there is indeed a judgment.” (Job 19:28-29 NLT)

Zophar’s response to Job

yet they will vanish forever,
    thrown away like their own dung.
Those who knew them will ask,
    ‘Where are they?’
They will fade like a dream and not be found.
    They will vanish like a vision in the night. (Job 20:7-8 NLT)

Although Zophar was wrong in his unjust criticism against Job, he was very correct about the final end of evil people. At first, sin seems enjoyable and attractive. But in the end, God’s justice will prevail. Punishment may be deferred until the very end – the Final Judgement. But we should not follow the world with its corrupt understanding of blessings.

the meaning of THE SIMILITUDES

If the understanding of The Beatitudes of Jesus may be fuzzy and ambiguous, everyone should be able to comprehend Christ’s parables. I don’t know if you have noticed, but every time when Jesus gave some teachings, they are followed by series of parables, to make sure that the gentiles and even His disciples got full understanding of the meaning of His teachings.

In case with The Similitudes, it is Christ’s description of The Beatitudes.

The Salt of the Earth

According to Jesus, world has lost the true taste of life, as it was intended by God. Lying, coveting, stealing, murdering, oppressing others, making wars for own profit brings temporary gain and joy to those who practice these sins. So, Christ assigns His followers to be “the salt of the earth”.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13 KJV)

Salt is both a preservative and flavor enhancer. But what a use of salt if not as a seasoning? Christians should affect others positively, just like seasoning brings out the best flavor in food. We, as the followers of Jesus Christ, must not just keep His teachings, but spread His word, The Gospel, around the world.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  (Matthew 5:14-16 KJV)

The Light of the World

“A city that is set on the hill cannot be hid”. Very likely that Jesus was speaking of the six cities of refuge provided in Israel: Kedesh, Shechem, Kiriath-arba, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan (Note Numbers 35:15; Joshua 20:7-9). All the cities was set on hills, so that they could be seen from afar.

If we live for Christ, we will glow like city lights bringing others attention. In us the world must see God’s image: His love, mercy, grace, righteousness, humbleness, obedience and self-sacrifice. We must not hide our light by: being silent when we should speak; following the world’s trends; denying and being ashamed of Our Lord Jesus Christ; letting sin dominate over us; not spreading the Gospel; and being numb to needs of others.

As Christians, we must be a beacon of truth for His Glory.

References: The Henry Morris Study Bible – KJV; The MacArthur Study Bible – ESV; Chronological Life Application Study Bible – NLT
SLJ Institute, “the Similitudes” by Dr. S. Lewis Johnson; The Beatitudes and the Similitudes – A Dig Deeper Devotional Series
Images taken from: FreeBibleimages, thank you!

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