“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor… to preach deliverance to the captives…to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19)
The “captives” to whom Jesus refers are the “poor,” who due to their debt were traditionally in Near Eastern society bound into slavery. To these individuals, Jesus states, “Blessed, (meaning literally “O how happy you will be”) in the Lord’s kingdom" (Matt. 5:3).
Jesus’ statement, “blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” is a similar promise that the poor who hunger and thirst will be taken care of in his kingdom (see Matt. 5:6). The term “righteousness” in this passage is a translation of the Greek feminine noun dikaiosunen meaning “justice.” It appears in the Septuagint as a cognate for the Old Testament term sedeq, which describes the “justice” that the righteous should impart to those held captive to the bonds of financial poverty:
“Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4) Hence, Jesus promise to those who help the poor: "blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (v. 7).
This same theme appears in modern revelation, where the Lord promises the poor that they will be "blessed/happy" in his kingdom:
"Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation... For behold, the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice" (D&C 56:16-19)
This interpretation of the Beatitudes works well with king Benjamin’s summary of Christian values as taught in the Book of Mormon:
“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 4:16-19)
Note that Benjamin specifically states that individuals who refuse to give to the beggar under the guise that the person has not earned the right for help “hath no interest in the kingdom of God.”
No wonder in his own efforts to build Zion, the kingdom of God, the Prophet Joseph sought diligently to establish a financial order that would eradicate poverty. This effort is fundamental to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Edited by David Bokovoy, 17 November 2010 - 10:22 AM.