When the captain of the Babylonian guard carried the Jews into captivity, he left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing and gave them vineyards and fields (Jeremiah 39:10). All the wealthy people of Judah, the people of prominence, officials, even King Zedekiah himself, were carted away to captivity but for many of the poorest, poverty was replaced with wealth.
The first of the beattitudes given by Jesus is this: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The spiritually impoverished are the ones who when everyone else is carried away inherit the benevolent rule and protection of God. The poor in spirit are like the poor who were left in the land in Jeremiah’s day. They own nothing in a spiritual sense. They have nothing to offer to God by way of righteousness. They have no basis on which to put a claim on God. Their only hope is in His mercy and grace.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul described the nature of human spiritual bankruptcy. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Spiritual poverty is a reality for every human being. It is not an impairment but an inability, not a shortage of righteousness but a complete absence of it, not merely a lack of fellowship with God but enmity with him, not merely a grave illness but death. To the praise of the glory of His grace, God raises those who are destitute and dead, giving them life, giving them riches in Christ.
We, whose admission is that we have nothing but need, are the recipients of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Being captivated with Christ starts with a de-captivation with ourselves as having anything of ourselves to bring to God. It continues as the eyes of our hearts are opened to know God, to have hope, to have riches in Christ, and to have His power at work in us.