In Psalm 42 David painted the picture of a thirsty deer lapping up the refreshing waters from a bubbling brook; and Peter admonishes us to crave God’s Word and His righteousness just as a hungry newborn infant seeks to be filled with its mother’s milk.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Psalm 42:1 As the hart [deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Hungering and thirsting is a good illustration of the need to hunger and thirst for righteousness of God. Just as food and water are so necessary for the physical body, God’s Word [His spiritual food] and His righteousness are essential to maintain a godly spiritual condition!
Just as a parched animal thirsts in a dry desert for a drink of fresh cool water; those whom God has called out to follow Him and who are seeking Him with all of their hearts must passionately long to internalize the righteousness of every Word of God and to be filled with God’s divine nature.
The scriptures use vivid images of a thirsty deer, a starving man, a newborn infant, to depict the kind of ravenous hunger and intense thirst and passionate desire for godliness which is needed to become holy as God is holy.
1 Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
If we are ever to be conformed to God’s spiritual image, we need to thirst and hunger after His righteousness; we need to passionately long to learn and live by every Word of God and internalize the very nature of God within ourselves so that we think and live as God thinks and lives.
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
The phrase hungering and thirsting refers to an overpowering motivation and desire to obtain. In the sense that eating and drinking take food and water into ourselves to maintain our physical existence, this is an allegory about the need to take into ourselves the spiritual things of God.
Righteousness is defined by God is to live by every Word of God, including all God’s commandments, statutes, ordinances, precepts and judgments writing God’s words in our hearts and internalizing them into our very being; to become holy as God is holy. These are the things which we are to passionately hunger and thirst after.
The Bible’s definition of righteousness is as follows:
Psalm 119:172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
Deuteronomy 6:24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.
When tempted to seek after material things to satisfy His hunger, Jesus answered:
Matthew 4:4 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
God created human bodies with the need for food and water in order to sustain life. Hunger and thirst are the natural mechanisms by which the body motivates us to fill the needs for food and water necessary to maintain physical life. When we lose the desire for either food and/or water [i.e., lose our appetite] it is often a sign of an underlying health problem. It is the same spiritually; when we cease to hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness it is a sign that there is something very wrong spiritually.
David spoke of the kind of thirst and hunger, and the deep longing for the righteousness and the spiritual things of God, which results in godliness.
Psalm 63:10 God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.
Only those who diligently seek after the righteousness of God with all of their hearts will be in the resurrection to spirit and eternal life.
Jesus Christ has much to say about this subject and expounds upon the life-giving qualities of eating [internalizing] the Word of God and drinking in the spiritual water of eternal life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast [the seventh day of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 7:38 He that believeth on me [and also believes and does what Christ said], as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
The faithful servants of God had a deep desire to know God, to please Him and to be filled with His righteousness. To hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God is to be on fire for Him, to be hot for the things of God and to desire to be like Him in all of His divine nature and attributes.
The Righteousness of Christ
Do we want to be holy as God is holy? That is what truly reflects the righteousness of Christ who lived by every Word of God as an example that we should follow. If we are living according to what is right in our own eyes or in the eyes of the people around us, that is what constitutes self-righteousness.
If our outward works appear to be righteous according to carnal estimation, but at the same time we are filled with envy, competitiveness, lust, hatred, etc, that is not the righteousness of Christ.
The righteousness of Jesus Christ is embodied in the fact that He sought to do the will of God the Father at all times. Jesus was not content in just obeying the letter of the law, nor did He seek to do what seemed right in His own eyes or in the eyes of others. Jesus sought to please God in every aspect of God’s law by living as a continual sacrifice to the Father.
Jesus exemplified for us not just what it means to walk in obedience to the letter of the law, but also to obey all of God’s commandments in the very essence of what those commandments require spiritually.
Jesus was completely in tune to the mind of God, with the same attitude and intent as His Father’s attitude and intent.
The true righteousness of God comes from internalizing the Word of God into the very core of our beings and this is accomplished by continuously hungering and thirsting to study, to learn, to understand, to assimilate, to internalize and to live by every Word of God!
The true child of God desires with all of his heart to please God and avoid all sin, but he is not satisfied to be obedient in that which is simply lawful. He seeks to have the mind of God and to obey Him in his every thought, word, and action.
Being truly led by the Spirit of God and thirsting for God’s righteousness means to be seeking God’s direction in all things regarding both our inner and outer life.
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not [physical] meat and drink; but [internalizing the spiritual things of God] righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
On the other hand, to not have much of an appetite for these things can be compared to those whose love has grown cold and lacking in zeal for godliness. This is the situation in today’s Ekklesia where many are zealous for their organizations, friends, certain men and their traditions; and are not zealous to live by every Word of God.
Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.
The Laodicean’s (as depicted in Revelation 3:14-22) are not really cold, but they have become lukewarm in their hunger for God’s righteousness, content to follow the traditions of men, which means that they are neither hot nor cold. They have let their hunger and thirst for God and His righteousness fall away because they have been deceived into thinking that obeying idols of men is the same as obeying God.
God says through the apostle John that the Laodiceans think that they are rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing.
These members of today’s spiritual Ekklesia say that they are full of godly righteousness and all knowledge already; therefore they do not have strong appetites for God’s truth and righteousness any more, because they believe that they are already righteous, and have all knowledge and understanding.
They have stopped looking for God’s righteousness and for a deeper understanding of God’s Word, for they have been taught that they must just believe and follow what their religious leaders tell them; and that they do not have to search out and prove all things by the Scriptures.
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
The present day condition of the modern day Ekklesia shows by its fruit that there is a lack of this deep hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness.
We are too satisfied with the teachings that we received in the past and we look to our corporate organizations and to our leaders to tell us what we are to do and what we are to believe. The focus is on headcounts, building projects, social activities, how much income is coming in. We become deluded into thinking that God is blessing us with all of these things and that therefore we have no need to hunger and thirst to learn, to understand, to assimilate, to internalize and to live every Word of God.
Brethren, we really do need a revival, an awakening to our need for wholesome spiritual food which is right knowledge, restored truth with deeper understanding, along with the righteousness of God; to be a holy people as God is holy.
We need to stoke ravenous appetites to search out all of the gold nuggets of God’s truth and then to zealously apply them to his life.
We, as individuals and as a collective body, need to be cleansed of all unrighteousness, of all our false traditions and from our looking to and idolizing men and organizations above the Word of God.