Psalm 24:3 - Ascension
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?Psalm 24:3
When I sat down to write this column centering on the topic of the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, I was drawn to Psalm 24 and the question posed there by the worshippers of God, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?” This psalm brings the reader back to a time of Old Testament worship. One can imagine the worshippers getting ready to ascend the hill upon which Jerusalem was built. The question they ask is, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” The answer is, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.” The kind of worshipper that the Lord seeks is someone whose deeds and heart are pure. This someone must love God and his neighbour.
Today we no longer worship in the manner of the people of Old Testament times. We do not gather together in order to make the ascent up to the temple in Jerusalem. That temple no longer exists for Jesus Christ has ascended to the heavenly temple of God. Yet, we must still ascend, for God seeks our worship in his holy place. Such is also the generation of those who today seek the face of the God of Jacob. So we must ask each other the question, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” And the answer remains, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”
What does this mean? The question that any honest worshipper will ask at this point is this: “Is there anyone who qualifies?” If the requirement is absolute moral integrity then indeed, no person can make such a claim. But this psalm is not asking for absolute moral integrity. This psalm is not making our perfection a prerequisite for seeking the face of God. This is clear from verse 5 where the blessing the worshipper receives is described. This blessing is vindication from God his Saviour.
If perfection is possible a Saviour is not necessary. But here the Lord God is described as a Saviour granting vindication precisely because there is no perfection among the mass of sinful humanity. And yet when out of that mass of sinful humanity there comes to God in worship those who admit their sins, who believe in their Saviour and confess Him in word and deed, then they shall receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from the God of Jacob.
You will receive the blessing of absolute righteousness as you seek the face of God with a heart and a life that are filled with love for Him and your neighbour. You will receive it because the Lord God is a gracious Saviour. You will receive it because there is One who has ascended the hill of the Lord in absolute moral integrity. You will receive it because there is One who with his perfect holiness now stands in God’s holy place. You will receive it because of Jesus Christ. He is your Saviour. When He ascended into heaven He brought with Him that once-for-all perfect sacrifice that He offered for the sins of his people. The gates of heaven opened to receive the King of glory who had conquered sin and Satan at Golgotha.
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper the warning is given that all those who either in word or conduct show themselves to be unbelieving by leading an offensive life shall not take of the food and drink of Christ. Who then are to come to the table? Is it those with absolute moral integrity? Is it only perfect people? No, it is people who show in their lives that they desire the absolute perfection that God graciously gives in the Saviour, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ.
As we remember at this time of year the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ let us reflect on how this ascension encourages us to be a generation of God’s people that rightly seeks his face. Let us show in our lives that daily it is our desire to seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. It is such people the Father seeks to worship Him. When we lift our hearts to the ascended Christ there remains also today the promise of his blessing.