Psalm 24, part 10 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“Who is he, this King of Glory?
Yahweh of armies—
He is the King of Glory!
And now David brings this psalm to a dramatic close. Once again the question is asked, though with minor variation, who is this King of Glory? And, indeed, the answer is a resounding, Yahweh! It is God who is the King of Glory, it is God who will provide his Messiah, and it is God who will be the Messiah himself, though we should not assume that David understood all of the ramifications of what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write. But, oh, beloved, psalms like this are good for the heart. When you get down in the dumps or blue about what happens to be going on in your life, turn to this psalm and sing the words it contains. You don’t need a specific tune, just make one up as you go (though if you are more gifted than I musically, you may want to use a tune provided in a good psalter), but just sing these words. Oh, beloved, it is hard to stay down in the dumps when you sing of God’s glory and of the glorious hope that is found in His Son. Words like these lift the heart to sing even when the events of life form like a bog around you. Do not despair, loved ones, we have a Messiah that is mighty and strong and we have been called into the royal service of the great King of Glory!
This verse contains a funny little Hebrew word at the end of it (as does verse 6) that no one really knows what it really means. The word hl’s, (selah) is a word that is found 74 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and predominantly in the book of Psalms (also 3 times in Habakkuk), but little is known as to what it means or signifies. It seems to be a musical term of some sense, and many think that it is meant to give instructions either to the singers or to the musicians. Some have put forth that it marks an instrumental interlude, for example, and others have suggested that it is a sign to the singers that they should raise their voice as they sing the words that immediately precede it. We just simply don’t know, and we must simply leave it as a curiosity of an ancient language that we do not understand. Yet, whatever this term means, it is clear that this psalm hits a crescendo as they hit this verse. You can almost hear the singers raising their voices to a near shout as they sing God’s praise.
And who is this King of Glory? It is Yahweh of armies. Many of our Bibles translate this as “hosts,” but in our English language, the term “host” has lost much if not all of its militaristic flavor. Once again, here is God depicted not simply as King, but as a glorious King who is victorious in battle, first because of his heroic valor and now because of the host of armies that he has at his side. Indeed, God has myriads of myriads of angels at his command—a heavenly host that infinitely surpasses even the greatest of human armies. And this is the King we serve! Why then do we fear the powers of this world? Why then do we fear the one who can kill the body but not the spirit? Why then are we intimidated by the threats of the enemies of our God? Our God is more mighty than all of these combined, and our God has promised to preserve us through the grave unto eternal life. When we stand threatened, beloved, cry out with the apostle Paul, O Death, where is thy sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55) Oh, beloved, we serve a King who is greater than all the greatness of this earth. Do not fear, for you are in the Lord’s service.
Be lifted up everlasting doors,
The King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord strong and mighty!
Open your gates to the Lord of Hosts!
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord mighty in battle,
The King of Glory shall come in!
The King of Glory shall come in!
Psalm 24, part 9 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“O Gates, you shall lift up your heads!
And lift up the eternal doors!
The King of Glory shall come in!”
With great excitement and intensity, David continues his refrain with only one minor variation. Here the command is not the passive “be lifted up, you ancient doors,” but “lift them up!” You can almost taste the excitement that must have been felt as these words were being sung! Oh, how David longed to see the temple built to his mighty God and how he longed to see the messianic words of this psalm fulfilled. And though he did not live to see either, the joy that filled his being at the hope and anticipation of this promise bubbles forth like a spring or a well that cannot contain the force of the water that it is meant to hold—it overflows from his life and floods into the words and spirit of this psalm. One can almost imagine David setting down his quill several times during the writing of this psalm simply to sing praise to God.
We have been given the joy of seeing the hope of this psalm fulfilled in the glorification of Christ. For it is Christ who, when he rose from the grave, ascended into the holy place—the inner sanctuary of God—and forever rent the veil that separated God from man. And it is Christ who has seated himself on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. Not only were the ancient doors, once closed because of sin, opened wide for the King of Glory to enter in, but these doors have now remained forever opened that all those who are trusting in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior may enter in with him as his royal and holy bride! Beloved, if you are a born again Christian, that means you! This is something to get excited about; this is something to write hymns of praise about! And oh, how the saints of the past have burst forth in song for the joy of this wondrous hope and promise!
Yet, like David, we await the consummation of this promise. David awaited the coming of the Messiah and we await the return of the Messiah, when he will finally gather his whole church together, united in him, and as his bride, and we will be together for all eternity—no longer separated by sin and death. This is a promise that can make even the most woeful heart sing. We may struggle and hurt and weep for a time in this world, but there is an end to this world and there will be an end to all of the grief that we experience herein. And when that end comes, for those of us who are found in Christ, there will be a glorious beginning, united in his presence for all eternity. Loved ones, how the hope of a reunion with family has kept so many prisoners of war alive through even their darkest days, how much more should this hope of an eternal wedding with the glorious Christ sustain us, through even our most trying times—even into the darkness of the grave. Take hope beloved, our King has gone before us and in going before us he has prepared for us a place—let us remain steadfast in faith as we walk in the muck and the mire of this world, for the way has already been trod by the great King of Glory—even to the grave!
O worship the King all glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love;
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
O measureless might! Ineffable Love!
While angels delight to hymn you above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall lisp to your praise.
Psalm 24, part 8 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“Who is this King of Glory?
Yahweh, strong and heroic,
Yahweh, heroic in war!”
And we have finally arrived at the point of the psalm that we have been waiting for with anticipation. Who is this King of Glory? Indeed, it is Yahweh, God Almighty himself, it is God who will go up on our behalf—it is God who will enter into and stand triumphant over his enemies in the Holy Place—the temple of the Lord. How is this to be? Is not God not already in his holy place, for is it not his presence that makes it holy? Indeed, this psalm is looking forward to the time when Christ, God himself, the second member of the Holy Trinity, would take flesh to himself, identifying with us even on the deepest levels of our humanity, and ascend on our behalf, so that all those who are in him—who are his elect—might enter into God’s presence with him! Good news indeed! This is the best news! God has sent his Son, his Son has fulfilled the law for those who will put their faith in him, his Son has made satisfaction for our sins on the cross, his Son has risen from the grave and now has ascended to the throne of God, sitting down at the right hand of glory and having all things placed at his feet, and we know who this Son is—his name is Jesus! Oh, beloved, what a wonderful thing this is to know, that Jesus did for you what you could never hope to do for yourself, and he offers you a share in glory if you are resting your trust in Him as your Lord and Savior. Blessings, all blessings, pour down from God’s throne; yet all blessings shall count for naught, apart from the blessing of Christ alone.
The language of this passage is strongly militaristic, and we should not shy away from the imagery that is used. Yahweh is described as strong and heroic—the term rABGI (gibor) is used, which refers to one who is mighty and heroic in battle (see Nahum 2:3, 1 Samuel 17:51). Do not God’s enemies war against God’s people? Are these battles then not the Lord’s? And does God not bring the victory in battle for his glory and not for our own? Can we not say with King David that on this day, the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:46-47)? Beloved, it is not with spear or sword, armies or navies, or even through human ingenuity or intelligence that the battle is fought. Battles are not won by force of will, but they are won or lost by the hand of God! And our God is strong and mighty—heroic in facing his foes and conquering them. Our Lord, Jesus, did just this, conquering his foes upon the cross of Calvary—utterly crushing the power of sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). And it is this almighty, conquering King that has shown us his mercy by going up on our behalf and bringing forth the blessings of God to be poured out upon his people (John 7:37-39). Blessings, great blessings, found solely in Christ; God of all glory and power and wisdom and might!
There shall be showers of blessing,
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call!
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.
Psalm 24, part 7 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“O Gates, you shall lift up your heads!
And be lifted up, you eternal doors!
That the King of Glory may come in!”
We are told of the excitement that David and the people felt when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem to be placed in the tabernacle area that David had prepared. The people came into the city with shouts and with singing and David, the king of all Israel, led the way with jubilant dancing and praise (2 Samuel 6). What an amazing time that must have been! You can almost hear David approaching Jerusalem with the Ark and shouting to the gates that they would open so that the procession might enter the city. This sense of joy and excitement has led some scholars to the position that this psalm was written either for or about the entrance of the Ark into Jerusalem.
We have mentioned before, though, that it is more likely that this psalm was written to be sung at the dedication of the temple. Who is this King of Glory? It was certainly never a title given to David, and in the context of this psalm, it clearly points to the coming Messiah who would go up into the temple for his people. With that being said, though, there is a very real chance that David, while writing this hymn to be sung at the dedication of the temple, was recalling the joy and excitement that he experienced when bringing the Ark into Jerusalem in the first place. Thus, the imagery that we have here is that of the messiah opening wide the gates of the temple and entering in on behalf of his people.
The language of throwing the gates wide open is important to understand, because it is symbolic of submission to the authority of the one entering in. When a king marched into the city with the gates thrown open wide, it was a sign that the city had been fully defeated by this king—in many cases, the gates would torn down if resistance persisted—again to reinforce the idea that nothing barred the way of this king from access to the city. This principle is important to understand as we look backwards in history, for example, to Samson’s tearing down the gates of Gaza (Judges 16:1-3) and carrying them off to Hebron, a distance of about 35 miles, deep into the heart of Israel. Samson was telling the people of Gaza—“you are mine…” by this action.
Here we have the same thought in mind—the King of Glory—the promised Messiah who is anticipated, is depicted as approaching the temple of God and the gates being thrown wide open. And indeed, in a greater and fulfilled sense, this is exactly what Christ did! Not only did the death of Christ cause the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy place rent in two, but in the resurrection of Christ, the gates of heaven were thrown wide open to him as he ascended to glory. And if the gates of heaven are thrown wide open to Christ, not only is that an indication of his sovereignty over all things, but that is a promise that the gates of heaven will not be closed to any who are in Christ by faith. Indeed, because heaven received Christ with accolades, heaven will receive we who are the elect because we are united with Christ. Indeed too, the temple on earth is meant to be a shadow of the reality that is in heaven—and indeed, as no door on earth is shut to Christ, no door in the heavenly realms is shut either.
Beloved, it is hard not to get excited when reading these words of David. They are filled with hope and excitement and we have seen their fulfillment in the person and work of our Lord. What confident praise ought to fill our souls! What joy we should have when we proclaim these words! Lift your heads, oh you eternal gates, for now as Christ reigns on his throne, the bride of the King of Glory is being brought in!
Come, thou Almighty King,
Help us thy name to sing,
Help us to praise.
Father, all glorious,
Over all victorious,
Come and reign over us,
Ancient of Days.
Psalm 24, part 6 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“This is the generation that is seeking him—
who are seeking your face, O Jacob.
Here we have the cry of David, calling out for the one who would finally and most assuredly present himself before the face of God in his holy temple, and David continues his plea with these words: “This is the generation that is seeking him!” In other words, David is crying out, “we are looking for the messiah, we are searching him out, our eyes are open Lord, reveal him to us!” Thus, this is not just the heart’s song of David, but it is the song of the people as well.
This reminds us that hymns are meant not only to be sung by the congregation, but the lyrics, as we sing them, are to become our own words. It is easy to get into a routine, when it comes to Sunday worship. We gather, sing a few hymns, pray a few prayers, read a bit of scripture, and listen to a sermon, and then go on with our day. How easy it is for our minds to wander away from what we are doing to the obligations we have for the week ahead. How often, when we hear the pastor’s prayer, that our minds are elsewhere and we do not make his words our own. How often we sing the words of the hymns, but as we do so, we are only singing them as the words of Fanny Crosby, Isaac Watts, or John Newton, and never appropriate those words as our own. How often our routine brings us to sing the words of these hymns without dwelling on their meaning. David reminds us that as we lift our voices together to sing God’s praise, we are proclaiming these words, whoever penned them originally, to be our own as well. This is the generation, David says, that seeks the Messiah.
Now there is some question over the next line. In Hebrew poetry, one of the primary elements that is used is that of parallelism. In other words, often the second line means essentially the same thing as the first line does, yet it is stated in a different way. Thus, the question is asked, if David and his generation are seeking the Messiah who will go up for them, where does Jacob fit into the picture. This question has driven both the ESV and the NIV, in their translations of the Bible, to add the words “God of” to the passage, making the parallelism equate the sought Messiah with God himself. Now, while this is certainly an accurate connection, it is an addition to the text and changes the meaning of what David is saying. There are times when words need to be added to the text to communicate the idea in good English, but this is not one of them.
So then, we are left once again with this question, how are we to understand these words? A quick survey of commentaries will return a variety of views on this question, some being more dogmatic about their position than others. Yet, oftentimes, the simplest and most straightforward explanation is the best one to grasp. Jacob, of course, was renamed as Israel after his wrestling match with God (Genesis 31:28). As a result, while we usually speak of God’s covenant nation as “Israel” or “the children of Israel,” the scriptures also use the name “Jacob” at times as a collective noun to refer to God’s covenant people (see Psalm 53:6, Isaiah 44:5, etc…). As the Messiah was promised to the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, what David is essentially saying is, “we look to your seed, Oh, Jacob, from which our Messiah will come. It is a statement of confidence in God that he will not only send a redeemer, but that the redeemer that will be sent will be bound by line and generation to the covenant body—he is not coming from outside.
We spoke earlier about the importance of the full humanity of Christ as Messiah, and here that issue is reinforced once again, although more subtly. Not only must Christ be human to redeem humanity, but he also must come from within God’s covenant people. For if Christ was to fulfill the Law of God on behalf of his people, he had to be born under that same law (Galatians 4:4), yet live without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Beloved, do you see how deeply our God loves us? God loved us so much that he was willing to identify with us on every level—tempted as we are and born under the full weight of the revealed law of God—so that he could intercede for his people as one who knows—even on the most intimate levels—all of our grief and sorrows. And beloved, he loved us so much that he would be willing to identify so perfectly with us, though not sinning but bearing the weight and punishment for our sin on the cross, so that when we come before God in judgment, that we might stand before God not in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. His righteousness is sufficient for us, yet, oh, how we don’t deserve such grace and mercy. You and I bring nothing to the table and have nothing of our own to present before God—we stand guilty, wicked, and deserving eternal condemnation—even the best of us. Yet as wicked and wretched as we are, Christ is more than sufficient. Not only did he identify with us in our humanity, but in doing so, he revealed in himself the heart of God.
Oh, beloved, do not let this love and mercy pass you by. Do not simply sing of God’s love as something you might do as rote our habit, but beloved, glory in it! This love of God has no match in all of the universe—there is nothing like it and there can be no substitute for it—it is truly supernatural and out of this world. And, loved ones, how wretched we are when we take this for granted. Beloved, this very thing, the whole idea of God becoming man without ceasing to be God is enough to last you for a lifetime. The richness of the implications are beyond comprehension. C.S. Lewis called this the greatest miracle of all, and oh, indeed, it is! That God would condescend to us, in our sin, our wretchedness, our hatefulness of God, and that God would become a man—yet remaining fully God—and take the form of a slave, bound under the law and bearing all the weight of our sin. If God were bound to human logic, it is something that he would have never done—we are just not worth the sacrifice, no we aren’t. But, oh, my friends, how thankful we should be that God’s ways are not the ways of man (Isaiah 55:8) and that God would choose that which is foolish in the eyes of men to do his most magnificent work in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:20-22). This is the gospel dear ones, that God did not leave us to the sinful, wretched, horrid, rebellion that we were born into, but God became man, forever bridging the chasm between God and man, in the person of his son, becoming our perfect sacrifice and our perfect righteousness for ones like you and I who deserve nothing but eternal fire. Oh, loved ones, this is the work of the Messiah for whom David was looking, and in faith, we are part of the generation who seeks him—knowing full well that he can be found in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Psalm 24, part 5 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“He carries blessings from Yahweh,
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
As we get to this verse, perhaps it is best to quickly remind ourselves of the context of the passage. David, who is writing this psalm, begins with a praise to God for who he is and for all he has done and then poses this question. In light of our sin—our separation from God because of our fallen-ness—who shall ascend into the presence of God on our behalf? And the answer is that it is he who is clean from the guilt of sin. In that context, then we spoke about how the priests went through elaborate purification rituals so that they could enter into the presence of God for just a short time, but that the whole purpose of this was to demonstrate the inadequacy of the earthly priesthood and point us to a Messianic great high priest who would come. It is the messiah who will ascend the mountain of Yahweh, rising in his presence eternally. And though we are on the other side of the cross, and we know how God chose to unravel his redemptive plan, we can almost sense the anticipation that David had as he looked forward in faith, hoping to see the day when the Messiah would come. And oh, how similar is the anticipation that we feel as we look forward in faith, hoping to see the day when Jesus will return again in glory and majesty and power and might! Who is this King of Glory? Yahweh, strong and mighty! But, oh, I get ahead of myself once again.
As we return to verse five, with this context before us, we need to ask the question as to what is the purpose of the one who goes up for the people. Certainly the high priest was to make sacrifices on behalf of his people and take the blood of the sacrifices into the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement. Indeed, that is what he did, but why did he do it? The purpose of the sacrifice was certainly to make atonement for sins, but atonement was sought so that God would remain in the presence of his people. It is God’s presence and God’s presence alone that brings blessings to the people of God, it is what makes them distinct from all the rest of the people of the world (Exodus 33:16). This is the great blessing of God, that in spite of our rebellion and falling away in sin, He pursues us and He chooses to come into relationship with us, dwelling in our presence. This was assured year in and year out by the work of the Levitical priesthood; this was assured eternally by the work of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of the Father on high. Thus, I would argue, that while atonement is important, the question of atonement is not in David’s sights as he writes these verses—the results of the atoning work are in view, namely the blessings that come from the presence of God with his people.
With that in mind, when we read the first clause in verse 5 in most modern translations, we run into a stumbling block. Usually it is translated, “He will receive blessing…” (ESV, NASB, KJV, NIV, RSV, etc…). Young’s Literal Translation actually does a good job of getting to the meaning of what David is writing. To translate the verse as these translations do puts the focus entirely on the individual. HE goes up and HE receives blessing. Yet, this is not what the Hebrew reads. David uses the verb af’n” (nasa), which most naturally means “to carry.” Now, it is admitted that this verb has a wide range of meanings, and can mean “to take to oneself” as one would do with wives or concubines (Ruth 1:4, 2 Chronicles 11:21), but when it is used this way, emphasis is on the verb’s subject actively taking something, not passively receiving something.
Thus, the idea that is being conveyed here is not so much the idea of the High Priest going up to receive blessings for himself, but to gain blessings to be carried out for the congregation of God’s people. What would be the value of one going up “for us” if it is only the one who goes up who receives the blessing of God? No, he who goes up does so on behalf of his people so that he may carry out blessings from God to the people. This was indeed the purpose of the priestly work and this is fulfilled and consummated by the work of Christ, who has gone up on our behalf, to sacrifice once, but to make continual intercession for his people for all eternity. And the presence of God with his people? In the fullness of Christ’s work it is no longer a presence that is veiled by the glory cloud within the Holy of Holies of the temple, but it is in person, through the Holy Spirit, in the heart of every believer! Beloved, no longer do we need to make a pilgrimage to the temple once a year to make sacrifices to enter into God’s presence, but he has sought us out in the person of his Son, made a singularly perfect sacrifice on our behalf, and now resides with us, his people wherever we go and has promised to never leave our presence! What blessings have been carried to us by our great high priest!
Yet, let us not end there, because David does not end the verse there. Not only does this Messiah carry blessings to God’s people, but he brings righteousness from the God of his salvation. Do not stumble over the language of “his salvation” for the simple reason that as Christ identified with us in our sins, though he did not need saving, because of this identification, we enter into his blessing and salvation and he bore the curse of our sins. Thus, in this identification with us, Yahweh becomes the God of the Messiah’s salvation as well. Yet, never forget this is only in terms of function in redemptive history, for as God, Christ needs no saving. This is perhaps part of the reason that some of the Gospel accounts refer to Christ as “being raised” by God as opposed to his “raising himself.” But the results of this exchange—Christ taking the cup of curse we deserve and we receiving the cup of blessing that is rightfully Christ’s—we enter into God’s presence not in our own righteousness but in the righteousness of Christ. No longer are we, as believers, judged according to our own merit, but we are judged according to the merit of our Mediator, Jesus Christ.
And this is the fullness of God’s blessing—not only are we assured, by the work of Christ, that we will have fellowship with God here on earth, but we are assured that we will have a fellowship that is eternal and that will continue when we pass from this place, for we will pass into the real presence of the God of our salvation! Oh, beloved, this promise is originated, given, fulfilled, and kept by the hand of God himself! We have had nothing to do with it, yet God, in his grace, in his infinite and wonderful grace, has chosen to call us to himself so that we might share in this infinitely wonderful blessing! Oh, this should cause us to worship our God and our King. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!
Praise him! Praise him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer!
For our sins he suffered and bled and died;
He our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation,
Hail him! Hail him! Jesus the Crucified.
Sound his praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows,
Love unbounded, wonderful, deep, and strong:
Praise him! Praise him! Tell of his excellent greatness;
Praise him! Praise him! Ever in joyful song!
Psalm 24, part 4 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“The one with blameless hands and a clean heart,
who does not lift his soul to what is worthless;
he does not swear to fraud.”
The righteousness of our God cannot abide by the presence of sin and deceit; how then will God accept our representative, the one who goes up into the presence of the Lord in our place, if he is covered by the filth of his own sin? In the ancient times, the high priest did go up to offer sacrifice on behalf of his people, but the purification rituals that he had to undergo before he could enter into the presence of God were overwhelmingly detailed and strict. Why is this? It is simply because no matter how righteously he sought to live, he could still never hope to fulfill the law of God. His own righteousness was as filthy rags before the Lord.
While David and the people looked for the priests to fulfill their role as mediator for the people, and as righteous living was marked as the goal of every true Israelite, it is still clear from the last four verses of this psalm that David has his heart set on one who would provide a greater fulfillment of this role. Who will go up for us! Oh, David cries! And the answer is the one whose life is pure, his hands are without blame and his heart is clean from sin—and this is just not something that can be done by a man born in sin—that is something that must be accomplished by God himself. Who is the one who will go up into the sanctuary of the Lord? It is the Lord himself, the King of glory—he will go in!
Sometimes people ask the question of why we need to hold onto the doctrine of Christ’s dual nature, that he is fully God and fully man. Were Christ not fully God, he could never have gone up for us. Were Christ not fully God, he would have been tarnished by sin, both original and actual, and his sacrifice would have been no more lasting than that of the high priest. The Passover lamb must be one without blemish (Exodus 12:5), and oh, how wretched is the righteousness of men (Romans 3:10-18). Thus, Christ, our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) had to be God, or else all would be a loss. Yet, were he not also fully man, he could not have identified with us as our mediator or die on the cross as our sacrifice, again, all would be a loss. If he did not take on our complete humanity, he could not have redeemed our complete humanity, and all would be a loss! This doctrine is essential to the Christian faith, and if you deny either of these aspects of Christ’s person, then you are of the antichrist (1 John 2:22-23; 4:2-3). You can call yourself a lot of things, but if you deny that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, and both at the same time, the one thing that you cannot call yourself is Christian.
Beloved, do not be swayed in your trust in Christ as your mediator, it is only he who has gone into the Lord’s presence and sat down at God’s right hand of power (Hebrews 1:3) to make intercession for our sins (Hebrews 7:25). There are many others who would call you to follow them, yet to where will they lead? Only Christ takes his chosen with him into the temple—into the presence of God; all others can lead only to the very gates of hell. Stand firm in your faith and He who is able to do all things will lead you into the glorious presence of his father with shouts of joy and great thanksgiving—oh, who is this King of Glory? It is none but the Lord, Jesus Christ! It is Christ that leads the way into the holy temple of God!
Blow ye the trumpet, blow!
The gladly solemn sound
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound:
The year of jubilee is come;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.
Psalm 24, part 3 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
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“Who will go up upon the mountain of Yahweh;
And who will rise in his holy place?”
In the context of the wonderful creation of all things, David cries out, who will go up for us? Who will ascend the mountain of God, who will ascend Mount Zion and who will stand in our place before the Lord of Hosts in his holy sanctuary—in his holy temple? Oh, beloved, we know the answer to that question, do we not! It is the Lord, Jesus Christ who has gone up in our stead. It is only Jesus who could stand before the Lord in his holy place—it is only Christ who can stand before God in his own strength and righteousness. If sinful man were to stand before the Lord, the righteous Judge of all creation on his own strength—oh, not one of us could stand (Psalm 130:3).
Yet, loved ones, even though we know the answer to the question that David poses, let us step back into his sandals, if we can, for a few minutes and dwell on this wonderful question that he asks. This language of “who will go up” is language that is often used in the Old Testament to reflect one going up on behalf of others—often for the purposes of battle. It is the question, “who will be our defender, who will be our redeemer, who will be our savior in the face of such enemies!” (see Judges 1:1, 20:18; 1 Samuel 6:20; even in Deuteronomy 30:12 it is used metaphorically to refer to the one who would go and gather the law on behalf of the people).
The language of the “mountain of Yahweh” is language that is used of a mountain where God had revealed himself in a personal, covenantal way—namely of the mountain where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac (see Genesis 22:14; some scholars argue that this would later be where Jerusalem would be built, and hence the temple, but we cannot be sure of this) and to Mount Sinai (Numbers 10:33). Yet, by the time that David would be writing this, when the mountain of the Lord would be spoken of, it would be most clearly seen as that of Mount Zion—the mountain on which the temple would be built. By the time of the prophets, the language of the mountain of the Lord would clearly point to Mount Zion and it would carry then redemptive significance in that in the day of the Lord—with the coming of the messiah—all nations would be drawn to Mount Zion to worship in his holy place (see Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2; Zechariah 8:3).
Lastly, we must ask the question about the language of “who will rise.” The word that is used here is the word ~Wq (Qum), which literally means “to rise up or to get up.” While this word has a variety of uses and is found more than 600 times in the Old Testament, it generally carries with it the idea of getting up from a sitting or a prone position. This makes many of our English translations a bit awkward at this point. Most translations say something to the extent of “who will stand…” The problem with this translation is that in English, the verb “to stand” carries with it the connotations of standing erect and staying firm rather than rising up. In English, “to stand” is a stationary verb and in Hebrew, ~Wq (Qum) is a verb that denotes movement. In other words, the question that David is asking is not “who will stand firm for us” but “who will rise up on our behalf?”
Thus, putting these elements together, we have a wonderful statement of anticipation. Here is David, the anointed King of Israel crying out to God, who will go up for us, in our place, into your presence, Oh, Lord? Who will rise up for us even in your holy place? Who can bear the load and burden for our sins, yet rise up from under their weight? Who can ascend, Oh, Lord, who will ascend for us! The verses that follow in this psalm give us a description of the one who can do just that. Yet, as sinful men, these are not characteristics that are part of our nature or part of our capacity—one greater is needed, but let us not get beyond the verse we are in—just yet, that is… This verse anticipates a coming messiah who is able to stand as righteous before the Lord—no common man, but one who is fully God and fully man, who is full of the perfections of God, yet has become man so that he might represent men before God on high. Get excited, beloved, these words anticipate our Lord! Yet, calm your heart, let us not run too far ahead of our dear psalmist.
It may be argued that the temple did not exist in David’s day and would not be built until his son, Solomon, would ascend to the throne. While this is certainly true, there are two things that must be recognized. The first is that the temple was built upon the same layout as the Tabernacle, and indeed, David had brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, and hence the Tabernacle with it. Secondly, though God did not permit David to build the temple—something David had greatly desired to do—God allowed David to gather supplies, resources, and draw up plans for the temple that his son would build. Thus, the reality of the temple to come was clearly in the eyes of David, not to mention the existing reality of the priestly sacrifices that were performed in the Tabernacle. In a sense, David has both of these in mind as he sings these words of praise to God—he sees the actuality of the tabernacle and looks forward to the temple, which was promised. Thus, in a very real sense, in the context of this psalm, which was quite possibly written for the dedication of the Temple, we can speak of the Temple, even though it was yet to be built—the presence of the Tabernacle being the assurance of all that the Temple would be.
With that in mind, in David’s day, the high priest was the one who would go into the Holy of Holies on behalf of his people. Yet, he was only allowed to go in once a year and then only enshrouded with clouds of incense to sprinkle the blood of the offering on the mercy seat (Leviticus 16). Yet, this High Priest could not rise up in God’s presence, indeed, he was one who went into God’s presence in the greatest humility—for even the High Priest was unworthy to stand or raise up his head before the Lord. How much greater is our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, than the priesthood that prefigured him (see Hebrews 8:1-13)! Our high priest has ascended into the presence of God the Father himself, and rather than only going in once a year and then veiled, our High Priest gazes at the unveiled face of the Father on high and resides with him for all eternity. He is the one who goes up for us—he is the one who has gone up for us, and he is the one in whom all of our hopes find their fulfillment! And once again, beloved, I have gotten ahead of myself.
Rest here, loved ones, in that David is looking not just to an earthly priesthood, but he is anticipating the great high Messianic priest who would come—indeed, all of the saints of the Old Testament found their hope in the promised one. Centuries later, when the writer of the book of Chronicles would close his work with a statement of this same hope (2 Chronicles 36:23)—depending on how you translate the final Hebrew the writer either makes a statement or a poses a question. If you translate this as a statement, it is a statement of anticipation, looking toward the one who would go up for the people; if you translate this as a question, the chronicler is asking, wondering, who would be the redeemer for the people. Either way, the heart of the statement is still the same—they are looking for a Messiah that has been promised—and oh, how that question is answered when you arrive in the New Testament. Who will go up for us? The Lord, Jesus Christ, he is the King of Glory—but then again, I have gotten ahead of myself.
Through the years you made it clear
That the time of Christ was near,
Though the people couldn’t see
What Messiah ought to be.
Though your Word contained the plan,
They just could not understand,
Your most awesome work was done
In your Son.
Psalm 24, part 2 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
Tags: devotion, Psalm 24
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“For He laid its foundation over the seas,
and He built it over the rivers.(Psalm 24:2)
David continues his praise of God for what He has done. The earth belongs to God not only because God has created it, but also because God has separated the land from the seas and made the land firm against the waters of the sea and the rivers. To describe this, David employs the metaphor of a wise builder, laying the foundation of the land at the corners of the sea and then building upwards. In the days of the ancient Jews, the seas were seen as a place of chaos and death, which is part of the significance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites through both the Red Sea and the Jordan River on dry land. God not only has created the earth, but he has also set the order of all things and all things stand or fall in conformity to his will.
How proud we are of our monuments. We build towers and sky-scrapers and stand in awe of the achievements that we have made. We build suspension bridges that span great distances and marvel at our accomplishments. We design nuclear reactors and wonder at the potential power output, but, oh, what is a reactor to the sun, and what is the sun to the millions of stars in the sky! What is a skyscraper to a mountain that stands miles above the oceans! And what is a suspension bridge to an isthmus! Oh, the wonders that our God has made should drive us to praise! The earth declares the majesty and wonder of our Lord and mankind largely views these things and rejects the truth before their eyes. Oh, how arrogant is the heart of man.
From the greatest thing to the smallest thing, God has established their form, their purpose, and their nature. From the smallest single-celled organism to the giant sea creatures, God has designed, intended, and purposed them for his glory. From the smallest particle to the largest star or black hole, God has set them into their place. Yet, even in light of the incredible complexity of the universe, much of mankind would rather credit creation to chance than to a divine architect. Why is this? It is because if you recognize the existence of a divine person, you immediately acknowledge that you have an obligation to him. The unbeliever wants to be obliged to no one but to himself, thus, they create complex myths by which they explain things and defend them dogmatically, seeking to intimidate others into embracing their own view of the world.
This is the only strength of the evolutionary theory, it is dogmatically held by its believers and they make as if you are a simpleton if you do not hold to the same principles that they hold to. Yet, we know better, for we have a God who shows us that there is meaning not only in the universe, but also in human beings. Mankind has purpose because God created us for a purpose and people have special worth, because we are created in the image of God. What is interesting about this whole argument is that most of modern science has rejected evolution as an impossibility. Darwin’s whole theory was based on the principle that the cell was a simple and basic entity, a building block upon which all life was founded. The problem with that theory is that a cell is not a simple organism—it is complex beyond most people’s wildest dreams and cannot function in gradual development—in other words, the cell cannot work unless it was created exactly as it exists now—evolution does not work. Scientists have largely abandoned the teaching of evolution, but secular educators have held to evolution simply because they fear the alternative—creation by God!
Despite the fact that mankind has largely rejected the truth of nature’s witness to God, God is still worthy of our praise and adoration. He is the wise and careful builder who has set the dry land apart from the seas and who has prepared for us a world in which we can live. Let us glorify his name for what he has done for believers and unbelievers alike—indeed, the simple fact that God provides the sun and rain and other good things to unbelievers is a sign of God’s grace to all, even though his saving grace only extends to those he brings to himself in faith. We have a number of names that we apply to people who live in a fantasy world, denying the truth that is clearly demonstrated to them. We call them deluded, dimwitted, ignorant, blind as a bat, and self-deceiving—I wonder, should these terms not also apply to those who continue to teach evolution in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary?
I sing the almighty power of God that made the mountains rise;
That spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at his command and all the stars obey.
Psalm 24, part 1 March 18, 2008Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Psalm 24.
Tags: devotion, Psalm 24
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“A Psalm of David:
The earth and all its fullness is Yahweh’s;
The world and that dwelling in it.”
It is always good, when we come to psalms that contain a superscription, to remember that these superscriptions are part of the original text, and thus are inspired as well as the text itself. When we read these psalms we should never omit reading the superscription, they are “God-Breathed” to use the language of 2 Timothy 3:16, and they provide useful information as to authorship and background of the psalm.
Yet, with that being said, David begins this psalm of praise with an amazing and wonderful proclamation. The earth and all that is in it, every living thing, every rock and every mineral, all of the particles of creation—all things, from the greatest to the smallest belong to the Lord. As the clay vessels, once they are complete, are the property of he who crafted them—all things in creation belong to the one to whom they owe their existence, namely to God himself. There is nothing in creation nor anyone who has ever lived who can truly say that he is his own man or she is her own woman. There is no such thing as a “self-made” person. We are works of God’s hand and we owe our gratitude and praise to him for who he is.
We don’t tend to talk much about this in the church, but let us never forget that every member of creation—every person who has ever lived or will ever live—owes praise to our God and King for who he is and for what he has done even apart from salvation. We usually talk about praise in terms of thanking God for what he has done savingly in our lives, but let us never forget that even those who will die unsaved, in sin and rebellion, owe to God praise for his mighty hand. Just as the clay vessels owe their praise to the potter, men owe their praise to the one who has made them.
God is infinitely wonderful and is infinitely worthy of praise, and for that reason alone, in refusing to praise him, those who are unregenerate heap condemnation upon themselves. Is it not right to praise the master-sculptor for his creations? Is it not right to praise the master-painter for his works? Is it not right to praise the master-carver for the ornamentation on his pieces of furniture? Is it not right to praise the athlete, the singer, the dancer, the seamstress, the chef for their skill? Is it not disgraceful to be so rude as to refuse to honor those whose skill has been practiced to an exceptional level? And has God not demonstrated just how much more infinitely skillful and wonderful his works are than that of any craftsman that mankind has ever produced? Look at the complexity of God’s creation; does his creation not provide infinite examples of God’s excellent handiwork? Oh, the wonders our God has wrought!
But that is not the end of the reasons that even the unregenerate man owes praise to God! Does not the sun shine upon the saved and the unsaved alike? Does not God send rain in its season? Does not God provide good blessings of family, friendships, and relationships to the believer and the unbeliever alike? God is the source of all true blessing and to refuse to thank the one who has given such a remarkable gift is hateful and plainly ignorant. Were someone to give you a remarkable gift, whether in moneys or property, or goods, how disrespectful it would be to accept that gift as something that was rightfully yours without ever thanking the one who has given the gift. Oh, the wickedness of mankind! Oh, the condemnation that the prideful human heart heaps upon itself.
Yet, believer, if the unbeliever has an obligation to praise God for who he is and for his good blessings, how much more is that obligation yours as well! You who have tasted not only the goodness of God in worldly blessings but also who have tasted his goodness in the gift of redemption and eternal life, who have tasted the absolute joy of being redeemed from your sin because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you who will enjoy God’s goodness forever, being spared from his wrath—how much more ought you offer praise to our God! Oh, beloved, how far short we often fall of this mark. How often we fall into the mindset of the world and begin to think that blessing is our right and that we can stand on our own strength. Believer, repent of these things and find your joy in Christ. Praise him with all your strength and glorify his name in all parts of your life. Rejoice in him who gives meaning to all things, for all things, both great and small, belong to their maker—Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts!
All Creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
-Francis of Assisi