Introduction: It’s good to sing together to the LORD, especially a song like we have just sung which is straight Scripture, a Psalm, that is what Colossians 3:16 says [Colossians 3:16 Christ’s message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct each other with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts.] Many people have a favourite Psalm, probably the most well-known and best-loved Psalm is Psalm 23: “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” Do you know, I have a simple rule for understanding the Bible? Do you want to know the key to understanding the Bible? It is speaking about Jesus! Jesus is the Good Shepherd! If you have the time it is interesting to look at the Psalms both before and after Psalm 23. Psalm 22 is one of the most amazing, detailed and accurate portrayals of Jesus’ death on the cross – written a thousand years before it happened! But tonight I want to look at the Psalm that follows Psalm 23, which is … Psalm 24 – it’s about Jesus too. You might like to turn there in your Bibles because we are going to have a closer look at it: [Psalm 24 The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it; for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face—even Jacob. Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!]
Creation: Some of you who come along here have admired this, it is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship; some have even coveted it for themselves – but whose is it? Why? He didn’t buy it, no one gave it to him; but it is indisputably Robin’s – why? Because he made it! [OHP1] It is his – unless he sells it or gives it, but it is his to do with as he chooses because he made. If you make something then it is yours! What does this psalm say? [v.1-2 The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it; for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.] The earth, the world and all it contains is the LORD’s because He made it, He created it – creation confers ownership. He can do with it has He chooses. The Bible unequivocally states that God created the world – that He made it out of a watery chaos to have order and life [Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.] Written over a thousand years later this Psalm says exactly the same thing; and another thousand years on at the end of the Bible it says the same: [2 Peter 3:5 By the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water]. Science changes its theories every few years but the Bible is consistent over thousands of years and different writers. To say that the world came into being by chance and random processes is a blasphemous lie. People have embraced evolution because it is the only option that let’s them off the hook for being created by God and thus belonging to Him. The proteins and DNA needed for the simplest single-celled organism, let alone the cell structures to process them, are vastly complicated and structured, it is impossible for them to come together by chance – and the evolutionary process needs a living cells in order to operate by it’s process of survival of the fittest. Evolution hides behind vast lengths of time to allow the required changes – but to progress from a simple cell to a more complicated organism requires more information to be coded in the DNA (your DNA holds more information than a bacteria’s). Where does this extra information come from? Evolution says it is by mutations, errors that occur – did you know that not one case has ever been found of an increase in the information in DNA coming through the process of mutation and natural selection? – yet this is the process evolution is supposed to take place by! We know what happens with time – you build a house and leave it 10 years, do you find that another room has been added on? No, it will deteriorate – that what happens with time. Leave it 100 years the chances are it will not even be standing, certainly not after 1000 years – what about in a million? No, evolution is a big lie to avoid the fact that we belong to God because He made the world and all who live in it. The psalm says all who dwell in the world belong to the LORD. That leads us to another big lie that we have been sold: “my life” [OHP1] God made us we are not our own, we belong to him. Yet we have been told that our life is our own to do with as we choose. People ask: “what are you going to do with your life?” What are you going to do when you get released? It’s my life and I decide what I am going to do and I live with the consequences of those choices. No! Your life is not your own – you belong to the LORD and you are to do what He says. If you don’t do what He says that is called disobedience or sin.
Who may ascend?: That leads us to the next verse of the psalm: [v.3-6 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face—even Jacob.] We belong to God, we are His; we are to come before Him as servants in order to receive instruction. But how can we come before Him? The fact that you are here tonight is because you want to come to God. Here it tells you what you have to be like in order to come before the LORD in His holy place. You have to have clean hands – that is, not done any action that defiles you or make you unclean. Have you ever done anything that left you feeling dirty? But also your heart has to be pure – not only your deeds right but your motive behind them, your thoughts have to be pure too. Here I am preaching – but can I say may hands are clean and that my heart is pure that I have never told or lived a lie, never done anything false? The fact is none of make the grade [OHP2]. God is high, we have to ascend, He is higher than we are, holy, absolutely pure and righteous. How can any man meet these conditions?! All are excluded! But it goes on to talk about receiving a blessing of righteousness and salvation. We have to be righteous to come before God but no man is but there is righteousness that is received – it is a gift [OHP2]. [Romans 5:16-18 There is a difference between God’s gift and the sin of one man. After the one sin, came the judgement of “Guilty”; but after so many sins, comes the undeserved gift of “Not guilty!” It is true that through the sin of one man death began to rule because of that one man. But how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with Him (made righteous) will rule in life through Christ. So then, as the one sin condemned all people, (Adam's sin in the garden of Eden) in the same way the one righteous act (the death of Jesus on the cross) sets all people free and gives them life.] So instead of depending on what we have done, we depend on what Jesus has done. He is righteous. He is the only one with clean hands and a pure heart who can come before God - and there He appears on our behalf. Jesus is righteous and gives that righteousness of God to those who have faith in Him. God made Him who knew no sin to become sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Verse 5 in the Good News Bible reads [Psalm 24:5 The LORD will bless them and save them; God will declare them innocent.] Each of you has heard the verdict “Guilty!” how wonderful to be declared innocent! Jesus paid the penalty for our unclean hands and impure heart, received the punishment we deserved. His death was the penalty for our sin – our sins were removed at the cross of Jesus [1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.] This gift of righteousness is salvation; we are saved from death, from the penalty we deserve for our sin. Who is this blessing of the gift of and salvation for? – It is for the generation that seeks God [OHP2] – who seeks His face. They want to be near God and they seek Him with all their hearts. Jesus said that those who seek will find [Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.] You may think that you are too unclean and impure to seek God but it says: “even Jacob” – Jacob’s name means “twister” and that is what He was. His name was changed to Israel, a prince with God, but it is the rotter Jacob, the deceiver and trickster, that the psalm says seeks God. We can seek Him – He is not just the God of Israel, He is even the God of Jacob. Even Jacob can seek God and find Him and receive the righteousness He gives.
The King of glory!: Let us read the end of the psalm: [v.7-10 Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!] What is this gates lifting up their heads and doors being lifted up? When the psalmist wrote this, cities had walls around them with gates. The gates would be closed to keep out the enemy. But here the gates are being lifted up – the city is open, welcoming its King! The King has just returned – He went out into battle and has returned victorious with His armies. A city welcomed its conquering leader with a triumph, the city gates would be opened; the king would enter in procession with his captives and spoils of war being led in procession (Arch of Titus). This is what is being described. [Colossians 2:15 On that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in His victory procession.] They are “ancient doors” – this is a city that is of old, the heavenly city. Jesus left there to come to earth to fight a battle, a battle against satan, sin, and his ultimate weapon: death. Jesus is returning victorious! He defeated death! He rose again after being killed! Death has no hold on Him! He has defeated the final enemy! So there is great rejoicing as the city welcomes home its victor! [OHP3] We used to sing a hymn: “Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son; endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won!” Who is this victorious King? It is the LORD! Jesus has returned to glory. He is the Lord of hosts – that word means “armies” – the victorious King returns in triumph with His armies. We join in the triumphal procession! [2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.] It is Jesus! Jesus is King! He rules and is going to set up His Kingdom rule here on earth. The Good News is that the Kingdom is near! We need to be ready! We don’t want to be found on the opposing side when the triumphant King returns. For Jesus is coming back to earth, to enter the city of Jerusalem, to rule the whole earth from there - the whole earth that belongs to Him. It is a picture of glory! Those that are righteous will ascend the hill to be with the LORD – those ones will be with Him in glory! [OHP3] This is the consummation of our Christian walk, being with Jesus in glory. Jesus prayed [John 17:22-24 I gave them the same glory you gave me, (a gift received) “Father! You have given them to me, and I want them to be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory, the glory you gave me; for you loved me before the world was made.”] This is the purpose God intended for us when He made us, to be with Him in glory! – we belong to Him. He has paid the price to buy us back for Himself, so that we may be with Him in glory, having the righteousness which He gives to those who seek Him and put their faith in Him.