May 17, 2020

One of the great blessings for the Christian is hope. How wonderful to know that there is no hopeless situation for the child of God. The Lord has promised that He will be with His children even when they go through the most difficult circumstance of life. He has promised that His grace will always be sufficient. Even death has lost its sting. Christ has conquered death and the grave. In fact, for the child of God, death is gain. Death is the vehicle that brings the child of God home, into the presence of the Lord. In every circumstance, God has given His people hope. Now hope for the Christian is not the type of hope typically expressed as wishful thinking so often stated as “I hope so.” Instead, the hope of the Christian is that of the certain expectation that God will do exactly what He has said. And that expectation is epitomized in the certain return of Jesus Christ to the earth to establish the promised kingdom. Even on the day of our Lord’s ascension into glory, the disciples were given words of hope as is recorded for us in Acts 1:10-11.

“And as they were gazing intently into the heavens while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said: ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’”

God the Son came into the world in human form to accomplish salvation. He came as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. After His resurrection, He visibly and bodily ascended into heaven. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father where He watches over and guides His sheep as the Great Shepherd. This same Jesus is coming again. He will return bodily and visibly in the splendor of glory to establish the promised kingdom on the earth. Sin and suffering will be removed. No longer will the curse be on the earth. He will rule as the King of kings and Lord of lords. This declaration is not wishful thinking, but the certain expectation (true hope) that God will do just what He promised. He will come as the Chief Shepherd who will bring blessing and gifts to His people. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (I Peter 5:4)

Psalm 24 is the third psalm of the Shepherd’s Trilogy. In Psalm 22, He is depicted as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep. He is depicted as the Great Shepherd in Psalm 23 who guides, provides and protects His sheep. Now in Psalm 24, He is depicted as the Chief Shepherd who is coming again to fulfill the promises made to the nation of Israel and establish His kingdom on the earth. Without minimizing or overlooking the details provided in God’s Word about the return of Jesus Christ, we know that as God brings history to its appointed goal and conclusion, He will first call His spiritual body to Himself. After that, He will turn His focus upon fulfilling the promises to the nation of Israel culminating with His visible physical return to the earth with His spiritual body, the church, to establish His promised kingdom.

David is the author of Psalm 24. It is a Praise Psalm developed in an antiphonal format so singers would respond back and forth to the questions asked in the psalm. The psalm seems to have been written to celebrate the occasion when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the city of Jerusalem. Yet the psalm is also eschatological in that it looks to the future when the Chief Shepherd, the Greater Son of David will enter into Jerusalem to rule over all the nations of the earth as the King of the Jews. (Psalm 2) The psalm is basically divided into two sections. In Psalm 24:1-6 there is the Acceptance by the King and in Psalm 24:7-10 there is the Arrival of the King. This coming King to whom all must give homage is the Creator God to whom all are accountable.

“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.”

Psalm 24:1-2

The psalm begins with a declaration that this universe and all the creatures within it are the possession of the Creator. The One who brought this world into existence is none other than the LORD Himself. The use of all capitals in our English Bibles indicates that David referred to the Creator as the personal God who revealed Himself as the Covenant God who delights in showering His people with the blessings of His grace. He is Yahweh (LORD), the One who is worthy of praise. All is under His dominion because He is the One who made it. While the earth is filled with splendor, its splendor is a derived splendor. It declares the glory of the One who created it. (Psalm 19:1-6)

Knowing that the LORD is the Sovereign King over all creation, it is important to understand who is invited into His presence. God has promised that all the peoples of the earth will come to worship Him in Jerusalem. He has established Mt. Zion as the place where His temple will be located. The Lord has condescended to our limitation and established a place where we can appear before Him and worship Him. The visible manifestation of the invisible God will be in the person of the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.

“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.”

Psalm 24:3-6

Understanding the grandeur of Yahweh, David asks a rhetorical question to give those who heard this song or those who read it the opportunity to reflect upon this very important truth. Who can come into the presence of Yahweh? Who may stand (be approved and acceptable) before Him? Now in our day, such a question appears to be out of place. We have been deluded into accepting a common erroneous assumption. Today we are told that as long as someone is sincere in what they believe, that is all that matters. Today we are told that all religions or roads lead us to heaven. But how ludicrous to think that what we believe and how sincere we may be in that belief makes any difference. You may sincerely and earnestly believe that I do not exist. Yet your sincere belief does not change the reality of my being. I am alive and well regardless of what you believe. In the same way, there was a day when the educated community sincerely believed and taught that the earth was flat. Regardless of the earnestness of the belief that the earth was flat, it did not change the reality that the earth was a sphere. There are a multitude of other examples that can be given to expose the fallacy of the assumption that one’s sincere belief is what will make the difference. God exists, regardless of how sincerely one may believe He does not. God is the One who has stated that for any individual to come into His presence and be acceptable to Him, He has to come in the way He has prescribed. Your assumption and belief is wrong if you think you can be acceptable to Him in a different way. It does not matter how sincere you may be in your belief. You do not change reality. The teaching of biblical Christianity is that acceptance with God is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. I may not like that concept or I may disagree with that premise; but my argument is with God and not with man. Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6) The Apostle Peter expressed the same truth when he declared: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) David affirmed the same truth in his writings. He recognized that acceptance with God and salvation is only found in Yahweh. For example, in Psalm 32:1-2 he said:

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Who sin is covered!

How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit!”

Even in Psalm 24, David acknowledged that those who those who come into the presence of the LORD are the ones who “shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:5) Not any one of us is acceptable to God by our own merit. God has said that “there is none righteous, not even one” and “there is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) Thankfully, God shows mercy and forgiveness to those who come into His presence trusting in the all sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. These individuals have clean hands. They are innocent of wrong doing. These individuals have a pure heart. They are ones whose heart has singleness of purpose or devotion. They are part of the generation (group of people) who seek Yahweh and receive blessing and righteousness from the God of their salvation. They are not individuals who have lifted up their souls (an expression of worship) to vanity or falsehood; namely the worship of false gods or idols. They are not those who have sworn deceitfully or dishonestly. The individuals who are the recipients of God’s salvation are not hypocritical. These are the individuals who are genuine in their love and devotion to the LORD. As David said:

“I will bless the LORD at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;

The humble shall hear it and rejoice.

O magnify the LORD with me,

And let us exalt His name together.”

Psalm 34:1-3

Those who may ascend into the hill of the LORD and will be accepted by Him are the ones who have tasted of God’s forgiveness and salvation. These are the ones who seek the LORD out of a genuine desire to commune with God and rejoice in His greatness and goodness to them. They make their boast in the LORD and desire to join with others to magnify Him.

Now having indicated who will be acceptable to the King, David describes the arrival of the King to the ancient city of Jerusalem. The coming of the promised Messiah to establish the promised kingdom will be a day of great joy and celebration. During the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the disciples had hoped that the kingdom was being established upon the official entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem on the day we remember as Palm Sunday. And while it is true that Jesus did officially present Himself to the nation of Israel as the Promised King, the coming of the promised kingdom was not to take place on that day. It will take place when He returns as the Chief Shepherd in all of His glory and splendor. 

“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 be lifted 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.”

Psalm 24:7-10

There is the repetition of this declaration in order to emphasize that this event is the most important of human history. It will be the fulfillment of the promises that God has made in His Word. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the paradise lost in Adam will now be regained in Jesus Christ. The splendor of this King clothed in His majesty will cause all the heavens and earth to rejoice. While often thought of as a Christmas Carol, it is really a song expressing the joy associated with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room while heaven and nature sing.”

The gates and doors of the city of Jerusalem are to be lifted up with honor. The fact that God has selected Jerusalem to be the location in which He makes His presence known is what gives honor and prestige to it. These are called the ancient gates and doors because it is a city that has been around even from before the time of Abraham. It is the ancient city of which Melchizedek was the king. When the kingdom is established upon the earth, Jerusalem will be the capital city of the kingdom and all the peoples of the earth will go to it in order to give homage to the King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is also important to note the identity of the One who is coming to rule and to establish the promised kingdom. Who is the King of glory? Three times the personal name for God is used to be sure there is no doubt of His identity. Yahweh is the King of glory. He is the LORD of hosts. All are subject to Him as the supreme ruler of the visible and invisible universe. He is the King of glory.

The fulfillment of this psalm is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd that gave His life for His sheep. He is the Great Shepherd who is presently protecting and providing for His sheep while He is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. He is the Coming One who will yet rule over all the nations of the earth.

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD;

He said to Me: ‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’”

Psalm 2:7-8

Jesus Christ is returning as the Chief Shepherd who will rule over the kingdom from the place that Yahweh has said His presence would be manifested. The King of glory, Jesus Christ our Lord, is the great I AM, Yahweh Himself in human form. He will be visibly and bodily present in all His splendor in Jerusalem so that all may worship and honor Him.

Some may scoff at the thought of Jesus returning to the earth. Peter indicated that there would be such people. In 2 Peter 3:3-4 we read:

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying: ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’”

Those who mock the Lord and His Word may be very sincere in their belief. But that does not change reality. The King is coming! The Creator has not forgotten His promise. The LORD of hosts will not be thwarted in fulfilling His Word. Once He has spoken, He will do it. (Isaiah 46:11) Just as He faithfully fulfilled the details of what He had said would take place in the first coming of the promised Shepherd, so He will faithfully accomplish all He has promised concerning the second coming or return of the promised Shepherd. He came the first time as the Good Shepherd to accomplish salvation. He is coming the second time as the Chief Shepherd to establish the promised kingdom and receive the glory He so rightfully deserves.

“Great and marvelous are Your works,

O LORD God, the Almighty;

Righteous and True are Your ways,

You King of the nations.

Who will not fear, O LORD, and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy;

For all the nations will come and worship before You,

For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 15:3-4

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”                                                                      Revelation 22:20

Soli Deo Gloria!