“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4).
Two Sundays ago, we were exhorted to “run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb. 12:1). For some of us, running is not a chore, but a joy and delight. For others of us, we might tell our family and friends that if they ever see us running, someone is surely chasing us! The thing about this life in Christ is this – we are already in the race. The call isn’t to run – it is to run with endurance. And how do we do that? “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
I think it is fitting then that as we come to the end of chapter 12 this week, we find two mountains before us. One mountain cannot be touched, is “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.”
If we were to come to such a mountain, the question we might ask is, “Who shall ascend the hill?” There seems no way up. And the Psalmist doesn’t provide any real comfort to us. “He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” Well, I’m out. I am not worthy of climbing that mountain.
Because of our trespasses and sins, we can never climb that mountain. But that brings us right back to Jesus. He was able, for he had clean hands and a pure heart. And not only has he climbed that mountain of the law, he fulfilled it in its entirety. We don’t have to go to that mountain anymore. We are invited up another mountain, “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…”
Again, as Isaiah reminds us, “Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). The apostle Paul, reflecting on this great exchange, says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Isaiah personifies this mountain in chapter 2. “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say; ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’” What Isaiah saw in shadow we know to be the Lord Jesus. It is this Jesus who calls to us “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
The call is not to some earthly city, but to the heavenly abode of God. Through the work of Jesus, we have been made citizens of a new country, and have our home in heaven. And one day, that heavenly city will descend to a new earth, where we will live in the glory of God forevermore. Won’t you look to Jesus today!