Summary: We are justified freely through grace, that came by Christ Jesus. The liturgy asks the question "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?" When we are saved by grace through faith all may.
Psalm 24 starts with these two verses, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
As we know there‘s a lot of debate on various aspects of scripture, the whole theme of creation verses evolution keeps coming up. Well there’s always been debate over who was responsible for pulling it all together, giving us life, I have a firm belief and it’s because of experiencing God at work in my life that he is behind it all. Well there was a bit of a debate going on back in the Psalmists time about who was in control.
People were scared of the sea and there was concern about the power of the sea. The Canaanites believed that Baal had defeated the sea, the Babylonians though it was their God Marduk who defeated forces of turmoil led by a salt water god.
So in this Psalm of David we have this singing out, this declaration that it is the LORD himself who founded the earth and established it and the way these verses are written point to the LORD maintaining this foundation of the earth upon the sea. So here we are we have this idea that the LORD established the earth upon the seas, upon ocean currents, what is referred to in Hebrew as “neharot’ of nether-streams (From Benjamin D. Sommer's, A Commentary on Psalm 24). We have this picture of land floating upon ocean currents. Interestingly enough I don’t find it much of a stretch of the imagination to think of the earth floating on rivers of molten rock which it does. Just maybe the Lord gave the Psalmist an understanding just a little beyond human understanding of the time?
So these two verses tell us the earth and everything in it belongs to the one who created it!
What then of the next three verses, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by anything false. He will receive blessing from his LORD and vindication from God his saviour.”
I find it interesting that this follows a passage on the creation of the earth. We have these first two verses that proclaim the greatness of God, he did it he created it all. Then we find that it is possible to come near to the creator himself. This can be done on certain conditions. That those approaching the Lord have clean hands and a pure heart: This is in regards to life style, to what we refer to as morals, thankfully it’s not about having physically dirty hands but about not having put our hands and hearts to evil. The thing is that evil cannot come near to God, for he is Holy.
You might find yourself asking then, how can any of us approach God, well this is where it gets interesting.
If we look over at the book of Romans chapter 3:21-30 we get these words:
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.”
The truth is that it was God himself who through Jesus made it possible for us all to approach “the hill of the LORD”. We are here today worshipping God and giving thanks through the sacrifice and gift given by Jesus for our salvation. The God of creation has made a way clear for us to approach him.