‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?’ – Psalm 24.3Hannah Black:
Have you ever thought about what it looks like to be good enough for God? Those around us might say “surely going to church will make me good enough,” or “if I try to treat others well, God will have to accept me.” And maybe, if we’re honest, those things sometimes creep into our thinking too.
Psalm 24 puts that question of being ‘good enough for God’ into Israelite terms – “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” One of God’s holy places was the mountain, where he met with Moses to make the covenant with Israel. Later in the Bible story, the Israelites have a temple, which was a different kind of holy place to meet with God.
Helpfully, Psalm 24 also answers the questions it asks. In verse 4, the person who can meet God is “the one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol, or swear by a false god.” Well, who might fit that bill?
It can’t be Moses – his heart wasn’t always pure. Even though he met God on the mountain, he later went on to show that he didn’t trust him fully. (See Numbers 20…)
And it can’t be the Israelites either – their hands definitely weren’t clean. Even though they could meet with and worship God at the temple, they were worshipping idols too, and committing all kinds of sin against God.
To be honest, it can’t be me either. My heart isn’t pure, and my hands aren’t clean. Even if I go to church, and try to treat others well, I don’t come close to the Psalm 24 standard for meeting God.
But Jesus does – his heart is completely pure, his hands are completely clean, and he has never trusted in an idol or sworn by a false God. He alone is good enough to ascend the mountain of the Lord, and to stand in his holy place.
So is that it for us? Stuck at the bottom of a metaphorical mountain, looking up at Jesus, but unable to meet God ourselves? Of course not – God sent Jesus down the mountain to get his hands marked up, not with the dirt of sinning, but with the scars from the nails of the cross. When he died, he dealt with our sin – if you have chosen to follow Jesus, your hands are washed clean, and your heart is purified. Now you tick the Psalm 24 box – good enough to meet with God.
So who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Through Jesus, we can. That’s grace – God’s undeserved gift of forgiveness and a relationship with him. I invite you to join with me today in reveling in the beauty of this grace, and the joy and freedom it brings.