Are you ready? God is coming. We don’t know when, but He will be here. At any moment. So it’s not even a question of “will you be ready”. No. It’s a question of “are you ready”. Now.
Psalm 24 Of David. A psalm. Ps 24:1 The earth is the LORD'S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Ps 24:2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Ps 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Ps 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Ps 24:5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Ps 24:6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah Ps 24:7 Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Ps 24:8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Ps 24:9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Ps 24:10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory. Selah
Background on Psalm 24
I do not know if Psalm 24 has a setting in any event we know of from the Old Testament. But if there is a historical setting, I suppose it is the occasion on which David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from its temporary resting place in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite (2 Sam. 6). Symbolically, the God of Israel was understood to dwell between the outstretched wings of the two cherubim mounted on the lid of the ark. So when the ark was taken to Jerusalem, it would have been appropriate to have composed a hymn like Psalm 24 for the occasion. Twice over it intones,
Lift up your heads, O you gates …
that the King of glory may come in (vv. 7, 9).
The title of Psalm 24 identifies it as a psalm “Of David,” which also means that David may himself have composed it for the ceremony.
Yet I am not entirely happy with this explanation. At least I am not willing to stop with it. The reason is that, however important and moving the transport of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem by David may have been, it is not nearly as significant as the single occasion on which, much later, the true “King of glory” actually did enter the holy city. I am referring, of course, to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday.
Interestingly, the ancient rabbinical sources tell us that, in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, we may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem. The people who were outside the walls, who were approaching Jerusalem with him, exclaimed:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest! (Matt. 21:9).
Inside the priests were intoning:
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory. Selah (Ps. 24:9–10).
But the priests were not joining in the cries of acclamation for Jesus, and within days they would conspire to have him executed as a blasphemer. As far as the common people were concerned, even though some of them hailed him as the Lord’s Anointed on Palm Sunday, they would be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” before the week was out. 1
God is coming – but is this really about Jesus?
Sometimes you just have to wonder, do we read too much into some of the Old Testament writings? Are we putting Jesus in where we really shouldn’t? This can especially happen when we just read our native language Bibles, and even more so when it’s a simplified version. Easy to read. But part of what makes it easy to read also waters down the meanings of individual words. And then, before you know it, so much has been lost in translation (pun intended) that it no longer means what the original text portrayed.
Maybe it’s coincidence. Maybe not. But here’s something the author of our background information wrote on that topic – about this Psalm.
I have pointed out in dealing with earlier psalms that it is not always easy to tell which psalms are messianic, that is, which psalms actually prophesy something about the Messiah to come. This is because they are often couched in images based on natural situations or events. For example, they may speak of a king. But we wonder: Are we to think of the king as King David (or one of the human descendants of King David), or is this rather a veiled reference to the King of Kings, that is, to Jesus? Since it is not always easy to tell which is the case, we have to be cautious when we draw Christian allusions or teachings from these essentially Jewish poems.
But we do not have such a problem with this psalm. Some psalms may be ambiguous. But how can a psalm be ambiguous that speaks of opening the gates of Jerusalem to “the LORD” (that is, Jehovah), to “the King of glory,” or to “the LORD Almighty”? Here there is no ambiguity at all. 2
What might be lost in the translation?
Was Jesus really part of creating the earth and everything in it?
Let’s start right at the beginning.
Ps 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
We read that everything belongs to the LORD. But who is the Lord? God? Of course. But who is God?
This is especially an issue for Muslims. The Qur’an says that Christians believe in a polytheistic God. Multiple Gods. That we believe the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are three different Gods. But, that’s not the case.
Yes, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are introduced to us at different times in the Bible. However, from the very beginning, literally, they were all there. Three “persons” in one God.
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Look at the fourth word. “God”. Did you know, in the original Hebrew, the word is plural?
אֱלֹהִים (ʾĕlōhîm). n. masc. pl. God, gods, divine beings. Used for gods or divine beings in general as well as for Yahweh.
The word literally means “gods.” The form of the word is plural, but when it is used to refer to Yahweh it is usually treated grammatically as a singular noun and occurs with singular verbs and adjectives. When it refers to other beings, it is usually treated grammatically as a plural noun. It can refer to foreign gods or idols (Gen 31:17–35; Exod 20:3), angels (Psa 8:5), and spirits (1 Sam 28:13). Psalm 82:1 portrays God (ʾĕlōhîm) as holding court in a council of divine beings (ʾĕlōhîm). 3
So – plural or singular? How about both?
You see, in the very next sentence, we read: the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
What does all this mean? Let’s turn to a different author for this:
Christ Revealed. The preexistent Christ, the living Word, was very much involved in the creation. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). Jesus’ ministry is anticipated in Genesis 3:15, suggesting that the “Seed” of the woman who will bruise the Serpent’s (Satan’s) head is Jesus Christ, the “Seed” of Abraham mentioned by Paul in Galatians 3:16. Melchizedek is the mysterious king-priest of chapter 14. Since Jesus Christ is both King and High Priest, the Letter to the Hebrews makes this appropriate identification (Heb. 6:20).
The greatest revelation of Christ in Genesis is found in God’s establishment of His covenant with Abraham in chapters 15 and 17. God made glorious promises to Abraham, and Jesus is the major fulfillment of those promises, a truth explained in detail by Paul in Galatians. Much of the Bible is built upon the Abrahamic covenant and its flowering in Jesus Christ.
The dramatic story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac at God’s command bears a startling similarity to the crucial event of the New Testament. “Take … your only son Isaac, whom you love … and offer him there as a burnt offering” (22:2), reminds us of God’s willingness to sacrifice His only Son for the sins of the world.
Finally, Jacob’s blessing upon Judah anticipates the coming of “Shiloh,” to be identified as the Messiah. “And to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (49:10).
The Holy Spirit at Work. “The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (1:2). Thus we find the Spirit involved in creation. The Holy Spirit also worked in Joseph, a fact obvious to Pharaoh: “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” (41:38).
Although the Holy Spirit is otherwise not mentioned in Genesis, we see His work in drawing the animals from the four corners of the Earth into Noah’s ark. We also perceive His working throughout the lives of the patriarchs as He protected them and their families and as He blessed them materially. All sorts of difficulties and impossible situations beset the chosen family, frustrating, if possible, the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham; but the Spirit of God supernaturally resolved every challenge. 4
And there we have it. One God – but with, somehow we cannot comprehend, three “persons”. At least “persons” is the word we use.
To me, it always feels like three different ways that God gets things done and communicates with us. One of the best analogies I’ve heard is that the Father is a CEO. Jesus is the one who gets things done. And the Holy Spirit is how God communicates with us.
And who is the Holy Spirit? The Bible tells us, in different places, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son.
I encourage you to check out the inset box for more on the rather confusing topic of who is the Holy Spirit.
Who is the King of Glory?
The actual English words, “King of Glory”, appear only in this Psalm. However, if we look at verse 8, we get a good picture of this King of Glory.
Ps 24:8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
Jesus is that King of Glory, as we see below.
8. The watchers at the gate hearing the song look over the battlements and ask, “Who is this King of glory?” A question full of meaning and worthy of the meditations of eternity. Who is he in person, nature, character, office and work? What is his pedigree? What (is) his rank and what (is) his race? The answer given in a mighty wave of music is, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” We know the might of Jesus by the battles which he has fought, the victories which he has won over sin, and death, and hell, and we clap our hands as we see him leading captivity captive in the majesty of his strength. Oh for a heart to sing his praises! Mighty hero, be thou crowned for ever King of kings and Lord of lords.
9. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” The words are repeated with a pleasing variation. There are times of deep earnest feeling when repetitions are not vain but full of force. Doors were often taken from their hinges when Easterns would show welcome to a guest, and some doors were drawn up and down like a portcullis, and may possibly have protruded from the top; thus literally lifting up their heads. The picture is highly poetical, and shows how wide heaven’s gate is set by the ascension of our Lord. Blessed be God, the gates have never been shut since. The opened gates of heaven invite the weakest believer to enter. 5
Of course, we know in when Jesus was born, His first coming, He came as the suffering servant in Isaiah.
But His second coming, in Revelation and as prophesied in various Old Testament books, will be as the conquering King. The best example of this in Revelation is the passage about The Rider on the White Horse. About Jesus. BTW, since I mentioned the Qur’an earlier, I want to add something else here. The Qur’an says Jesus is not the Son of God. That God has no Son. It also has Jesus as the rider on the Pale horse. The horse of death. Sadly this is a misconception of who Jesus is. And it loses the entire Christian salvation promise.
The Rider on the White Horse
Rev 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”
Rev 19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
God is coming – Are you ready?
OK – so God is coming. Jesus is coming. And the Bible tells us that Jesus will come when we don’t expect Him.
The Day and Hour Unknown – Matthew
Mt 24:36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Mt 24:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Mt 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
That begs a question. Are we ready? Now? Not later, because that might be too late. Are we ready now?
I wrote some stuff about Islam above. Muslims are not ready for Jesus to return as the Bible says. Why not? Because their scripture tells them something else. The Qur’an says believing Jesus is the Son of God is wrong. And that their salvation is based on a weighing of the good and bad things they did in life. Very much different from what Jesus taught.
People who don’t know about Jesus won’t be ready either. They can’t be. That’s why Christians are to spread the good news of the Gospel.
But people who do know, and don’t care/think they’ll get around to Jesus eventually/just plain don’t want to believe – they won’t be ready either.
To be honest, I’m glad I lived as long as I have, because I don’t know that I would have been ready before either.
So one of the big reasons I write is so fewer people will want to ask at the end of their lives – “Why didn’t you tell me?” That question comes from a book I read, a true story, of a Muslim with a best friend who was Christian. But he learned about Jesus from someone else. He was able to ask his friend, while they were both alive, “Why didn’t you tell me” about Jesus?
You almost certainly don’t know me. You’re not my best friend. But I don’t want you to be vainly asking, too late, “Why didn’t somebody tell me?”
So I’m telling you. If you don’t already know the truth about Jesus / don’t know Jesus, please don’t wait too long to find out.
Image by Peter H from Pixabay
The post Psalm 24 – God is coming – Are you ready? appeared first on God versus religion.