Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? (Psalm 24:3)
Relate: Above there is a picture of a mountain followed by today’s verse asking who may climb the mountain of the Lord. I just want to clear up any possible confusion by saying right up front that no, the picture above isn’t the mountain of the Lord. The “mountain of the Lord” is Jerusalem. Often called Mount Zion in the Bible, Jerusalem has a much more gradual incline than this mountain pictured here. Just because the climb is gradual, however, doesn’t mean it is an easy ascent. Anyone coming from Galilee in the north to worship in Jerusalem during one of the festivals would not consider that final stretch very easy. They would head south towards Jericho and then cut west up to Jerusalem. From Jericho to Jerusalem is a fifteen mile walk, and you’re climbing more than 2/3 of a mile uphill. Try that some day and tell me how easy it is.
From the time of Ezra until a few decades after the death of Christ on this mountain pictured above, a signal fire would be lit to let the northern tribes that it was time for one of the festivals. Anyone from Issachar, or Zebulun and Nephtali, the place of Jesus’ ministry (see Matt 4:15-16) would see the signal on this mountain and then swing around it on their way past Jericho to the City of God, the “mountain of the Lord”.
Relate: The journey to go meet with God, to gather and be with the people of God, would begin by seeing this mountain of an alarm clock. I could imagine Joshua thinking, “Great. I’ve got a backload of work to do. James is old enough to walk the whole way this year but now we’ve got Jude as well. Mary will keep an eye on those two so I’ll have to keep a look out for Jesus. Last year he decided to get in an argument with the pastors and we were halfway home before anyone noticed.” It is said that getting ready for church is the most hectic hour of the week. Just imagine turning that into the preparation for a three day holiday.
Hecticness. Is that a word? I just used it so it must be. It is because of this “hecticness” that we need the 24th Psalm and the other Psalms of ascent. Early in the morning the Mount Tabor alarm clock tells me what time it is. Before anything else begins I take a moment to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation (vs 1,2). The journey there is a time of reflection. Have I kept myself pure? Have I kept God first in my life? Have I been honest? The ascent is a time of reflection and repentance (vs 3-6). When this has been done, the time of worship can be one of victory. It is a time of celebration. I won’t need to spend most of the worship time trying to get my heart in the right place. I am already there. Mount Tabor, the alarm clock, has served its purpose.
Let me be a man of pure heart. Give me clean hands and a sound speech. When I enter into Your presence, meet me there. Let me see You as You are: the great and mighty King. Let me never take for granted what an awesome and beautiful privilege it is to meet with you. Let that honor be always a joy, and not a burden. For You are the only thing worth climbing for.