Who is God?
Who can appear before such a God?
Open up for God to come presence Himself with us!
These are questions this Psalm addresses.
God’s supreme authority (vs1-2)
Everything that exists in physical time and space, every atom and sub-atomic particle, every mountain range, every square metre on the planet is God’s! More than that every person who has ever existed, whether they acknowledge God as God or not, was created lovingly by God and for His glory and His purposes (Romans 11:36).
God is unmatched and unrivalled, God made everything and so God owns everything! The maker of something is its owner, they are the one who gets to determine the purpose and value. Since God created everything, God is in supreme authority.
Who can appear before such a God? (Vs3-6)
Greatness, majesty & authority necessitate respect. So, in light of God’s greatness, who can approach His awesome presence?
This God of king David’s, is not just supreme in authority but is also Holy. There is no sin in His presence and so to approach God requires ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ from anyone who enters His presence.
And this introduces a dilemma for you and I!
After all who can claim to have pure hands that have not ever done wrong and a pure heart too that has not ever thought or intended wrong?
No one! (declares Romans 3:10-12)
Yet, I love the unspoken assumption here; there is something hard-wired into us as God’s created image bearers that desires to be the presence of our God and Maker. Yet we have this dilemma, we can’t be in His presence with the state that our hands and hearts are in.
Paul writing to the Romans expresses this moral dilemma and then wonderfully reveals the solution God Himself provided to it;
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)
As Isaiah proclaimed; if we repent God will purify us from our sin and make us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we ask Him to. So thank God today for Jesus, thank God for forgiveness and therefore the ability to enter God’s awesome presence.
God wants to come close! (Vs7-10)
What an astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence we can come through the forgiveness Jesus offers us.
Even more astounding is this, that it is God who takes the initiative and God who wants to come and presence Himself with us!
The image in vs7-10 is of someone at the gate of the walled city of Jerusalem asking to enter and the gatekeepers calling out; ‘Who’s there?’
8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah
The mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the King of glory, the Lord of hosts that’s who is knocking, that’s who wants to dwell amongst us, presence Himself with us! It’s incredible good news. This makes me think of Jesus in Revelation saying;
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
The King of glory wants to presence Himself with you, with us. We belong in His presence because He has removed our sin from us, given us His perfect righteousness so open the door, let Him come and presence Himself with you daily.
Invite Him now!
The renewal that started as Ezra read out the from the Book of the Law in 8:1-8 continues into a second day of rediscovering God’s word. In verse 13 we read that a group of people; heads of household, levites and priests got together for the express purpose of studying God’s Word together.
As they do so, they uncover a festival (the festival of Booths/Tabernacles) that had been ignored. It was a festival that looked back on the goodness of God’s care and provision for the people of God during the Wilderness years. They instruct the people to not mourn but to rejoice and to partake in this 7 day festival of feasting, sharing and joyful thanks to God.
So what? What relevance does this have to your life and mine?
Two things strike me from this verses.
1. Reading in Community
This rediscovery of God’s will for His people came about because a group of people got together to study God’s Word together. Historically, God’s word has not been read primarily in private but was more a communal activity.
We find this hard to imagine in our era which has the Bible unprecedentedly available on every device we own, and many believers frequently having more than one Bible in their homes.
There is something powerful about reading God’s Word in community, with others, allowing God to speak to you through others and to others from His Word. I love how this renewal of this festival God had initiated 1000yrs earlier was re-discovered as it were by the returning exiles as they read God’s word, studying it together.
I urge you to, not just read the bible alone, but to find ways to read it ‘in-community’. This will not only stimulate group learning but will also help to keep you from incorrect conclusions as you read and also provides some form of accountability for what you’ve felt God say through His Word.
This is one of the reasons in our church we have a Bible Reading Plan! By doing so, we are creating the context where by you and I can read the same passage in a day and share with one another even if we are not physically able to be in the same room.
You can also read in community, with your TRIO (A TRIO is 2-3 Christ followers who have committed themselves to an intentional spiritual friendship focussed on helping one another to follow Christ and His mission for their lives and the church) and or your Community Group.
2. The Ultimate Fruit of Repentance
The second stand out in this passage, is that the re-sensitisation to God’s word, the realisation by God’s people that they had sinned and failed to obey God’s commands did not only result in repentance and contrition.
When we have sinned and we see it, contrition (sadness over our sin) is appropriate but it is not appropriate to stay in that place! Contrition is part of repentance, it makes repentance possible in one sense but for repentance to be complete it needs to make way for the ultimate fruit of repentance which is JOY.
Where there has been true repentance joy is appropriate because having seen one’s sin, and having taken responsibility for one’s sin, and having asked God to forgive you of your sin, and having turned from your way of sin to a new way – then joy is the only appropriate response.
Scripture is clear that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Because God is faithful to forgive the repentant sinner, joy is the appropriate response for those who have been forgiven, as joy honours God as having forgiven.
Therefore, to wallow in self-pity and shame does not honour Jesus but rather implies that Jesus can’t or hasn’t forgiven you, or implies that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough or that God has withheld forgiveness from you.
Friend, when we see that we have sinned, wronged God, wronged others, contrition is appropriate but it leads to what is ultimate because of Jesus – the joy of having been forgiven and set free.
So, face up to your sin, be sad about it but then repent and be forgiven and then rejoice in your great Jesus who is able to save you to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Amen.
The word picture is of the Creator of the universe, spinning and revelling in joy before and audience of angels, and more than likely calling them onto the dance floor to join Him…
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Jesus
Jesus has just told the second short parable of three lost-found parables that are in told sequence. Jesus has just told the gathered hostile Pharisees and scribes is the parable about the woman who lost one of her valuable coins but then after a dilligent search finds it and throws a party!
Then Jesus makes this statement in Luke 15:10. So, what can we learn from it?
Firstly, maybe surprisingly, God is the one who is celebrating with joy before the angels! God Himself is compared to the woman who lost the coin, God is the primary one experiencing joy because of one person repenting! There is joy ‘before the angels’, and who is before them? None other than God Himself.
So why does God rejoice? What is it about sinners repenting that makes God so happy?
Just as the shepherd who receives back 1 of 100 sheep (1%), just as the person who receives back 1 of 10 coins (10%) and just like the Father who receives back half (50%) his family – so too God rejoices, celebrates greatly the text says when even one sinner repents.
- Because every person God created, He loves. He is their Father whom they have estranged themselves from and He wants to be reunited with them and so there is joy in every person’s repentance because repentance is the only way for people to come back to right relationship to the Father.
- Because there is joy over every one person who repents because every person has immense value to God.
- Because every person who repents honours Jesus’ life and work on the cross and because in repenting they acknowledge His Lordship, His rightful reign in their lives as King of kings.
- Because another saved sinner is another true worshiper of God.
- Because every saved sinner is another one rescued from the control of the evil one.
This second of the trilogy of lost-found parables is not the climax, the lost son is. But there again, one of the major themes is the joy of the Father in having His son back with Him, running to meet his son, embracing & kissing him, quick forgiveness, throwing a party and calling others to join in with the Father’s joy.
God dances, delights in every single person who comes to repentance. And therefore we know how to make God exceedingly happy while simultaneously transforming people’s lives here on earth and forever into eternity. When we share the Gospel with people and they believe and repent – we make God happy and we bless people forever and ever.
Let’s make God happy and truly bless those all around us!