Prepare to Meet the Lord--Your King of Glory!
Enter now my waiting heart, glorious King and Lord most holy.
Dwell in me and ne’er depart, though I am but poor and lowly.
Ah, what riches will be mine when Thou art my Guest Divine! Amen.
The gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Everyone who does not believe has no excuse, for God’s presence and power are revealed throughout His created universe.
The Kingdom of God is found within the hearts and minds of people who have been led by the Spirit to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. That Kingdom will ultimately be revealed when Jesus returns in glory.
Text: Psalm 24
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah.
In Christ Jesus, Who is “the King of Glory,” dear fellow redeemed:
If you were able to choose to meet absolutely anyone and invite that person into your home, whom would you choose? Would you like to meet President and Mrs. Obama and have them come to your home? Would you like to meet a famous Hollywood actor or actress, or have a television personality come to your home? Would you like your favorite professional athlete to come? Whom might you choose and have come? Having decided on the individual, how would you then prepare for that person’s arrival? I would imagine there would be quite a list of things to get done within your home. You would clean the house especially well and perhaps complete a list of repairs and upgrades. You would no doubt go to the beauty shop for a new hair-style or get a hair-cut and buy a new outfit or select your finest clothes. You would prepare or even cater a good meal…all this in preparation for the coming of this special person whom you wish to meet.
“O LORD, how shall I meet Thee, how welcome Thee aright?” (TLH 58:1) We sang those words to open our service today. Today is the 1st Sunday in Advent—a time in which we focus our attention upon Jesus’ coming…His first, of course, but more importantly His final. We were not here on this earth to meet Jesus when He came the first time. We may well still be here when He comes the final time. How shall we then prepare to meet Him?
You may or may not ever have the chance to meet and entertain that famous person you had in mind as I asked my original question. In the end, even if you did that would prove to be of minor importance to your eternal future. Jesus Christ, however, will come again and, as Job states so clearly, He will “stand at last on the earth.” Whether you are still alive at this time, or have already died, Job goes on to say that you will in your own flesh and with your own eyes “see God” (cf. Job 19:25-27), who is without question the most important person in any of our lives. How then should you and I prepare for His coming and that meeting? We will not be inviting Him into our homes, but rather we pray to spend eternity in His home. My dear friends—let us PREPARE TO MEET THE LORD—THE KING OF GLORY!
Who exactly is the King of Glory? In Psalm 24 David describes Him in Trinitarian form as “the LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle, (and) …the LORD of hosts!” Three times the King of Glory is identified as “the LORD”—that personal name claimed by the one, true God of the Holy Scriptures. It signifies the God who knows us intimately, who cares about us personally, and who has sought and won our redemption by sending into this world a Champion on our behalf—His own Son, Jesus Christ. This Psalm of David is a Messianic Psalm identifying Jesus, the promised Savior, with the LORD Himself.
He is “strong and mighty” as demonstrated by His act of creation. He said, “Let there be…” and everything came into existence through the power of His Word (cf. Gen. 1). Jesus is identified as “the Word” in John’s Gospel, and we are told that “all things were made through Him” (Jn. 1:3). The apostle Paul expands on that theme when he writes concerning Jesus: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). Jesus is the Creator of all and is also now the Ruler of all. Consequently, David is exactly right when he begins this Psalm with the statement: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.”
The LORD…the Triune God created us and the whole world. It, therefore, and we belong to Him. If we fail to understand and acknowledge this profound and fundamental truth of our existence, we will get everything else wrong and ultimately deprive ourselves of the full range of blessings God would bestow upon us here as well as the eternal future He is preparing for us. We belong to our Savior God! By nature we human beings rebel against that thought. We want to be free and independent. The truth of the matter, however, is that we never are, for we are either God’s created beings living in rebellion against Him and subject to Satan, or we are God’s created beings guided by His will and guarded by His hands. What a comfort it is to know that we are God’s possession and so protected by Him against all dangers. That which we are privileged to possess in this world in reality belongs to God. That too is a wonderful truth, for it means that we need not worry about anything apart from how we might best honor Him through our stewardship of His possessions. Let us, therefore, PREPARE TO MEET THE LORD—THE KING OF GLORY!
What has the King of Glory done for us, and what does He still do for us? Those questions are answered in the same way that David’s two questions are answered. David asks: “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?” David’s questions imply a gulf between God and man. He is high, while we are low. He is holy, while we are by nature unholy. David answers his own questions in this way: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” But who among us can honestly claim to have “clean hands and a pure heart”? Who among us has always kept the first table of the Law and loved God above all things…at all times, and under all circumstances? Who among us has always kept the second table of the Law and loved our fellowmen as Christ has loved us? (cf. Mt. 23:37-39) We have all fallen short, as the Scriptures and our personal experiences testify.
That is why we cannot look to or depend upon ourselves to gain the right to stand before our holy God. We must look to the King of Glory—our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the One who came 2,000 years ago on that first Christmas night to be our Savior! He is the One about whom the angels sang and said that He brought peace on earth and goodwill toward men(Lk. 2:14). He is the One who brought “blessings” from His heavenly Father—truth that abides forever, forgiveness for sins committed, and as David suggests “righteousness from the God of his salvation!” The man with “the clean hands and a pure heart” is you and I, as we cling to our Savior in faith having believed that God has justified the ungodly (cf. Rom. 3:28; 5:6) and imputed to us all the righteousness of His Son (cf. Rom. 4:23-24). It is as His believing children—as believing “Jacob” that we can now “seek His face,” trusting in Him, adoring Him, and honoring Him with our every word and action. Yes, let us PREPARE TO MEET THE LORD—THE KING OF GLORY!
But how then should we prepare to meet our precious Savior upon His return? David cries out twice, as if for emphasis: “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!” David is urging us to prepare both our minds and our hearts. “Lift up your heads”—our heads…our minds are so often pre-occupied with the things of this world…our earthly desires achieved by our earthly decisions. We go about our business, often without much thought to God’s desire, planning where we are going to go and what we are going to do. David says lift up those heads—acknowledge the truth that God is the Creator of this universe and that He has a plan for where each of us is to go and what each of us is to do. Our destiny is something we are joyfully to discover as we prayerfully proceed to make the decisions of our lives. Paul writes: “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). God did not create you and me for small things. He did not create you and me to fail. Let us trust in Him, seek His guidance, and then pursue the goals He lays on our hearts with the full confidence of His ongoing presence and blessing. That is how we truly “lift up (y)our heads” to our coming Lord and Savior!
“Be lifted up, you everlasting doors”—Jesus once said to the Christians in the church of Laodicea, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:19-21). Those words were spoken to Christians who had become “lukewarm” in their faith-lives (Rev. 3:16)…not unlike, I fear, many of us here in the United States of our day. We have been so blessed in so many ways in comparison to others in our world that we tend to think that we can do quite nicely on our own and without God’s help. Let us lift up the doors of our hearts to Jesus. Let us hear His voice and open those doors to our hearts, so that He might come in and bring with Him the blessings of His abiding presence.
My dear friends, the King of Glory is coming! Oh, it is true that He has already come in a humble manger in Bethlehem. It is true that He continues to come right now into our lives with His blessing. But, it is most certainly true that He will come once again in glory at the end of time. Will we be ready? Will we be waiting? Let us PREPARE TO MEET THE LORD—THE KING OF GLORY with minds attuned to His truths and hearts open to His presence, for then we will experience all that God has in store for us throughout an eternity of bliss in His presence. Amen.