Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent 1 Midweek Sermon -- Psalm 24 (LSB Advent 1H)

December 3, 2008 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church - Mechanicsburg, PA

“Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”

The gates must be opened to the Coming One, the King of glory. So the Psalmist tells us. They are to be open for the Promised One’s arrival, “He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Open the gates, for this King has come to accomplish great and mighty things.

The prophet Jeremiah tells the people of the Lord: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which He will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” What the prophet describes is the same King of glory of whom the Psalmist writes.

“Who is this King of glory?” the Psalmist asks. He answers: “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” This is “the Lord [who] is our righteousness.” How is He our righteousness? What will this King do? He will “ascend the hill of the Lord.” He will “stand in the His Holy Place.” So the Christ will do in order to “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This He will do, for there is none other who can.

The Psalmist says: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” How poorly this describes you. Your hands are stained with the blood of those whom you hate and your heart is soiled with the guilt of lusts and avarice. Your soul clings to its false gods and you pledge to do what you will not. The hill of the Lord and His Holy Place are off-limits to you.

But the King of glory who comes has a rightful claim to them. The Lord of Hosts who comes in the flesh can climb the Temple Mount and enter the Holy of Holies. Though when He does so, when Jesus fulfills what the psalm describes, He goes to accomplish salvation for you. He goes up with His clean hands, pure heart, righteous soul, and truthful mouth. These He offers as sacrifice for you, for your salvation. That is the King of glory, even in the midst of humility. That is the Lord of Hosts to whom Jerusalem’s gates open, as “He comes in the name of the Lord.”

This the Christ does, so that “[you] will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of [your] salvation.” This Jesus accomplishes, so that you might be made part of “the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” The King of glory comes to redeem the world that “He founded upon the seas and established upon the rivers.” All this He achieved when He arrived to the crowds’ song: “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

But the same King of glory promises a return. For a second time the cry will go out: “Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” This time, there will be no mistaking His identity. Jesus will appear, and at His name “every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” The prophet tells us: “The days are coming . . . when they will say: ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where He had driven them.’” He promises: “Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

That is yet to come, what shall transpire. You do not anticipate an atoning sacrifice, but the King of glory to return. You await the appearance of the Christ who will take you up to “the hill of the Lord,” who will make you stand in “His Holy Place.” For His promise to you is a place that He has prepared for you. He promises that He will come and take you to be with Him, so that where He is, His servant may be also. And this shall be so, because the King of glory has made your hands clean, purified your hearts, made your soul righteous, and placed His truth in your mouths, so that you may call Him: “the Lord is our righteousness.”

A place on the Lord God’s holy hill and in His Holy Place awaits you because the King of glory has made you His own. So you will receive His blessing as you seek Him where He can be found in this world. His Spirit calls out to you: “Open your soul’s gates, so that the King of glory may enter in. Unstop your ears, so that you may hear His words of blessing. Open your mouths, so that you may taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Lift up your heads, O people, for the Lord of Hosts is coming. He has already been “strong and mighty in battle” against your enemies, routing sin, death, and Satan. And now the Victorious Christ comes to gather you, His people, for He is your righteousness. Thus you will dwell securely as He reigns as King of glory and deals wisely with you. Lift up your heads, so that Christ may come to you in this Adventide and on the day when He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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