The Eastern Gates, Jerusalem, Israel.
Most of us don’t live in palaces or fortresses. Few of us are surrounded by huge stone walls with sentries standing on lookout for enemies. And most of our visitors don’t stand outside our formidable gates or “ancient doors” seeking to come inside. But, such was the way in the days of the psalmist who wrote Psalm 24. He says:
7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
All that has happened so far in this psalm has been leading up to this mighty climax, most probably, the entrance of a victorious army carrying the Ark of the Covenant, signifying the presence of the “Lord Almighty…the King of glory” into Jerusalem, the City of David.
Of course, as Blaiklock suggests, although the “Ark was a sign of God’s presence…David was clearly anxious that neither Ark nor hill should be considered the dwelling place of deity – like some tribal god, confined…to a narrow house. The Ark was no more than a symbol…Hence the stress [in verse 1] on the Lord’s work as Creator.”
And so, what follows is this interesting dialogue between those on the inside and those wanting to gain entrance.
Blaiklock describes the scene:
“…the gates of the old fortress of Zion are in view and dramatically the cry arises for their opening. ‘Gates, raise your arches, rise, you ancient doors,’ the Jerusalem Bible renders it, as though the very walls should open and the great wooden leaves swing back of their own accord before such a demonstration. God is coming in, throned in a multitude of hearts, as the glorious King.
‘Who is He?’ cries the single voice, dramatizing the watchman who demands name and password. The words and the answer are repeated. In the midst of the pageantry it must have been a thrilling moment…The Lord of Hosts, ‘the Commander of all heaven’s armies’ (LB), is demanding admittance.” (see references # 37)
The psalm doesn’t tell us, but I’m pretty sure that the gates were opened, and with great enthusiasm and awesome worship of the One described in this psalm as:
Creator: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Holy: Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
Saviour: They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Saviour.
God of history: Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
King of Glory: Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
The Lord, strong and mighty in battle: Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
So, how does this apply to us, as Christians, in 2017? Maybe the architecture has changed but little else about the state of mankind, and the sort of ‘spiritual warfare’ type activities happening in our world. If you live in the Korean Peninsula region of the world, there is the very real threat of nuclear war. If you live in the Middle East there are the ongoing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. If you live in South America there is political unrest and strife happening in a number of countries. Then there is tension in Africa and terrorism in Europe. In Australia the pressures are different – with questions of same-sex marriage and other vital lifestyle issues being pressed for by certain minority groups.
No less than in David’s day, we need to be clear in our understanding of who the real enemy is, and Who is on our side. We need to remember that it is the LORD who created and owns this earth we live on is for us. He is sovereign over all the nations of the earth. We need to remember that He alone is Holy and Just and will work out his purposes throughout the nations. That he is the One and Only Saviour of the world, the one who came to save and not to condemn and so this is the message we proclaim. That he is the God of history, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and we are living in His-Story here and now. And that as messed up as our world is and as strong as the forces of evil may appear, our God is the King of Glory, strong and mighty in battle. Victory is ultimately His.
Whether we like to admit it or not, as Longman says, “Christians too are engaged in warfare [see Ephesians 6:12]. Psalm 24 encourages [us] that [our] God continues to fight for [us] in the midst of the turmoil of life. [We] also wait in hope for the future reappearance of [our] Warrior, Jesus Christ, who will bring all evil, human and spiritual, to an end.” (see references # 30)
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 wages 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 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] 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. (Revelation 19:11-16)
Father, just as Elisha prayed, we ask, ’Open [our] eyes, Lord, so that [we] may see.’ Then , as you did then, ‘the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha,’ so may we see your world as you see it, and live accordingly. (2 Kings 6:17) Amen.