Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. (Psalm 24:3, 7, ESV)
When you read the Psalm for today, it’s helpful to picture King David leading the Ark of God back into Jerusalem and into the Temple. The streets are full of people following David, worshipping the Lord who created and owns all the world yet wills to dwell among His chosen people.
Yet, David muses, who can enter the Lord’s most holy place? It can’t be just anyone casually trying to get close to God. Only those with pure hearts and hands can enter God’s presence. In other words, such a person not only has to get the actions of worship right but the motives and heart to do them for the right reasons.
I talked about this passage with my wife, for I didn’t know just how to think of this passage in relation to Advent. I don’t want to write anything contrived, but then she mentioned a great illustration. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had a unique opportunity to enter the holy place of God, and his heart was judged as impure. When the angel Gabriel told him that he and his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in their old age, Zechariah scoffed and doubted. God shut Zechariah’s mouth to discipline him for his unbelief. Deceit and impure obedience won’t be tolerated.
Wow! So, what can any of us do? If Zechariah, who was called blameless before the Lord, could be struck mute for his unbelief, what can we expect when we ourselves go before the Lord?
After Zechariah’s son John was born, he worshipped God for fulfilling His word. Zechariah had gone through his time of discipline and responded with humility toward the Lord. He prophesied in Luke 1, speaking to his son:
 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:76–79, ESV)
Zechariah learned by experience that God is faithful to the covenant promises He makes. God sent the Lord of glory (Psalm 24:7) into the world, His own Son, to open the way to God. As Zechariah prophesied, the Lord Jesus entered the world like a sunrise on people trapped in darkness. He brought salvation, light, and even peace.
The greatest of all blessings is having God in your life, present with you, to guide you, save you and give you peace. David recognized this as he sang Psalm 24. Do you recognize this? Jesus came to bring you back to God. Like those outside the gates cried out, I’ll echo in close today, “Let the King of Glory in!”