VOL. XV. DECEMBER 15, 1894. NO. 24.
"WHO SHALL ASCEND."
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart: who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek the face of the God of Jacob."--Psa. 24:3-6.
IN this psalm the prophet David takes the standpoint of the dawn of the Millennial age, when, after the great time of trouble, the kingdoms of this world will have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev. 11:15), --when the "Times of the Gentiles" will have been fulfilled, and "he whose right it is" will have taken unto him his great power and begun his glorious reign. Those who have studied the plan of the ages and its times and seasons know that this is due to be accomplished by the year 1915,--only twenty years future from the present time. Then will the words of this prophecy be fulfilled--"The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein; for he hath founded it upon [instead of] the seas, and established it upon [in place of] the floods."--Verses 1,2.
The earth, the world, the seas and the floods, the hills and the mountains are all used here, as in numerous other instances, in a symbolic, and not in a literal sense, which would be absurd in this connection. The earth and the world represent the present social order of things, or human society as at present organized. The seas and the floods represent an increasingly large class of mankind which restlessly recoils against the restraints of the present social order and at times grows turbulent and threatening. The hills and mountains represent governments.
When the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, it will not be because all the kingdoms of this world will have been converted to God and purified, and their kings permitted to reign by the grace of God, as they now claim to do, and because all the now restless masses of men will have become docile and submissive to the present governing powers; but it will be as the prophet declares, because God will have "founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods." That is, the present earth, or social organization, and the present heavens, or ruling powers, will have passed away, and the new earth will be established upon the ruins of the old. When the waves of the restless sea-element of society shall have arisen in their might and overwhelmed the whole present social order, so that the wild and stormy sea of anarchy shall prevail everywhere, then, amidst the wreck and ruin, the desolation and universal despondency and despair, the voice of Jehovah will be heard, saying, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psa. 46:10.) And out of the wild commotion of that stormy sea God will bring order and peace.
Instead of this restless sea of humanity he will found the new earth, the new order of things; yea, and he will firmly establish it upon [in place of] the floods: there he will establish his Kingdom "which cannot be moved." (Heb. 12:28.) And he will set his King upon his holy hill of Zion, and give to him the nations for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for [R1744 : page 388] his possession. (Psa. 2:6,8.) Then indeed shall the King, the Lord's anointed, reign in righteousness; and princes shall decree justice (Isa. 32:1); and, in consequence, there shall be abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. --Psa. 72:7.
There will then be but one Kingdom (mountain or hill) in all the world--the Kingdom of God; and his Anointed will be King in all the earth in that day. (Zech. 14:9.) This hill or kingdom of the Lord is that to which the Psalmist refers when he raises the question, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place?" To ascend into the hill of the Lord is to come into his Kingdom as loyal and obedient subjects, as true citizens, worthy of all its blessings and privileges, and not as aliens and foreigners, having no part or lot in the common interests and inheritance of all the true and loyal people of God, viz., eternal life and all its blessings of righteousness, peace and everlasting joy. Who indeed shall be counted worthy thus to ascend into the mountain of the Lord? "And who shall stand in his holy place?" The reference here is to the antitype of the typical temple of God, which, standing upon the top of Mount Zion, prefigured the glorious true temple, the Church of the living God, in Kingdom power and glory. Who shall stand in that holy place in that age of glory and blessing now so near at hand?--who shall be counted worthy to reign with Christ in his Kingdom?
The answer to both inquiries is the same-- He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." These will be the required qualifications for citizenship in the Kingdom, when the Kingdom is established; and they are also the qualifications required now of all those who would be heirs of that coming Kingdom. It will be observed that the qualifications mentioned are not those of faith (for faith in the gospel of the Kingdom, which includes faith in Christ the King and Redeemer, is implied in the desire to be in the Kingdom in any capacity); but the qualifications mentioned here are those of character. The Scriptures elsewhere make more specific mention of the necessary faith, but always implying a character consistent with the faith. (Acts 16:31; John 3:16,36.) The prophet does not ignore faith, but points to that character which is the legitimate consequence of a true faith exercised unto godliness. A faith which does not produce character is null and void. (Jas. 2:17.) Therefore it is plain that both the heirs and the subjects of the Kingdom of God must have that character which is both begotten and developed by the faith of the gospel; for if the faith of the gospel be held in unrighteousness there is no place in the Kingdom for any such. (Rom. 1:18.) Let us consider the character-requirements here mentioned.
"Clean hands."--That means clean actions, clean conduct. If bad habits of any kind have been cultivated, they must be promptly forsaken. The hands must not be defiled with the holding of bribes, nor with the gain of oppression, and every evil thing must be resolutely put away. (Isa. 33:15.) It is in vain that any profess loyalty to God and to his anointed King and Kingdom while they continue in a sinful course of action. Loyalty to the Kingdom signifies determined opposition to sin in all its forms, and a firm resistance of it.
"A pure heart."--That signifies purity of will, intention or purpose, which, like the needle to the pole, always turns toward righteousness. Though some sudden or strong temptation may for an instant, through the weakness of the flesh, draw it to the right or to the left, yet quickly it recovers its normal position which is true to righteousness and truth. A pure heart loves righteousness and truth, and hates iniquity. It loves purity, and despises all that is impure and unholy. It loves cleanliness of person, of clothing, of language and of habits. It delights only in the society of the pure, and shuns all others, knowing that "evil communications corrupt good manners."
"Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity." Pride is an abomination to the Lord and to all those who partake of his spirit. It is a weed which, if once permitted to take root in the heart, will soon crowd out every grace. The Psalmist says, "I hate vain thoughts;" and such should be our sentiments. The grace of [R1744 : page 389] humility, meekness, is one of the most beautiful that can adorn the character. It takes a sober estimate of personal qualifications, is not puffed up, does not behave unbecomingly, and seeks to exercise its talents, not for pride and vain glory, but for the joy of doing good. It is modest, candid and sincere, both in consideration of its own qualifications and those of others. What comfort and pleasure are found in the society of those possessed of such a spirit.
"Nor sworn deceitfully."--Those who make a solemn covenant with the Lord, and who thereafter wilfully despise or ignore it, have sworn deceitfully; and surely no such disloyal subjects can be admitted either to citizenship or heirship in the Kingdom of God. But those who, in this age, have made a solemn covenant with God and who are true to their covenant, even unto death, they shall ascend into the holy place, the temple of God--they shall be the heirs of the Kingdom, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; while all such, in the age to come, shall be recognized and privileged citizens of the Kingdom. These shall receive the blessings of the Lord promised in his Word. After first receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ through faith, they may, under divine grace, be made perfect in righteousness and worthy of eternal life.
This is the generation of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Men do not obtain these blessings without seeking them, nor without seeking them in God's appointed way-- through Christ, by humble reliance upon his finished work of redemption, and by the full consecration of all their ransomed powers of mind and body to his holy will, which is only our reasonable service.
Beloved, ye who are called by his grace to stand in his holy place, let us ponder these things. Are our hands clean and our hearts pure? are we humble and faithful to our covenant? Let us see that we meet these conditions, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus.