The Latter Rain: Celebrate Lent – Day 12
1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, * the world and all who dwell therein. 2 For it is he who founded it upon the seas * and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep. 3 “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord? * and who can stand in his holy place?” 4 “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, * who have not pledged themselves to falsehood, nor sworn by what is a fraud. 5 They shall receive a blessing from the Lord * and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”
The Israelites always used the image of ‘going up’ or ‘ascending’ as they went to worship the Lord God at the Temple. They understood that God was always above them and their desire was to somehow come into the Lord’s presence, to rise into His presence in worship. That thought carried over into the architecture of churches through most of the last two thousand years. Churches were always built on a high foundation with steps to ascend up into the sanctuary of the Lord.
As we prepare our hearts to worship the Lord on this second Sunday of Lent, we should ask the same question as the Psalmist, “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord?” Are we worthy to ascend from this earthly existence into worship of Almighty God…in His very presence?
The Psalmist gives us the answer to our question…whomever has clean hands and a pure heart is worthy. Our Lenten journey is to help us do just that. In our special times of prayer, fasting, and giving we ask the Lord to wash our hands and hearts so that we can have an ever increasing experience of His transforming glory. We wash our hearts through prayers of confession in preparation for worship. We wash our hands through works of mercy in loving outreach to others. Repentance is at the heart of the whole season of Lent.
But as you journey toward the cross this year, don’t miss the blessing. It is not just about repentance but also about celebrating the love of God who descends upon us, so that we may be lifted up into His presence. A love that not only forgives but transforms us into an ever greater likeness of His glory.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
When we realize that God condescended to us in the incarnation of His son, Jesus, we realize just how great His love is for us. Nothing would stop Him from reconciling us back into His presence. Now, through the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit, each us who believe have become sanctuaries of the Lord’s presence.
“To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you.“ ST. Theophan the Recluse
The Psalmist tells us that those who make the journey into God’s presence with clean hands and pure hearts will, “…receive a blessing from a blessing from the Lord, and a just reward from the God of their salvation.” What could be a greater blessing than to stand redeemed in His presence…this is the latter rain falling on believers who have thirst and hunger for Him.
Image credit: https://revivenations.org/blog/2016/05/28/mountain/