Hands Clean

When I was a kid I loved climbing things, mostly trees and buildings and mountains. It was a lot of fun getting to the top. It didn’t matter how long it took or how hard I was breathing, the fact that I made it to the top was good enough. I think we all like that feeling. The feeling of accomplishment of coming nearer to a goal. We used to play this game when I was little called King of the Hill. And the last one standing was the winner. It was a group of you and your friends who met at the top of this hill and whoever could push everyone else off the hill would win. Of course, the biggest and strongest won most of the time. Which would have been me, lol.
So, there is this King of a pretty prestigious city called Israel. He is to be considered one of the greatest Kings of Israel. His name was David. He lived and breathed God. One day as he was struggling with this idea of being nearer to God. He asked a question: “Who can be where God is?” Then he figures out that the only way to get to God is with clean hands and a pure heart. Now this word pure in the original hebrew.aramaic language lent itself to the idea of completeness or wholeness. So, in essence, David is realizing that it is God alone who can make us ready to experience Him even deeper. We can’t on our own make ourselves pure or complete. So, what is he saying. That we must depend on God. We must acknowledge our neediness of Him. That we can’t do it without Him. In a sense, we must come to terms with our brokenness. And the oddity is that the ancient scriptures say that God is near (elbow-to-elbow_ with the broken-hearted. That it is as if he is right there with you. The greeks believed your heart was not just the biological organism. That is was central to who you were as a person. And David is saying that the only way to God is by having a full complete self, or being. Then he also says someone who has clean hands can meet with God in the highest place. You see the Jews would have interpreted the mountain as two different things: (1) the highest mountain in all of Jerusalem and (2) quite possibly Moses encounter with God on Mt Sinai. And this would also explain God’s holiness, since His dwelling is in the highest of heights. He is separating Himself from his creator. He is making the distinction that he, all by himself can’t begin to compare to the Lover of his soul. He is also making a connection with creation. That it isn’t creation that can complete who He is. There were many religions during that time that gave homage to creation, to the point of making parts of nature a god. And David is setting God apart by saying, it is not creation that can save me, but the one who created the mountain I will climb. He also speaks of clean hands. Hands were used for all kinds of tasks, dirty tasks, and even mischievous ones, but also good ones. And so he is saying these are the things that will get you closer to the King. Again, clean has this idea of being whole. That it is perfect. Purity (pure = empty or beloved) was not something to be taken lightly in the Jewish culture. If someone was unclean they were usually banished from the town in which they lived at least for 7 days or until they were considered clean by the temple priests. Some people lived outside the city, it became their home. So, David is really saying that only someone who is considered clean can come to Hill of the God. Or in God’s presence or have friendship with their Creator. He is also saying that he doesn’t want to be separated from His King. A King who is giving Homage to the King of all Kings. In our modern day language, what David would be saying is he (which is anyone, the offer is to whoever wants it). He who has pure motives, and an open heart that has only be reserved for God. Do you have those things today? You see there is this strange contradiction going on here. On one hand, those two things cannot be done without God. But, then it is assumed that if you know God (now keep in mind the Messiah had not come yet), that God is the one who gives the very things he requires. It is as if God is saying: “Yes, I know you have made a lot of mistakes and maybe you have gotten yourself covered in mud, and maybe you have even bad intentions for living the way you live, but, I want to be with you. I love you, you are my son or daughter. And I want you to be in my presence. What you have to understand about the presence of God is that it is the most intimate place to be. There were a group of ancients who lived some time ago. They believed that even if you just thought of God that you were somehow right where God was. Now, if God is everywhere as we believe, then God is the one who is surrounding us with His presence. And we can live in it, only because of what Christ gave up in return for the opportunity of knowing God personally. God set the standards and then He offered us the opportunity to let Him make us acceptable to those standards. David figured this out, that is why he later in that same Psalm instructs the Gates to the city of God to be opened. In essence, David is saying: “I am not going to waste anymore time”. You want to be with me and I want to be with you. So, I am coming to you. I want to drink of your presence. That is the offer. One other thing you must realize before you walk out of here today is that if you have ever done any kind of mountain hiking you know it is not always easy getting to your destination, sometime it is even painful. Yet, you are so very glad you made the trip. A lot of mountains in Palestine were very jagged. Very rough. David knew that getting into God’s presence and staying there, and making it a lifestyle wasn’t going to happen overnight. David began to realize something, that the journey was making him ready for the destination. That his somewhat ardous trek up the mountain of God wasn’t going to be cheap. Yet, even knowing this, he made the choice to go to the mountain of God. You see, all of you here have clean hands and a pure heart. Now, let me make this clear, it is only through Christ that this is possible. Not a good church attendance, not having verses memorized or even giving tithe. It is ONLY through Christ that you are qualified to march up the Hill of God. To be and experience the presence of your creator who is deeply in love with you.
Socrates (a greek philosopher) had a young college-age student come up to him one day and ask for instruction. The student wanted to know God more than anything…Master Socrates thought for a moment, and then he led the young eager student a nearby riverside and instructed the student to kneel. And then asked the student if he trusted him. And the student replied, I would trust you with my life master socrates. Then socrates took the student by the neck and shoved his head underwater for 15 seconds. Then socrates yanked the students head out and asked him what do you want more than anything? And the student replied in bewilderment, I want God more than anything master socrates. Seeing that the student did not get the point, he took the student by the neck and shoved his head underwater for 30 seconds, and the student by this time became frustrated and confused and didn’t understand what master socrates was doing. And in his frustrated voice answered the question of socrates : I want God more than anything while all the while breathing heavily. Then Socrates took the student by the neck one more time and shoved his head underwater for 1 minute. The young student was flailing his arms and started to drown, and just then socrates pulled the young man’s head out of the water and asked him the question a third time, what do you want more than anything young boy, and the young student answered while gasping for air: I want air. I want air master socrates. Socrates responded slowly: When you want God that much, then you will find Him.
How bad do you want God? More than oxygen? What if God became your oxygen? What if today you made a decision to chase after God? What if no matter how hard the climb you made a choice to climb and keep climbing no matter how thin the air got up there? That you’re only goal is to be with your King. In His most high place, where he dwells. Where His friendship doesn’t even come close to any earthly friendships. This is the invitation, the offer. Will you accept? It is a choice only you can make and have to want? What are you going to do?


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