Ascending the Hill of the Lord
In this study I want to draw on an ancient Hebrew tradition concerning the Messiah. I also want to share insights into the distinction between a relationship with God and a true life of fellowship with the Lord. And thirdly, I want to go a step further to show how the new covenant of Christ deals with the subject of 'Ascending the hill of the Lord.'
To set the tone for this study listen to what David says in Psalm 15:
"O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; he will swear to his own hurt and does not change; he does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken."
Where David speaks of the tent of the Lord and of God's holy hill, he is using Hebraisms that express a purity of fellowship with the Lord. In the new covenant our relationship with God is a matter of the cross. Our fellowship with the Lord is always be a matter of our heart and conscience.
David clearly states the case. We are unable to have true fellowship with the Lord if we are not walking in integrity, if we are not walking in the ways of righteousness, if we are not speaking truth in our heart, if we slander others, if we do evil against our neighbor, if we take up a reproach against a friend, and so the list continues.
The plus side of this is that when a person is truly born from above, the Lord places in that person a new heart and a new spiritual nature. In this new heart any form of defilement becomes a matter of great concern for the believer. John said that a true believer is unable to practice a life-style of sin because of God's indwelling.
A true believer has the most sensitive conscience of any person on this planet. What would never bother a person of the world cannot help but bring a believer to his knees. And this is where the Holy Spirit becomes our teacher and our judge in matters of the heart.
The apostle said, "We will know this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." (1Jn 3:19-21 nasb.)
The Greek word for 'condemn' (kataginosko) is a judicial term. For a believer it means the Holy Spirit has detected some wrongness in our hearts and is confronting us with it. This Greek term is used in only one other place in the New Testament. Paul expresses it when he confronts Peter over Peter's hypocrisy with Gentile believers.
"When Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned (kataginosko). For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he use to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcism." (Gal 2:11,12)
This was an issue of the heart that the Holy Spirit would not let Peter get by with. Here the confronting was done through another apostle.
It is important to understand that the Greek term used does not speak of a damnatory sentence. It deals with a heart judgment, where wrong doing needs to be corrected.
The question that now concerns us is if a believer can override the Holy Spirit in a matter of the heart? Yes, it does happen. But two things will come into place. The believer's life will begin to sour spiritually. He is still a child of God but without open fellowship with the Lord.
Secondly, if the matter is not corrected then another form of judicial action is made that is summed up as 'the discipline of the Lord.' (Little needs to be said about that.)
Now let's draw on an ancient Hebrew tradition concerning the Messiah. The ancients used a term, 'iqvot haMashiah,' which means the 'footprints of the Messiah.' What it means is that the Messiah leaves His footprints in the souls of those who belong to Him, and especially to those who long for Him. They used this expression with a view to eternity past and eternity future.
This may sound peculiar to us, but it is linked to the certain prophetic writings, and thereby to the apostolic writings. Note Psalm 85:10-13, where the Psalmist says,
"Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. Indeed the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce. Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way."
Did you catch it? God will make Messiah's footsteps into a way.
A term used to express the faith of early Jewish believers was, 'the Way.' (Greek 'o hodos.') The term itself can mean 'the road,' or 'the journey,' or even 'that way.' Because of its prophetic Messianic overtones it was taken up very early by Jewish believers with regard to their walk with the Lord. (You find references to 'the Way' in Acts 9:2; 19:23; 24:22)
Where it says, "Truth springs from the earth," this surely speaks of Jesus. Isaiah 11:1 says, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit." Jesus was every bit a man. His body was an earthly body just like ours.
Where it says, "Righteousness looks down from heaven," this would relate to the voice that came out of heaven; "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." (Matt 3:17)
Again notice where the Psalmist says, "Righteousness will go before Him and will make His footsteps into a way," The pronouns 'Him' and 'His' are capitalized. They speak of God and His Messiah.
The footsteps of Jesus eventually carried Him to the cross. There His feet were nailed to the wood. He was taken down and placed in an empty tomb. From there He arose. He walked out of the grave. Where did His footsteps then take Him? He departed from the earth and ascended to the throne of glory.
This is where 'who shall ascend the hill of the Lord' has to take on an additional meaning in the new covenant. It does not do away with our fellowship with the Lord, but takes us on into the finished work of the cross. According to Paul, when Jesus ascended on high He took us with Him.
In this case each believer has positionally already ascended the hill of the Lord in Christ. This is the story of the finished work of the cross.
So, on the earth we have the practical side of walking out our fellowship with the Lord, but in heaven the work has already been completed. On earth we are to continually seek to walk with a pure heart, all the while knowing that our place in heaven has been secured.
Does the Lord not pass us through the cross and to our final destination and placement in His eternal kingdom? Yes, a thousand times yes. Every child of God has a divine imprint in his soul saying, 'Belongs to God.'
Every child of God has imprinted in his or her soul 'the Way.' When Jesus said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life," that becomes our own heart beat. Thus the footsteps of Jesus are in us.
It is this imprint of Jesus that keeps us longing for our final destination. Paul says each of us has a bit of heaven already placed in us as a deposit.
Paul said, "In the future there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2Tim 4:8)
Let me finish this study with one more thought. In our ascending God's holy hill, we need to know that Jesus Himself has not only gone before us to make the way, but His eternal promise is that He will personally walk with us every step of the way.
So one question remains. Have you found the way to God's holy hill? If not, don't look for it in a religion. People who look for truth in a religion will never find the way to heaven. There is only one way -- When we find Jesus we have found the Way.
Think about it.
Think about it.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was shared on March 2, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added March 2, 2007
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