Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

You can start at the beginning of this series here.

You can read about peacemakers here.

 I had a little more trouble choosing today's topic.

Nothing has been rolling around in my head on any "Beatitude" in particular.

The two that stuck out during my prayer time today were this one "Blessed are the pure in heart..." and "Blessed are those who mourn..."

We'll save mourning for tomorrow, unless God has other plans or I don't feel much like writing tomorrow...

Regardless, today we're talking about purity.

Not just any purity, but a specific kind: purity of the heart.

The verse in the NLT reads:

"God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God."

I commented on an article this morning about sexual purity in particular, and have discussed that topic here before.  Having a pure heart isn't the same as being pure sexually (I'm not even sure sexual purity is a thing we should be talking about in the way we've been talking about it anymore...  read about that here.) pure. 

The scripture referenced in the margin next to Matthew 5:8 (the verse about which we're speaking today) is Psalm 24:3 - 6, a Psalm of David.

Keep in mind, that Jesus's audience during the Sermon on the Mount, where he delivered the Beatitudes is made up of primarily Jewish people.  Everyone in the audience would know their scriptures far better than most of us know ours today.  When he spoke this Beatitude, most of the audience would immediately think of the reference to the Psalm for their definition and understanding of the teaching.

Psalm 24: 3 - 6 says this:

"Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
They will receive the LORD's blessing,
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob."

The verses above are followed by words familiar to those of us who attend contemporary worship services on a regular basis:


This Psalm is one of praise and thanksgiving.  David is stoked about God here.  Stoked about His holiness and the standards He holds for his people.

Here's the thing about David.



He wasn't exactly pure.

He did... some bad things.

Like... just for example... he had one of his best soldiers killed intentionally on the front lines so that he could get away with sleeping with his wife. 

He also broke God's command about not accumulating large amounts of wealth for himself (Deuteronomy 17:17). 

He made mistakes.  Some bigger than others. 

And yet God calls him a man after his own heart.

And David writes this Psalm about God praising him and talking about just who will get to worship God on his mountain. 

Is David counting himself out?

Note that it says 'whose hands and hearts are pure' - not just hearts, also hands.  David's hands were not pure.  He had killed many in battle - and God told him that's why he couldn't build the Temple.  God wanted his Temple to represent peace rather than war, so David couldn't build it - even though it was the desire of his heart - that duty fell to his son, Solomon.

All this gets me questioning.

Because I know I've told my share of lies in the past.  I've probably put a few things before God as idols.  Does that mean I'll never get to "see God"?  Never get to "worship on his mountain"?

Possibly.

David loved to talk about how awesome God is.  How holy and pure and mighty and amazing.  He loved God whether he was getting to worship on the mountain or not.

But honestly, I can't imagine "the man after God's own heart" not being there at that fabulous party.

In fact, Ezekiel 35:23- 24 the scriptures say that after the Lord's return, David will be set up as a shepherd over the people (as a prince among men) to rule even after his death in God's New Kingdom.  Later, it speaks of "the prince" (David) again (Ezekiel 44:3) as the only one who may sit inside the gateway to "feast in the LORD's presence".

Surely David is seen as one who is "pure in heart".

In spite of his mistakes.

How can this be?

When I think on this, I think back on David's life.  He made mistakes.  He was sorry for them.  He danced before a God he believed was merciful and just and judged a man based on the core of his heart, of his being, of his soul - not just on actions, mistakes, mess ups - but on Who He Is at his depth.  David messed up royally...  but he understood God's mercy, God's wisdom, and God's might better than anyone other human apart from Christ himself.

I figure we can take a lesson from David.

There are some who are naturally pure in heart.  Some who never even think to lie.  Who put God first at all times and never have selfish ambition.

For this we must strive.

When we mess up, as some of us are sure to - we must remember David as our example.  Contrition, understanding of sin and just how far that puts us from the Almighty - but also God's great love and power to bring us back.  To make us pure again.

In Isaiah, the prophet is aware of his own impurity as he stands in the presence of God:

"...I saw the Lord.  He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.  Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings.  With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.  They were calling out to each other,

     'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven's Armies!
     The whole earth is filled with his glory!'

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.  Then I said, 'It's all over!  I am doomed, for I am a sinful man.  I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.  Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies.'  Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  He touched my lips with it and said, 'See, this coal has touched your lips.  Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.'" - Ezekiel 6:1 - 7

 God has the power, if we have the desire, the understanding, and the need.  It's about the struggle, the desperation - the longing to be worthy.  None of us are perfect. None of us are truly pure.  Yet if we want it.  If we wish it.  God can make it so.  Ezekiel cried out, understanding that he should be dead because of his impurity before God.  But God sends his angel to bend down and touch his lips so that he could understand that he was good enough.  He was right enough.  He was pure enough.  He was pure.

May the seraphim touch all of our lips.  All of our hearts.  All of our souls.  All of us.

And make us pure.





3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen!

Jaime Potter Alvarez said...

Amen!

Jaime Potter Alvarez said...

Amen!

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