“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?”
Has it happened to you, too, that you forgot your password, your identity word? A colleague returning from a vacation said: “Hey Peter, I can’t access the program any more, I have forgotten my password.” It is customary today that one must identity oneself for each and every thing with a user name and a password in order to receive access to a certain program or service.
The Bible also knows such conditions that must be met in order to receive access to certain places, or also to be able to be present as participant at certain occasions. A very interesting story of this kind can be read in the Book of Judges, where even a kind of password, an identity word, is being used. A quarrel had erupted between Gilead and Ephraim. Jephthah, the leader of Gilead, wanted to punish the men of Ephraim. In order to capture them, the Gileadites besieged the ford across the Jordan, which the men of Ephraim wanted to use as their way of escape. However, the crossing of the Jordan was to continue to be permitted for people who were not involved in the quarrel. So the Gileadites required a password to identify the men: “The Gileadites captured the ford of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” then they would say to him, “Say now ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the ford of the Jordan” (Judges 12:5-6). Thus, everyone who wanted to go across had to identify himself by means of this password and prove in this way that he was not a fleeing Ephraimite. Otherwise, he would be killed.
In the New Testament, Jesus shows in a parable that not everyone has automatic access to the heavenly marriage feast: “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’” (Matthew 22:11-12). Subsequently, this uninvited guest was thrown out. He was denied admittance to the feast because he did not meet the conditions: he did not wear wedding clothes.
Already in Psalm 24:3, the question is raised, who has access to God, to the glory of heaven: “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?” This question is very important for every one of us. When we became God’s children and were born again to a living hope, the living God Himself gave us the “admission documents.” Yes, He even gave us a totally new identity: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
God has given us a “password”: “Jesus!” Several Bible passages confirm this: “… through whom also we have obtained our introduction into this grace …” (Romans 5:2). “Through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The uniqueness of the name of Jesus is also clearly shown in Acts 4:12: “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Indeed, there are quite a few who have never used this password. Spiritually, they are in highest danger of death. And others—children of God—sometimes forget the password and look for the solution to their problems everywhere except with Jesus! I would like to encourage everyone: Use the password of God, whose name is Jesus! God may not unconditionally solve the problem, but He will loosen you from the problem! Therefore: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).