1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
God has invited us to praise Him in His sanctuary. Yet, how can we even stand in His presence? Are not His power and glory overwhelming? Does not His holiness render “all our acts of righteousness as filthy rags” according to Isaiah 64:6? It seemed more like a suicide mission to me.
I was taught as a little boy to “say my prayers” before going to sleep at night. Mom or Dad would visit us at the “lights out” time to lead us. I would hear my older brother pray in the bunk above me and then I would pray. My prayers were primarily expressions of thanks for the blessings of the day and requests for God’s further blessings or His aid in our struggles.
When I was about four years old, my older brother’s prayers changed. My mom or my dad would ask him if he had any sin from that day that he wanted to confess and ask God to forgive him for. He did so freely and regularly. NOT ME! I felt guilty about my sin. That was not a pleasant feeling. My method was to ignore and forget about my sin, not talk about it!
Yet, here was my brother bringing his sin right out into the open and getting forgiveness for it. Even though I thought he was a worse sinner than I, I could tell that he had a different kind of relationship with God than I had. He was able to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16) and I was not. My “sweep it under the rug” approach kept me aloof from God in His sanctuary. I had no solution for my guilt, my shame and my fear.
I finally decided that I wanted what my older brother had. Probably fear of how God would judge me for my sin pushed me over the edge. I knew from II Corinthians 5:20 that “He who had no sin became sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God.” I knew that Jesus Himself “bore our sins in His body on the tree” (I Peter 2:24). So, I agreed with God that I was a rotten sinner at heart and I believed that Jesus suffered and died as God’s solution to my sin.
I remember closing my eyes that night and picturing the Lord Jesus dying on the cross. But it wasn’t a scene from a Bible story book about something that happened a long time ago. It was my story and it was happening right now! I saw my black heart with blobs of black tar flying off it and sticking to Jesus. My heart was becoming clean before my very eyes, and Jesus, God’s precious Son, was dying before my very eyes with His blood dripping down. God the Father accepted this sacrifice and I agreed with Him!
The other thing I remember from this life-changing moment was the wonderful peace I felt. There can be no other peace like it! I was permanently right with God! This is perfectly described in Romans 5:1, which says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That peace has never left me.
Years later, I learned that at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, the temple veil in Jerusalem was torn open, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). This showed that the body and blood of Jesus provide the way into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 10:19-20). Jesus truly is who He said he is: “The way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).
From this time on, I have come into God’s sanctuary and wholeheartedly praised Him for what He has done for me! I echo God’s invitation to you as well: Praise God in His sanctuary!