In Matthew 5, we find Jesus sitting on a mountainside, surrounded by the crowds. He is speaking to a Jewish audience, most likely a group of people who have grown up going to Synagogue school and attending the great feasts and festivals at the Temple in Jerusalem. They have been instructed by the religious leaders of the day, with meticulous specificity, about what God requires of them in their daily life. In other words the question of entering the presence of God, or being acceptable to God, was constantly on their mind.
Before we consider the teachings of Jesus in the sixth beatitude, let us hear the words of David from Psalm 24.
The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Psalm 24.1-6)
I would remind you that since David wrote these words, the Temple was not yet built. So, the question of David is not so much “Who can go enter the Temple building?” but “Who may be in the very presence of God?” The answer to the question is quite simple. “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not life up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”
From the beginning, a pure heart has been important to the Lord. Just ask Samuel. When it came time to select the next king of Israel, God made it very clear: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16.7)
Jesus is still telling us today, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” May the Lord open our eyes this week to see the importance of our heart, to examine the condition of our heart, and to stir within us a longing to see God.