Psalm 100:2 (ESV) … “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”
The word “presence” can be rendered “face.” The essence of all true worship is to come into the presence of the Lord and to appear before His face in adoration.
At best, the Old Testament Hebrew could do this only from a distance, the Gentile from an even greater distance. People were given access to God, but only limited access. Between the sinner and a holy God, a number of barriers were erected. There was a gate to the tabernacle, giving entrance to the outer court. Once the gate had been passed, the seeking sinner was confronted with an altar and a laver to teach him that he needed a radical and a recurrent cleansing. Even when he had been accepted at the altar, unless he were a priest, he could approach no further. He remained in the outer court.
If he were a priest, he could pass the door, enter the holy place, and enjoy the benefits of the table, the lampstand, and the golden altar. But he could go no further than that—unless he was the high priest. He alone, after elaborate ritual preparation once a year, could lift the final veil, pass the last barrier, and come haltingly into the presence of God.
Calvary has changed all that. In the Church we have access right into the presence of God through Christ. Access! The story is told of a little boy who went up to London to visit the king. But he could not get into the palace; the gates were closed against him and a soldier stood on guard. Several policemen were walking up and down to move people along. “But I came to see the king!” the boy explained. “Can’t help that, sonny!” said the policeman. “You’re not allowed in there.” About that time a well-dressed gentleman came along and overheard the conversation, “What’s the matter, boy?” he asked. “I want to see the king,” the little boy replied. “Well, you just come with me,” said the gentleman. He held out his hand and the boy took it. To his surprise the policeman made no attempt to stop him, nor did the guard. Indeed, the guard sprang to attention and presented arms while the policeman unlocked the gate. In they went, along the corridors and right into the presence of the king. The little boy had taken hold of the hand of the prince of Wales, the king’s own son. That gave him access.
Such is the birthright of every believer today. He has taken hold of the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That assures him of access to the presence of the Father. In a coming day access will be available to all: “Come before His presence with singing.” It is an open invitation to all mankind. It will be a day of harmony and happiness for all.