Joy to the World…Joy of the Word!

Posted: December 20, 2011 in Faith/Christianity
Tags: , ,

I wanted to blog this week about Joy…no not my wife’s aunt Joy (although she’s a great gal), but the aspect and object of joy.  There are lots of ways we show joy, and many things that we think bring us joy.  But why be joyful?  I mean this is the Christmas season and we sing songs like Joy to the World…but what are we actually singing about, and what’s the ‘joy factor” all about?

I was reflecting on Hebrews 12 today and the object of joy it talks about, and then came across a post from Shepherd Press that also focuses on joy…but they’re both different objects of joy!  So I figured I’d combine the two in one neatly packaged post.

The first is from Hebrews 12, specifically zeroing in on verse 2;

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do you know what joy the author of Hebrews is referring to?  Just what was this joy that Jesus was thinking about when He was facing the most gruesome, enduring and painful moments of anyone’s life as he prepared to face the punishment of the cross?   What on earth could bring the kind of joy that would make anyone want to suck it up and take on Roman crucifixion?  Well the answer isn’t a what, but a who…and that who is you and I.  We were the joy set before Christ as He willingly gave up His earthly life in obedience to the Father, and endured the shame of the cross as God sacrificed His son’s life as an atonement (in place of/covering over) for our sinfulness.  It was the joy of knowing Christ would redeem us (bring is into right and restored relationship with God the Father) and save us (from eternal death and separation from God).

So as Christ Jesus hung there on that old wooden Roman cross, you…me…your family…friends…neighbors were on His mind and heart.  In that very moment when anyone else would have packed it in and turned tail, Jesus thought about the price He had to pay…counted the cost of what it would take from Him physically, emotionally…then thought of you and I…and said ‘Yep…it’s totally worth it!’ (well I’m kinda adding my own words, but I bet He said something to that effect!).

Can you imagine that Jesus, the very person and nature of God…the very word (logos…spoken word of God) revealed to the world, took so much joy in His creation…you and I…that He would stare a brutal and inhumane punishment and death in the eyes and say ‘bring it on!’  All the weight of the sins ever committed by everyone before, and after, were laid on Him, and yet He still felt complete and utter joy in us…hokie doodle!  So if you’re little down today and having a tough time finding joy…let me lay this on ya friend…you’re pretty stinking special and valuable to God!!!  I can think of a lot of things that bring me joy (my relationship with God, my familysports, chocolate, ranch dressing, BC mountains, finding an obsence amount of money in an envelope with my name on it, etc...), but not enough to want to endure anything remotely like death by crucifixion. Now go and take some joy from that thought, and pass it along to someone else who needs to hear it!

Now that was the object of joy to the Word of God…so now let’s talk about the object of joy to rest of us…the world.  Enjoy the brief article below!

Joy to the World!   Why? (from Dec. 20, 2011 article from Shepherd Press)

Isaac Watts’ Christmas carol, “Joy to the World,” is one of the most beloved of all the Christmas hymns. The words to this hymn (at least the first verse), are known throughout the world. This hymn is a call to joy. But what is there to be joyful about?

For Watts, the joy is based upon the first Advent of Jesus Christ. The King of Creation was born as a baby, to live a life that would accomplish the rescue of millions of lost souls. The only fitting response is joyful submission to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Apart from the rule of Christ, man is hopelessly lost, a slave to his own misguided and failed attempts at self-atonement. Watts’ carol brims with joy, and a call to bow before the one, true King.

See how this plays out in the first verse:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing…

“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98. The four verses of the hymn continuously intersect with the truths proclaimed in the Psalm. You can see this by comparing verses 4-7 with the carol’s first verse.

4 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,

  burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the LORD with the harp,

  with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—

  shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,

  the world, and all who live in it.

“Joy to the World” does shout for joy! The cursed creation receives her King with song. Our first parents doubted God and brought sin and God’s curse to all creation. Try as we might, there ultimately is no hope, no reason for joy in a world living in rebellion to God.

Why “Joy to the World”? Because now there is hope; there is a good and powerful King who will set all things right! Watts’ hymn may be likened to a first primer on embracing a biblical worldview. Yes, the world is a mess, a mess to which each human who has ever lived, save one, has contributed. But the Lord has come! In response to the cynicism of modern culture, we can declare the truth:  Joy to the World!

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