Joy to the World

Christmas is almost here, all of the expectancy and foresight is about to erupt into everything that has been building for the past month. Before we know it, Christmas will be past, and we will not know what to be looking forward to next. The toys and trinkets we get will soon be dated and due for an upgrade. The clothes we get will wear out or be out of style before long. All gift cards will be spent (or forgotten about), all the eggnog will be gone, and eventually the lights will come down. It seems like all of the joy that we were anticipating at Christmas slips away somehow. 

I want to pause and think about the joy this season ushers in. Some of it is superficial, yes, although the eggnog is pretty darn good. But what about the bigger sense of joy that always springs forth during the advent season?

One popular Christmas song that can only be heard this time of year is 'Joy to the World.' This hymn was originally written by a man named Isaac Watts in the year 1719. As of the late 20th century, this song was the most published Christian hymn in North America. Watts based this hymn after Psalm 98, speaking more particularly to Christ’s second coming, now with His first coming behind us. In the finished work of Christ, there is finality and permanence. God has dropped the sins of the world into the black hole of Jesus’ death, and He has initiated the project of making all things new in the resurrection of Jesus. Upon Christ’s return, all of new creation will be actualized, and there will be no more more bondage to corruption and sin, there will be a joy that cannot be revoked.

As Watts wrote,

No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make

His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

Upon the full ushering in of God’s kingdom, His redeeming hand will reach into every dark corner and and uproot everything that plagues the world and defaces the dignity instilled by God in all that He has made. However, this is not solely for the future. This is something that we can enjoy and rest in now as we await the second coming of Jesus.

The psalmist writes,

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; burst into songs and make music… Let the sea and everything in it shout; let the world and everyone in it sing.

Psalm 98:4, 7

We live in the present most effectively by knowing what the future holds. We can live with joy knowing what has already been accomplished, and awaiting with eager expectation what is also coming. It is good news for everyone, because it is something that does not change with seasons.

Listen here for a deeper look into joy in the final week of Advent.