For several hours we stood awaiting the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan. The crowds pressed in as the anticipation grew. As the tree lit up regaled in glorious colors, the music began. “Joy to the World” was sung triumphantly! The tears ran down my face as the Gospel was proclaimed before thousands of people and countless others on TV!
I love hearing music during the Christmas season – it brings joy to my heart! Many times if you stop to listen, you will hear the true meaning of the season broadcasted. “Joy to the World” is my favorite Christmas carol. It is rich with theological truths and musically draws my heart to the Lord in worship. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) penned the lyrics inspired by Psalm 96:11-12, Psalm 98 and Genesis 3:17-18 and it was set to music by George Frederic Handel, who composed “The Messiah.” Some sources say that “Joy to the World” celebrates Christ’s second coming even more than the first coming of Christ, but as I consider its meaning, it’s poignant either way.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.
The season of Advent allows us to refocus on the coming of Christ, preparing room again in our hearts and lives for the coming King. I ponder at times, “Am I preparing my heart for His coming again?”
Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns; let all their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rock, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sin and sorrow grow nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow as far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.
Interestingly, the earth anticipates the coming of the Lord. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:19-23) Heaven and nature are to rejoice. We are to rejoice as we realize that the curse of sin has been broken, and we are redeemed!
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love and wonders, wonders of His love.
The baby born in the manger is the Son of the Most High God who rules with truth and grace. Isaiah expressed it this way: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The nations rejoice (and one day all will bow down) because of God’s faithfulness in delivering salvation to the world.
During Advent as we prepare our hearts and minds, and those of our household, for the coming of Christ, let’s pray that God will:
- Give us an expectant fresh perspective on the joy that Christ the King has indeed invaded the world.
- Allow us to sing a new song and reflect a spirit of hope and peace.
- Grant us realization that our curse is removed and has been replaced with the righteousness of Christ.
- Bless us with a fresh wondering at his glorious truth, grace, hope and love.