Subject: Christmas Part 6 – Jesus Christ = The True Joy to the World
Psalm 98:3,9 “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.. He is coming to judge the earth.”
Christmas is not a day on the calendar but actually a 12-day celebration. It begins on December 25th with the celebration of the birth of the Jesus Christ and ends on January 6th with the celebration of the Incarnation, when God became a man. So we are actually just coming out of Christmas this week. So to end our celebration of the season of God coming to earth, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the most cherished Christmas songs – ‘Joy to the World’ – and its real meaning that is often missed.
But before we look at the meaning behind ‘Joy to the World’, let’s take a look back at 2015. We can all agree that we are living in one of the most unstable and dangerous times in American history:
1) We are approaching $19 trillion dollars in debt, which is about $60,000 of debt per US citizen and adds about $20,000 in interest every second. 2) Americans saw 2015 as the year we officially lost our status as the #1 largest economy in the world. It is now China.
3) America has lost its moral compass as we continue to reject biblical authority in favor of pluralism and political correctness. We have become so sensitive to avoid offending anyone, we can’t agree what is right vs. wrong, or good vs. evil. 4) Americans have become more polarized and divided than any time since the 1960 race riots, whether the issue is skin color, political party, or religious belief.
5) Americans have no faith in our government officials to guard our interests. Our United States Congress has an 11% approval rating at the close of 2015! The fact that a neurosurgeon, a real estate businessman and a business executive, all with no political experience, could be serious candidates for the President of the United States shows how fed up we are with career politicians,
6) Americans also watched us withdraw our position as the world’s #1 superpower, with a president who apologizes to other nations for American exceptionalism rather than confront nations who threaten global security and freedom. 7) Global terrorism is no longer something Americans see as impacting them when they travel overseas. It is in our cities, at our doorsteps, murdering members of our families,
8) Americans vote year over year for our military as our most trusted institution (a 75% approval rating). Yet we have reduced our military to its lowest levels since post-WWI. This is at a time when America’s enemies are threatening our national security (North Korea just tested its first hydrogen bomb, Iran is approaching nuclear capability, and radical Islam has terror cells now in every US state).
So that’s a sobering look at 2015. If you are someone who has faith in humanity to save us from these eight dangers that we have created, it’s a very bleak outlook. But if you are praying that God will intervene and have mercy on us for our sins, then the hymn ‘Joy to the World’ will give you hope. You see, Isaac Watts wrote ‘Joy to the World’ in 1719 not as a Christmas carol but rather to highlight how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of Psalm 98. God’s work of salvation has been revealed in history by the accomplished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and His promised return to judge the world.
As we exit this Christmas season, listen to Pastor RC Sproul on how ‘Joy to the World’ reminds us that our faith is only in Jesus Christ: “This famous hymn is one of my favorite carols because it faithfully conveys the resounding message in Psalm 98 that Jesus saves. Salvation is completely of the Lord. Christ is our Victorious Warrior whose “right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (Psalm 98:1). He is our Savior: “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (vs. 3). He is the Prophet who reveals His Father’s will. “The LORD has made known His salvation” (vs. 2). He is our King (vs. 6) and Judge (vs. 9). He saves us from the penalty, pollution, power, and ultimately, the presence, of sin.
We can learn from Joy to the World and Psalm 98 not to sentimentalize Christmas by merely seeing Christ as a helpless baby apart from His mission. Christ our Savior must also be our Victorious Warrior and Judge. For the believer, Joy to the World is a message of joy. Our joy is in the finished work of the Lord, whom we glorify and enjoy forever. Psalm 98 is replete with references to joy—“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice…Shout joyfully to the LORD, the King…Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD.”