Isaiah 52:10 “The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.”
Isaac Watts wrote ‘Joy to the World’ because he was sick of the lifeless worship music that put so many people to sleep in church. The mindless reciting of verses had no passion. ‘Joy to the World’ was about making praise a joyful experience. But it took 100 years for it to catch on – as a Christmas carol!
But by making ‘Joy to the World’ a celebration of Christ’s arrival, we can see the prophet Isaiah’s message of the coming Savior of mankind in this beautiful song that is being sung across America during Christmas.
Prior to our verse for this week, Isaiah has been warning Israel not to follow the foreign nations around them who are bent on destroying them, but instead to listen to the Lord as He instructs them through his words. In the preceding verse, Isaiah sounds like Isaac Watts – telling everyone to break out in song over their joy in their God, who is their Lord and Savior: “Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people. He has redeemed Jerusalem” (Isaiah 52:9).
This is the birth of Jesus Christ, as Luke’s Gospel tells us: “I bring you good tidings of great JOY which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10-11).The arrival on earth of God Himself, who took on human flesh in the humble form of a baby born into a poor family in the Middle East, has been seen and understood to be all of mankind’s hope for salvation across all the earth, just as Isaiah said in 730BC and David before him in 1,000BC.
But there is a greater significance to our verse than just His arrival. When Isaiah calls Jesus Christ God’s holy “arm”, he is making a very significant point in attaching this title to Him. It is the end of Isaiah chapter 52, in verses 13-15, and then the entirely of Isaiah chapter 53, that explains the mission of this Person whom God will send for a very specific reason He gave in our verse: to bring salvation to mankind.
In Isaiah 52:14, the prophet explains that this Messianic figure will be so badly beaten that His appearance will be unrecognizable: “His appearance was marred more than any man”. And yet, Isaiah 52:15 says the spilling of His blood will be for an offering, to cover, or atone, for the sins of the world: “So shall He sprinkle many nations.” And when this happens in history, rulers across the world who hear of this event will be so moved that they will deeply consider the significance of His suffering: “Kings will shut their moths at Him. For what had been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.”
When we sing ‘Joy to the World’ this season, we must appreciate its full message. There is a baby born in a manger who is our Messiah, the God-Man, who fulfilled His Mission and purchased our salvation on the Cross of Calvary because of the JOY set before Him – to redeem all of us from our sins. The New Testament book of Hebrews says it well: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). As Isaiah promised, the whole world pauses each year at this “Christ” mas season to celebrate His Arrival and the salvation He offers to us. Christmas is the perfect time to ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #428