“Good Tidings of Great Joy”
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10
“Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,” the angel told the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. What were those tidings? “For unto you is born this day a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 KJV).
The angel’s message brought great joy to the shepherds because the Jewish people had been waiting for the birth of the Messiah for centuries. Isaiah, and many other prophets, had promised that God would send a Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob, who would defeat Israel’s enemies and establish a glorious kingdom (Isaiah 47:4; 49:7).
When the shepherds arrived at the stable, I wonder if Mary and Joseph shared with them what the angel had told Joseph: “Call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Was that the message of joy the shepherds spread abroad the night of Jesus’ birth? Or did they glorify and praise God simply because they thought that the rule of their Roman oppressors would soon end?
What joy fills your heart this Christmas? Isaiah spoke of an everlasting joy three times in his book (35:10, 51:11, and 61:7). This joy encompasses more than the Savior’s birth, His past ministry on earth, and His future reign as King of Kings. It also refers to the joy that no one can take away from us (John 16:22). This joy, Jesus said, is available to us right now if we abide within the boundaries of His love and obey His commandments (John 15:9-11).
The exuberant lyrics of “How Great Our Joy” celebrate the everlasting joy we experience when we understand the completeness of the salvation our Savior, Christ the Lord, provides for us:
This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.
How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
The source of our joy is a person; the fullness of our joy is measured by the intimacy of our relationship with Him. The more time we spend in His presence, through prayer and Bible study, the more joy we will experience. How full is your joy?
Read Psalm 16. Why is the psalmist filled with joy? In verse 9 he gives an intriguing description of joy – “my flesh also shall rest in hope” (KJV). What does that phrase signify to you?
Read John 16:16-33. On the eve of His death, what did Jesus tell the disciples about joy? Which of the promises Jesus gave the disciples comforts you the most in your present circumstances?
Isaiah 35, 51, and 61 are messages of encouragement. Take time to read them this week. Choose one promise from each chapter and thank God for His faithfulness.
To read the lyrics of “How Great Our Joy,” a traditional German Christmas carol, go to http://nethymnal.org/htm/h/g/hgreatoj.htm
Denise K. Loock