Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Joy to the World

One of our most famous and oft-sung Christmas hymns was written by Isaac Watts, and first published by the author in 1719. It was based on Psalm 98, and was included in Watts' publication of his collection, The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship. The influence of King David is readily seen when you sing "let heaven and nature sing" and then read,

        Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; 
break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 
        Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 
the world and those who dwell in it! 
        Let the rivers clap their hands; 
let the hills sing for joy together...  (Psalm 98:4, 7-8)

What many people don't understand is that Watts did not write the song to celebrate that Jesus came into the world, but to celebrate the promise that he is coming again. So, when you sing "Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her king," hear the poetry of King David,

        All the ends of the earth have seen 
the salvation of our God. 
        With trumpets and the sound of the horn 
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord! 
        before the Lord, for he comes 
to judge the earth. 
        He will judge the world with righteousness, 
and the peoples with equity.  (Psalm 98:5-6, 9)

Such reflections bring to mind the day when Jesus departed from this terrestrial plain, with the angelic promise, at that very same moment, he would one day return:

And when [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

Friends, that is our hope: This Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. Which is why Watts has blessed us with likely our best Christmas song, for the great hope of the Christian, and the world, is the return of the King. So sing this year like you've never sung before, Joy to the World, Jesus will come! 

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. 
(Revelation 22:17, 20-21)

Joy to the World!

Verse 1

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.

Verse 2

Joy to the earth! the savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

Verse 3

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,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

Verse 4

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, wonders, of his love.

Who I Am in Christ

An Advent Prayer: A Christmas As Big As the New Heaven and New Earth