“The Songs of Christmas”
(Joy To The World)
- From the website of Forest Baptist Church in Forest, VA, I learned this tid-bit of information about the song that I did not know…The opening line of Joy to the World is sometimes sung incorrectly as, “Joy to the world! The Lord has” That is not what Watts wrote. He wrote, “The Lord is come.” Watts was not describing a past event (the birth of Jesus) but rather looking forward to a future event (the return of Jesus). The main point of Psalm 98 (which Watts himself clearly understood) was not about the first coming of Jesus, but, rather, about His Second Coming! And that’s precisely what the song is about. It speaks of Jesus’ final coming to earth when “the Savior reigns” and when “He rules the world with truth and grace.” Watts longed for that glorious final day when the “nations (will) prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”
- Even though Watts may not have ever envisioned his song being sung at Christmas time, I think it is a wonderful tribute to his work. Indeed, the first advent of Jesus stands as a historical guarantee that His Second Advent is just around the corner. Indeed, the birth of Jesus and the return of Jesus are “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
I. Joy To the World
A) The Shepherds were the first to know
- In reality, Mary was the first to know of Jesus birth, then Joseph, and then her cousin Elizabeth whom gave birth to John the Baptist. This was family.
- Outside the family, the shepherds were the first to be told about Jesus birth.
- Luke 2:8…And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
- Here we know that it was at night, in the summer or early fall of the Middle East (between our August and September). We know this because of history that never dies in the eastern countries. It never changes. Their habits, customs and beliefs have never changed. So unlike America.
- In the eastern countries, the shepherds would be tending their sheep in the mountains during the winter months as it was safer. But since the Bible tells us that the shepherds were in the fields, it was more mild weather as in summer or early fall.
- By the way, Jesus was not born on December 25th. Highly unlikely.
B) The Angel of the Lord appears unto them
- Now look at verse 9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
- We have expressed this many times especially when the Christmas story is told… “the angel of the Lord” typically means Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Here it is specifically an angel of the “Lord (Jesus Christ.)”
- “The glory of the Lord” is the light of God. The electric company would be withered at the thought of wattage involved with His light.
- The word “light” is often a word used in the Bible to describe understanding or the knowledge of God or Godly things.
- I personally believe that this “glory of the Lord shone around about them” was a light that would draw attention to the shepherds and help them to be more receptive of the authority behind the event of that night.
- What made the shepherds afraid was the fact that it was an unusually bright light that filled the sky and their field.
C) Joy explained
- Let us now look at Luke 2:10…And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
- This angel of the Lord told the shepherds to “Fear not.” The shepherds were obviously afraid and so the angel wanted to share with them the “good tidings” or in other words “the good news.”
- This “good news” was something the Jews have long anticipated and waited for… the coming of “the Messiah.”
- What is important to note here is the fact that this verse DID NOT SAY… “which shall be to the Jews only.” It said “which shall be to ALL PEOPLE.”
- “All” meaning Jews and Gentiles. “People” not animals or planets.
- True “Joy” is something that can be experienced by God’s people only. That “joy” is experienced the minute one accepts Christ as their Savior and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the person’s heart.
- I believe that this is the same “joy” that Jesus talks about in Luke 15:10… Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
- I believe that it is that same “joy” that the disciples experienced when Jesus had visited them after the resurrection in Luke 24:52…And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
- I further believe the words of Jesus in John 15:9…As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10) If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11) These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
- True “joy” can only be experienced with Jesus Christ ruling in your heart, mind, body and soul. To “know” him is to have an intimate relationship with Him. Most people are like Satan…they “know of” Him.
II. The Lord is Come
A) The first Advent has taken place
- In our text verse of Luke 2:11…For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
- 12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
- This verse is the account (not a story) of the first Advent of Jesus Christ.
- The word “Advent” means “coming.” In this verse it is His birth.
- This verse describes where he is coming… “…the city of David.” Bethlehem
- This verse describes the purpose of His coming… to be “a Saviour.” A person who saves people, rescues them from danger (in this case, Hell).
- This verse tells us how to know He has come… “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” A typical wrapping of an infant is a blanket that is wrapped tightly around the body to not allow any movement.
- “Swaddling clothes” are strips of cloth to wrap a dead body in (as in mummification). This is “the sign unto you” that the angel told the shepherds. This is how you will know that this child is the Savior, the Messiah, the King of kings, Emanuel. Stop and think about it. A baby born in a manger would not be a sign… it happened often.
- A child born in Bethlehem was not a sign, that happens often as well. Sometimes children were bathed in the manger (feeding trough of the animals.) I have cousins that were bathed in a horse tank. It is not a sign.
- The sign was his wrapping was a sign for them to know that Jesus, the child born in Bethlehem “was born to die.”
- The purpose for children to be born are… to “be fruitful and multiply.” To grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Their purpose is to live for God, honor God, love God, be obedient to God. No child was ever born or ever will be born to die.
- This was the first Advent. “The Lord is come.”
III. Let Earth Receive Her King
A) On earth peace
- Look at Luke 2:13…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
- We have studied on the angelic hosts of Heaven filling the skies praising God before. Now let us focus on what they said…
- “Glory to God in the Highest.” This is said as David had said in Psalm 89:5… And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
- Jesus being born was of God… II Corinthians 4:6…For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
- The “light” that God commanded to be in the world upon the day of creation is the light that shines in our hearts which is the knowledge of God expressed in the face of His Son Jesus Christ. To be saved, you must understand that the glory of God is shone in the face of Jesus Christ.
- It is this “light” that brings “peace.” To understand the things of God and His Son Jesus Christ brings peace to the hearts and souls of those who accept Him.
- It is not “peace” as in a resignation from war. It is not a peace to the unsaved, the lost, the heathen (idol worshipers). It is “a peace” for only those who repent of their sins and make Jesus Lord of their life.
- Jesus tells us in John 14:27…Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you…”
- Note that Jesus said “…my peace I give you.” This is a voluntary act. This is a free gift. And it is a gift that the world cannot give you.
- This “peace” is not anything like the world has to offer.
- Some people think that the peace of God comes from His creation… sitting in the forest listening to the birds chirp, the wind blow, the sun glistening through the pines and etc. That’s not peace. Jesus is peace.
IV. Let every heart prepare Him room
- To “prepare” means to make ready for a specific purpose; to make suitable. 2. To equip or furnish with necessary provisions.
- How do we go about “preparing room in our heart” for Him?
- Get rid of the trash (sin). God cannot stand to be near sin. God will never be able to live in a heart that is continually violating His Law. We must make it “suitable” for His purpose in our life.
- We need to cause our heart to desire Him. The necessary provisions would be… “To be holy.”
- To prepare Him room is to move aside the junk in our life to make ready a place for God to live in a clean environment suitable for His holiness.
V. And Heaven and Nature Sing
A) Heaven sings
- Singing is a response of “joy.” For heaven to sing means to have all within heaven… God, the angels, and the angels around the throne.
- Psalm 32:11…Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. Doing the right thing always with the right heart brings “joy.”
- Psalm 67:4 (KJV)…O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.
- Zephaniah 3:17…The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. When we accept His Son in salvation, God will rejoice over us “with joy.” And God also sings because of the “joy” for our salvation.
- Singing, joy, and praise, all go together. It is infectious. When God is joyful and singing, it causes all to be joyful and sing in praise to God.
B) Nature Sings
- Nature sings? How on earth can nature sing?
- Psalm 150:6 …Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. In other words…everything that God has made gives praise to him the creator.
- When “nature sings” it is mountains, trees, grass, and etc. that point to their creator. It is the beauty of the hills, and Grand canyons, waterfalls and such like that display His artistry and creativity.
- God made all of these things for us to enjoy, not worship.
- “Joy to the world, the Savior reigns, let men their songs employ. While fields and floods, rocks hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, re[peat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy.”