TEXT: Psalms 98:1-4
INTRODUCTION: In the 1700’s, Isaac Watts penned the words to a song that is very popular at this time of the year, “Joy to the World”. It’s not unusual to hear the song sung or played in shopping malls, restaurants, school plays and of course, church services. According to Watts’ testimony, the source of inspiration for the lyrics was the 98th Psalm.
It cannot be disputed; the coming of Christ most certainly did bring joy to the world. In 2018, his coming is still bringing joy, especially to those who know Him personally. Let’s take a closer look at this passage to see the reasons for the joy that has come to the world.
In Psalms 98:2 we read, “The Lord hath made known his salvation. His righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.” When Jesus came to that stable in Bethlehem, God wrapped His gift to the world in human flesh and put him in a manger. In Titus 2:11 we read, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men.” That little baby was the Christ of the cross, and in Him was revealed the wonderful gift of salvation.
Notice that the psalmist wrote, “…In the sight of the heathen.” When we think of heathen people, we tend to think of those living in some remote, uncivilized jungle village. When God thinks of heathen, He thinks of people like us. If we remember to see ourselves for what we truly are, the gift of salvation will mean so much more to us. What amazing grace!
God’s gift of salvation was revealed through the shepherds. They were the ones that were chosen to spread the good news of Christ’s birth. Later on, the message was revealed through the disciples. As Jesus met with them in His post-resurrection body He commissioned them to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” A personal soul winner revealed the gift of salvation in your life and mine. Someone told you about the gift of eternal life and how you could receive it by faith. Since that night in that manger, God has been working to reveal His gift to people, and those of us that have received it should rejoice!
Not only can we find joy in revealed salvation, we can rejoice in the fact that God chooses to be merciful to us. In verse 3 we read these words: “He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel…” Aren’t you glad for mercy? Can’t you rejoice in the goodness, the kindness and the faithfulness of God, as it is evident in your life?
There will never be a time in your life when God will forget to be merciful. He promises us in Lamentations that His mercies are new every morning. Like a recurring morning alarm that consistently wakes us up, God’s mercies are there each day when we awake to face the day. God, knowing what we will face and knowing how we will fail, has already prescribed mercy for us. Amazing!
The truth is, this Psalm has much more to do with the second coming of Christ than it does the first. In verse 9 we read, “Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.” When Jesus came the first time He came to save the world. When He comes the second time, He will come to judge the world. Let me assure you, it is much better that you choose to establish your relationship with Him as your Saviour than it will be for you to be forced to establish a relationship with Him as your judge.
The great thing about Jesus as a judge is that His judgments are always right and fair. He will not be fooled. While many today “go through the motions” of Christianity, the Lord knows what we do and why we do it. Though we may dupe our parents, our spouse, the pastor or other believers, we will not fool the Lord. By the way, His equity comes into play concerning our salvation and concerning our works. If you’ve never truly trusted Christ as Saviour, He knows that. In addition, He is well aware of your works, and will stand before us at the Judgment Seat to determine our eternal rewards. No work is too small to go unnoticed, all the way down to a cup of cold water given in His name.
Knowing that He alone is our judge, and that He will be fair in His judgment, should bring us great joy! A true realization of this should abolish the pressure to measure up to the standards and expectations of man. The Lord, He is our judge!
Because of these things, there should be joy in our hearts. In verses 4-8 we read of expressions of that joy including singing, playing of instruments and the making of joyful noises. The joy that is in our hearts shouldn’t stay there. It should manifest itself in our countenance. It should be exhibited in all that we do. It should be obvious to everyone that there is something positive that has transpired in our lives and we should be quick to let people know that His name is Jesus!
That little baby in the manger was the bringer of joy to the entire world. Jesus didn’t come to bring salvation, to offer mercy and to righteously judge a select few. He came for everyone! As you experience the holidays this year, do so with great joy. Others really do need to see it.