A hymn about the Second Coming
We sing Christmas carols to celebrate the birth of Jesus. At Easter we sing songs about his resurrection. Some time in the future Jesus will return to Earth as ruler and usher in a thousand years of peace and prosperity. Isn’t that worth singing about too? But it seems that there are very few songs about this subject.
Actually there is a very famous song that celebrates Christ’s return. It is called Joy to the World. But isn’t Joy to the World a Christmas carol? It is usually sung during the Christmas season. Perhaps we should examine it a little more closely.
It was written by Isaac Watts and is based of Psalm 98.
Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
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
before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.
The psalm is a description of what will happen when God judges the earth. When Jesus was born he didn’t come as a judge but as a savior. That is the meaning of his name.
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
Jesus came to die for our sins so we could be forgiven. After he rose and returned to Heaven he sent the Holy Spirit to give his followers the power they needed to preach the message of forgiveness to the whole world.
The present age of preaching the gospel won’t last forever. Christ will return to judge the earth and establish his kingdom here. If you examine the words of Joy to the World you will find that it describes what will happen then, not what happened when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Joy to the world! The Lord has come:
let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room
and heaven and nature sing.
When Jesus was born wise men from the East came looking for him because they knew he was king of the Jews but Herod tried to have him killed. Jesus is in fact King but the world doesn’t yet acknowledge that fact.
Joy to the world! the Savior reigns:
let men their songs employ
while fields and floods rocks hills and plains
repeat the sounding joy.
Today Jesus reigns only over those who have turned to him for salvation. The rest of the world rejects him.
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.
Since sin entered the world the whole world has been under a curse. The existence of thorns and harmful plants is a symptom of that curse. This didn’t change when Jesus was born but it will when he returns.
He rules the earth with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love.
Those who put their faith in Christ experience truth and grace on a personal level but in the world as a whole they are extremely rare.
Christmas carols are sung at Christmas. Songs about the resurrection are sung at Easter. So when is the appropriate time to sing Joy to the World? Since God hasn’t revealed when Christ will return it is an appropriate song for any time of the year, to remind us that our present age will not last forever.