Summary: The third Sunday in Advent focuses our attention on the Joy that Jesus brings us. The Biblical subject of joy is examined in both the OT and NT and how we can have it today as a free gift from God.
The Gifts of Jesus—Joy
First Preached at Broad Run Baptist Church 12/15/2002
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 2It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God. 3Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. 4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. 7And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. 8And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. 9No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: 10And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
In our passage today, we read the wilderness and solitary place will be glad and the desert will rejoice and come out in full bloom in verse one. Verse two tells us why the party is coming, “They shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.”
God issues these words through the prophet Isaiah even while the northern nation of Israel is being ravaged by the armies of Assyria. The southern kingdom Judah will also feel the sting of battle from her armies. The Lord had raised up the Assyrians in chapters 1-35 to punish His unfaithful followers. Chapters 40-66 predicts how God in the future, will use the nation of Babylon to chastise the nation of Judah because of its continued rebellion against Him. In the midst of these chapters filled with doom and gloom however, God gives His people a reason to rejoice. Although His punishment is coming, so too is coming a time of rejoicing.
The third week in Advent emphasizes the theme of joy. Israel was given reason to hope and rejoice in her times of affliction because God would not simply abandon her even though that is what she deserved because of her continued unfaithfulness to Him. This period of chastisement would end eventually and God would be there to help her pick up the pieces and eventually would bless her again when she turned back to Him.
I want to speak to you again this week about the gifts of Jesus. In particular, I want to speak to you about the joy He offers. As we examine this gift, I want to address how the Bible uses the word joy, what joy is, where it comes from, and who can have it.
I. How the Word ‘Joy” is Used in the Bible
The word joy is found 155 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The word rejoice is found is mentioned 183 times. Clearly the Bible teaches us that we are to be a people characterized by joy. This emotion that dwells within our souls is not merely to reside there because the joy we feel is to be manifested outwardly for others to see.
The most commonly Hebrew words used for joy in the Old Testament are the words simha and samah . One who experiences this joy inwardly is expected to show it outwardly by being gleeful as well as to be merry in spirit.
Joy in the Old Testament centered around three ideas according to H. Van Broekhoven Jr. in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1981) Vol. 2 pgs 1140-1142.
First, there was Personal Joy.
This joy spoke of the inner emotion of a person who was in the state of well-being, and the person’s outward expression of that inner joy (rejoicing). In fact, the O.T. speaks of rejoicing more than it does the emotions of joy.
The sound of joy was often heard in shouting and cheering. It was not a silent or subtle thing as the word signifies to raise a shout or give a blast. It was like what you would hear at a football stadium when your team scores the winning touchdown on a Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds of a football game!