Summary: Isaiah 62:6-12 shows us that God's goal is for people all over the world to enter into his joy.
Today is Sunday, December 25. It is the day in which we particularly remember the birth of Jesus Christ. During Advent, I have preached a series of messages on the Old Testament Scripture Readings that I am calling, “Advent in Isaiah.”
Isaiah ministered to a people who had drifted away from God. The people had become faithless. They were filled with hypocrisy, greed, and idolatry, which were all offenses against God. Nevertheless, God called Isaiah to tell the people that he was sending a child to be born who would be the Savior of sinners. It is that child’s birth that we celebrate today.
Let’s read about Zion’s coming salvation in Isaiah 62:6-12:
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
take no rest,
7 and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
for which you have labored;
9 but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
“Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:6-12)
The essence of Christianity is joy. That message is summarized by the announcement of the angel at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:10, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
That is such a powerful statement! You know, it takes very little to satisfy a baby. A baby cries when he is hungry or uncomfortable. Feed or change him, and he is happy. As children get older, it takes a little more to make them happy. Teenagers need more yet to bring about their happiness, but they usually get by on music, phones, and friends. But what we eventually all learn is that happiness doesn’t last. And so many young people turn to alcohol or drugs to provide them with happiness. Others try to find happiness in relationships or work. But they also discover that these things don’t provide lasting happiness.
God offers “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” In our culture, that is huge. And when real people living real lives have real joy, that is real proof that God saves sinners. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the power of joy in the lives of God’s people. He writes:
As we face the modern world with all its trouble and turmoil and with all its difficulties and sadness, nothing is more important than that we who call ourselves Christian, and who claim the Name of Christ, should be representing our faith in such a way before others as to give them the impression that here is the solution, and here is the answer. In a world where everything has gone so sadly astray, we should be standing out as men and women apart, people characterized by a fundamental joy and certainty in spite of conditions, in spite of adversity.
Commentator Raymond Ortlund adds the following to Lloyd-Jones’ comment:
One of the marks of the early Christians was their joy in God as they lived in a hard world. According to one archaeologist, the apartment buildings of ancient Rome were so shoddily built that “the city was constantly filled with the noise of buildings collapsing or being torn down to prevent it; and the tenants of an [apartment] lived in constant expectation of its coming down on their heads.” That was the setting in which the Roman Christians raised their families. The classical world was not all gleaming marble and flowing white togas and sumptuous banquets. It was messy. The streets of Rome were deepest darkness after nightfall. There was no medical care as we know it, no inoculations for children, no retirement benefits, no air-conditioning, no refrigeration. But the early Christians, living in that world, stood out because God gave them a gift from beyond that world. Overflowing acceptance through the cross, God’s presence in their hearts, practical wisdom for daily life, and endless enjoyment of him in heaven – isn’t that enough to make people happy? They thought so.