Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
This might surprise you, but “Joy to the World” is not a song originally written about Jesus’ first coming and was not even meant to be a Christmas Carol. Instead, it is about His second coming. This popular hymn was not based on the Christmas stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Rather, it was written based on Psalm 98. In 1719, Isaac Watts sat down to pen a poetic paraphrase of one of his favorite psalms, Psalm 98. He broke the psalm into two parts and summarized verses 4-9 under the name, “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom.”
The phrase “The Lord IS Come is intentional. Some have changed it to “The Lord HAS come, but that is incorrect. The phrase the Lord is come uses an archaic form of English that was very common back in 1719 when “Joy to the World” was written. A number of references say that this construction uses the word come as an unaccusative intransitive verb (we don’t need to remember that because it’s a form that’s now nearly extinct in the English language.
To say “the Lord is come” puts the emphasis on the state of having come and now being here, as opposed to saying, “the Lord has come,” which simply puts the emphasis on the action of having come in the past. The Lord didn’t just come, he is STILL here! But there’s more..
To say that “The Lord is come,” is not only to emphasize that he came and is still here, but it also demonstrates that the subject– the Lord– did not actively initiate the coming! And what did Jesus tell us time and time again? “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.“ (John 6:57)
So, to summarize,
- To say, “The Lord has come,” is past tense (indicating a completed action) AND implies that the Lord is the one who initiated the coming.
- But to say, “The Lord is come,” puts the emphasis on the fact that he not only came in the past but is now here, AND implies that the Lord is not the one who initiated this coming, but that He was sent by the Father.
Psalm 98: Sing a new song to the Lord,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
2 The Lord has made His salvation known;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered His graciousness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
The Hebrew word for “new” in these verses is “chadash”, meaning new, new thing, fresh.
Revelation 14:3: And they *sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to learn the song except the 144,000 who had been purchased from the earth
The word for “new” in verse Revelation 14:3 is kainos (G2537), meaning something brand new, unprecedented, of a new kind….better.
We sing New songs of praise for new rescues and fresh manifestations of grace. As long as God is gracious toward us, as long as he keeps showing us his power, and wowing us with his works, we sing not just only old songs inspired by his past grace (Song of Moses – Rev. 15:3), but also new songs about his ever-streaming, never-ceasing grace (Song of 144,000 – Revelation 14:3).
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy!
Repeat . . . repeat . . . the sounding joy!
Psalm 98: 4: Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Be cheerful and sing for joy and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
With the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.
May the sea roar and all it contains,
The world and those who dwell in it.
8 May the rivers clap their hands,
May the mountains sing together for joy
Why should we sing new a new song to the Lord? Because God has made His Salvation (Yeshua/Jesus) known to all the ends of the earth. God has the VICTORY. Salvation is God’s VICTORY over the devil’s schemes to entrap and snare mankind. According to the Psalmist, all nations have seen the salvation of God, they have SEEN the Cross of Christ. They have seen God’s faithfulness to His Covenant with Israel, and they should REJOICE because the KING is COMING…AGAIN!!! ALL NATIONS will SOON see the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth!
Romans 8:19-21, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Psalm 98 speaks of the future judgment (vv. 7-9) that comes at the end of the age, that will facilitate the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ and His Millennial Kingdom on earth. WHY WOULD WE REJOICE AT GOD’S COMING JUDGMENT? Because it is necessary for God to burn off all the dross so that what is beautiful can surface. The kingdom of Christ will be a blessing to the whole creation. Jesus’ second coming will begin his glorious reign as KING on EARTH. Then shall heaven and earth rejoice, and the JOY OF THE REDEEMED SHALL BE FULL. At the second coming of Christ, sin and its dreadful effects will be done away, as the Lord will judge the world in righteousness.
Psalm 98: May the rivers clap their hands,
May the mountains sing together for joy
9 Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth;
He will judge the world with righteousness
The liberation of all creation at the arrival of the conquering King Jesus led Watts to the closing chapters of Revelation for his song “Joy to the World”. Revelation 21 celebrates Jesus’ triumphant return as the One who has come to judge the earth with righteousness proclaiming, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
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. (Stanza 3)
Man’s sin not only affects all humanity, it also affects the natural world, the animals, plants, and seas. The “curse” in Stanza 3 is a reference to Genesis 3:17 when God said to Adam, following the eating of the apple from the tree, “Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”. When Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords at His 2nd coming, the seas, the mountains, ALL of CREATION will REJOICE! This stanza is sometimes left out of modern versions of “Joy to the World”, yet it was part of the original song penned by Isaac Watts.
We are called to watch the signs of the times. Many Christians say “You’re not supposed to watch for Jesus’ 2nd coming, right?”. Wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Himself gave us numerous signs to look for in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. In the days of Jesus’ first coming, WISE MEN recognized the signs in the sky, matching them with the Old Testament prophecies, and were able to get a glimpse of the Christ child. Today, WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM, watching the SIGNS of the TIMES.
1 Thessalonians 5: Now as to the periods and times, brothers and sisters, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord is coming just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then, let’s not sleep as others do, but let’s be alert and sober.
We need to be alert, sober, watching for the signs of Jesus’ 2nd coming as a Night Watchman.
Matthew 24: 3 And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ (Messiah),’ and they will mislead many people. 6 And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains.
As we see the birthpangs growing closer and closer together, we need to LIFT up our heads and REJOICE because our REDEMPTION draws nigh!
Luke 21:28But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Rev. 21: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
This year, 2020, has been a very difficult year, one of loss, of lonliness, of fear. It’s been an unprecedented year in man’s history. Unprecedented fires, floods, storms, and plagues. Christian persecution is exploding in places like Nigeria and China. We are even seeing signs of increasing Christian persecution in Western nations, particularly those who have sold out to China, like the United States, Europe, and Canada. There seems to be no justice on the earth as the world celebrates evil while that which is good is maligned. Clearly, we are seeing the signs of the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. But even as we feel like crawling into our caves and hiding from God’s righteous judgment on this sin-sick earth, the Psalmist reminds us to REJOICE, and Jesus tells us to LIFT UP our HEADS because our REDEMPTION draws NIGH!
REJOICE!! God’s kingdom on earth is going to be a KINGDOM OF LIFE! GLORIOUS, PEACEFUL, JOYFUL BEYOND MEASURE! We will not be ISOLATED, wearing masks, social distancing, or worrying about sickness in the Kingdom of GOD! HALLELUJAH!!!
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎁