Dec 20, 2023
The sound of joy will fill the Servant’s city. The inhabitants of the new heaven and earth will rejoice forever with gladness.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create… (Isaiah 65:18 ESV)
Isaiah provided the reason for the city’s gladness, stating...
18 …for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. (Isaiah 65:18 ESV)
The people would rejoice in the LORD’s creation. And what would be His creation? The city full of joy. This may all seem a little complicated and circular in reasoning; such line of thinking may leave even the careful reader scratching their head and asking, “Huh?”
Thankfully the rest of Isaiah’s words help shine light on these few verses allowing us to state at least a few assertions.
First, the joy of the city depends on the LORD. He creates their joy. He works and labors and produces their happiness, delight, pleasure, and smiles. If the city that knew sorrow would give way to a city of joy, the LORD would be the cause of change.
Second, God finds joy in the joy of His people.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people… (Isaiah 65:19 ESV)
Men are like God in that they all “seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end… this is the motive of every action of every man” (Blaise Pascal. qt. in Desiring God, p. 19). God, too, seeks His happiness. God is a pleasure seeker.
Unlike man however, God’s joy does not send him down the paths of private pursuits which put Him at war with the joy of others. Instead, the LORD knows joy by bringing deep, lasting, infinite, ecstatic joy to others. Even in their sin, man knows something of this joy.
Consider the husband whose heart finds satisfaction in the happy satisfaction of his bride. Consider the parent who rejoices over the child’s delight as she opens up the gift from under the tree. Consider the child who learns the joy of using his own money to buy gifts for his siblings. Each of these instances, and a thousand like them, point us to the law of God’s creation,
35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 ESV)
God the LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth, infinite in power and wisdom and wealth, because of the love in Him, moves and acts and does great works so that the hearts of His people might swell with joy and burst with gladness. In this His heart rejoices. His thundering voice shouts in joyful satisfaction.
All of history flows to this end - a new heaven and earth in which God delights in His children who know delight in Him. By showing Israel the end, He helped them see and understand their present. The pain they knew in exile would not stand as their final unhappy ending. Instead, the exile would serve to produce their joy. God in love with undeterred commitment continued ,even in their suffering, to produce joy, their maximum, eternal joy. Israel could have great assurance for the God on whom they depend for joy finds joy in bringing delight to their souls.
God’s Servant, Jesus, Shares the Father’s Joy in Our Joy
In John 17, Jesus’ prayer provides for us a wide window through which we see into the heart of the Father, Son, and Spirit. As we look through the window, the eyes of our hearts should see three prominent realities.
First, God the Father and God the Son share a common commitment to their glory.
1 …“Father… glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:1-5 ESV)
God desired to glorify Himself so He sent Jesus. Jesus desired to glorify God so He willingly came and went to the cross.
Second, God the Father and God the Son shared a common desire for others to see their glory.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24 ESV)
The aim of glorifying themselves was so that others might see and know their glory. They sought to share that glory with men and women, those whom “they created for their glory” (Is 43:6-7).
Third, they sought to be known because they sought the joy of others.
13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13 ESV)
God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit all desire your joy. They seek your joy. They labor for your joy. Your joy was the joy set before Jesus as He endured the cross.
What a glorious truth that God seeks to be known in the world as one who fights and labors with all His might and resources for your infinite and eternal joy. In the present we get glimpses and a foretaste of that divine joy and one day in the New Heaven and Earth such joy and delight will be ours without interruption.
Trust the LORD’s Intention
In the beginning, the LORD delighted to prepare a garden for Adam and Eve and their descendents. There in that garden, God provided all they needed for perfect joy and delight and pleasure. His glory filled the garden, and with every juicy apple, soft blade of grass between their toes, and shared touch between husband and wife God communicated His goodness and sought their joy.
But, one day, a serpent - that is the Devil - slithered up next to the couple and put doubt in their hearts. He raised this question,
“Does God really want your joy and happiness? If he did, why would he restrict you? Why would He forbid you from eating of that one tree over there which looks so good to your eyes and will taste so good on your tongue? Surely God is motivated by something other than your full joy. Surely He is at odds with your pleasure and delight!”
The tactic found success in the heart of Eve and her husband. Out of distrust the two rebelled against the LORD, they reached out their hand to seek joy, delight, and pleasure in the place God forbid it. In their actions they declared, “God we do not trust you.”
Ever since, Adam and Eve’s descendents have shared the same skeptical posture toward their Creator. They come into this world blind to the LORD’s goodness. Upon hearing His law, their hearts rise up in rebellion saying,
“LORD we do not trust You. We will not keep your statutes. Instead, we will do what seems right in our own eyes. We will seek pleasure and joy in whatever our hearts desire.”
Do not be like your father Adam and your mother Eve. Trust the LORD. With His commands. He seeks your good. His law lights the path to your joy. Do not be fooled by the trickery of the world and the deceitful desires of your heart. The Lord finds joy in your joy. His labor is a labor of love which will one day end in your abundant and lasting joy. Trust Him today. Obey Him today.