Advent Reflections: Joy

This week the video the Bible Project shared on their socials was about Love, but this week’s reflections are based on their video about Joy. You can watch the video on Joy here.

This is one of my favourite Christmas hymns, it’s not the most upbeat but the lyrics get me every time! Most Christmas carols/hymns are about Jesus being born to Mary. But this hymn is about the joy that is to come. It is all about the fulfilment of what Christ came to do in the first place. Christmas is not only a time to look back at the grace accomplished in the past. It’s also a time to look forward to the grace that was accomplished for our future. When we sing these words we are proclaiming the ultimate joy that is to be revealed.

That doesn’t negate the negatives in the world, especially during these days that feel so tough; feeling let down by our government with mixed messages, worry about the pandemic getting worse leading to further restrictions and the general ups and downs life throws at each of us. The joy that is spoken of in the Bible is an attitude we adopt because of God’s hope and promise of His future destiny.

Similarly, Israel chose a path apart from God. As a result, they were exiled from their land and dominated by foreign nations, but the prophet Isaiah knew that sorrow and sadness would not have the final word. He looked forward to the day when Israel’s gracious God would provide a redeemer to deliver them from oppression and lead them to eternal joy.

“Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

Isaiah 49:13 NIV

Today’s reflection by the Bible Project asks us to read Isaiah 51:11 and 49:13 and then asks the following questions:

  1. What does Isaiah tell us about God’s character in these passages? 
  2. What does Isaiah say will happen for God’s redeemed people?

I’ll share my thoughts on these questions and it’d be great to hear your thoughts/comments/questions too.

What does Isaiah tell us about God’s character here? 

Isaiah 49:13 talks about how God treats His people, those who believe and have faith in Him. To them, He is comforting. In our hours of need He is here for us, to help make us feel better, to guide us out of any bad situation. But Isaiah 51:11 talks to those of us who have wronged, who have sinned, who didn’t believe. We all still have a place by Him, in Zion, for eternity. Regardless of who we are or what we’ve done, no matter where we are on our journey with Him, He will have compassion on us. He loves us, always.

What does Isaiah say will happen for God’s redeemed people?

Anyone who becomes a disciple, at any stage of their lives, He will rescue us and we will have a place, a home in Zion with a welcome committee of singing, joyful angels. We will have no more sadness or negativity, only pure happiness, all the rest of our days.

“Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Isaiah 51:11 NIV

I pray that despite any sadness or heaviness we might be feeling right now, on the lead up to Christmas, we are able to lift our heads to the Lord and trust in Him. For He will provide and He will give us all the hope we need, to look forward with joy in our hearts. Amen.

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