+ Third Sunday in Advent +
13 December 2009
The LORD rejoices over His people
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17
Listen to Jesus who talked about His joy being imparted to His disciples. He said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11)
"And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." (John 17:13)
Now, if Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30), when Jesus says "my joy", He could well mean "my Father's joy". There's another analogy given in a verse likening God's joy to that of a groom rejoicing because of his bride (Isaiah 62:5 - "as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee"). Certainly if a proud father rejoices because of his righteous and wise son (Proverbs 23:24), certainly God, our heavenly Father, also rejoices when His children are righteous and wise.
But the most direct statement we have concerning the Joy of God is found in Zephaniah 3:17.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Because God lives among us and rejoices over us, He invites us to be always ready for His coming by sharing his death - defeating joy with a weary, defeated world.
1. God is living among you as a mighty Savior
a. Who is living among us? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
b. Prayer of humble access: We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
2. God takes delight in you with gladness
a. There is a wonderful collection of messages about God's joy in Luke 15.
-- There is joy over the one found lamb.
When the shepherd, leaving the 99 safe sheep, finds the one that was lost, Jesus compares the joy of the shepherd to that experienced in heaven. "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7)
Of course we know Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but God in the Old Testament is also known as "shepherd" (Psalm 80:1).
-- There is joy over the found coin.
After telling the story of the woman who finally found her dowry coin, Jesus says, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." ( Luke 15:10) Most people think that it is the angels who are doing the rejoicing. But it doesn't say that. The rejoicing is "in the presence of the angels". So who's celebrating? Could it be God?
Whenever there is repentance and conversion, there is joy in heaven. Surely the Father would be involved in this celebration.
-- There is joy over the returned son.
This is the final story in this trilogy about joy. Notice, it is the father in the story who throws the party, and then tries to talk the elder brother into joining it. "Let's have a feast and celebrate."
( Luke 15:23) Is there any doubt that this shows God the Father rejoicing?
So we see that there are several analogies that indicate that God is rejoicing:
The shepherd rejoices because of his found lamb; The home maker rejoices because of her found coin; The father rejoices because of because of his returned son.
b. Our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. Definition: The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.
3. God calms your fears with His love and rejoices over you with joyful songs.
a. Let God calm your fears with His love as a parent comforts his/her child – kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.
b. What a witness – joy in the midst of suffering, dying.
Remissio peccatorum soll dich froelich machen!