Sing of the Returning King
Exactly 300 years ago, Issac Watts penned the beloved lyrics of, “Joy To The World.” Meditating deeply on the words of Psalm 98, Watts’ true goal was not for a Christmas Carol. Few of us fail to see this however, even though none of the words of the hymn sing of a manger, a miraculous star, angelic hosts or the magi’s journey.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
Rather than sing of a slumbering nation that missed her King’s arrival, the song sings of “Earth receiving Her King”. Rather than speak of closed hearts and inns too full to make room for a pregnant Mary, the song sings of hearts prepared and waiting. Rather than speak of a weary world still cursed by the effects of sin, the song sings of a day when the curse has been uprooted, and every tear wiped dry.
The hymn, takes us on a breath-taking journey from God’s promise in Genesis to Jesus’ second arrival in Revelation. Unlike any Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World” boldly speaks of the reality of God’s judgement and wrath upon man, pronounced in the curse at Eden. But this brings a deeper meaning to Christmas when we realize the baby was the promised snake-crusher. The promised One who would bring the redeemed to an Eden better than the first one.
This Christmas will come and go, but Christmas is not just about a flashback to a baby swaddled in meekness and humility, but also a flashforward to a triumphant King clothed in glory and holiness. With every season’s closure, the countdown to Jesus’ return continues to tick. Jesus’ final words in the bible “Surely, I am coming soon,” are both an assurance and a warning. Indeed we wait for a day when all the earth will receive her King and His rule will be fully established in truth and grace. Joy to the world, is a promise to the redeemed and hope for all who wait faithfully for Jesus’ next arrival.