As the author of over 750 songs, and commonly referred to as the “Father of Hymns,” Isaac Watts wrote “Joy To The World” NOT as a Christmas hymn, but rather on the theme of the 2nd Coming of Christ. You will note that the song has NO reference to shepherds, wise men, angels, babe in a manger, or any of the other elements of Christmas.
“Joy To The World” was written in 1719, and was based on Psalm 98, where the Scriptures declare, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the LORD; for He cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.” Particularly notice the twice mentioned phrase, “He cometh to judge the earth,” and “With righteousness shall He judge the world!”
My friends, at this Christmas season, we commemorate and celebrate the first coming of our Savior, as a babe in a manger. That humble and inauspicious birth commenced the earthly aspect of God’s unfolding drama of redemption. Of course, we know that from a heavenly perspective, Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world!
But, that aspect of Jesus’ coming, about which “Joy To The World” speaks, is His glorious second coming, at which time He will audaciously and justly recompense evil mankind for their defiance against Him and rejection of Him! At that coming, He will NOT come as the Lamb, but rather as the Lion! He will not come in peace, but in purposeful judgment! He will not come in softness, but in severity, as He rules with a rod of iron! Note the words of the final stanza of this “Christmas” classic.
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.
Oh, that sinful mankind would see that this Babe in a manger IS the soon coming King of kings! Oh, that they would bow before Him in repentance and faith, lest they kneel before Him as Judge! Oh, that they would willingly declare, “I accept you as Savior and Lord,” before they are MADE too lately to declare, “You are LORD,” doing so to their own judgment, but to the glory of God the Father!
My dear friends, as President of HOPE Ministries International and the North Carolina Pastors Network, I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years! And, my we decide NOW that we are going to live more purposefully, poignantly and powerfully in the coming year! My this season, and the coming year, find us faithfully and fervently declaring the message of God’s salvation, freely offered in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ! In so doing, we can lead those who don’t yet know, to the One Who is surely soon to appear! Then, and only then, can they sing with us, “Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come!”
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)
Co-host, Stand In The Gap Radio