December 10, 2017

And Again I Say, Rejoice!

I love catching glimpses of unifying threads between the Old and New Testaments. Like seeing pictures of Christ in the historical and prophetic books. Or realizing Israel’s significance in the Pauline epistles. Or seeing God’s overarching plan of redemption all the way from Genesis through Revelation. And lately, I’ve been noticing another common thread — the command to rejoice.

Rejoice

As New Testament Christians, we have so many reasons to rejoice! We know the more blessed side of the cross — Israel merely had a promise that the full atonement would someday take place, but we can look back and see how God brought it all together. We have the complete canon of Scripture. We have centuries of biblical research and libraries full of resources to instruct us in God’s ways and words, more information readily available to us than any other people in history could claim.

So when we read Paul’s commands to rejoice evermore and rejoice in the Lord always, they make sense. We can easily see so many reasons to find joy, and to give thanks no matter what. We have the Holy Spirit, the assurance of our adoption and guarantee of our future in glory. We know Christ has already died to save us… the only thing left is for Christ to return and claim His bride.

But what about the Old Testament? I don’t often picture the Israelites and the prophets as being exceedingly joyful. So much of the Old Testament is filled with rebellion, destruction, and judgment. The historical and prophetic books are heavy with the stark contrast between man’s inherent wickedness and God’s perfect holiness.

But rejoicing isn’t just a New Testament concept.
It spans from the very beginning of creation to our eternity in heaven. {<– tweet that!}

Adam and Eve rejoiced in God’s presence. Job rejoiced in God’s wisdom. Noah rejoiced in God’s salvation. Abraham rejoiced in God’s faithfulness. Esther rejoiced in God’s providence. Even the prophets rejoiced in God’s promises.

And in the middle of the heavy Old Testament wilderness of rebellion and judgment, we find the beautiful garden of Psalms, blossoming with hope and fragrancing the air with sweet comfort. Over and over again, David writes of giving thanks or praising God for His deliverance and salvation — even though he lived hundreds of years before Calvary! He sings of God’s blessings and exhorts all nations to praise Him. That sounds like rejoicing to you, doesn’t it?

Just like Paul’s epistles, the book of Psalms offers repeated commands to rejoice and give thanks and offer praise to our great Creator. For instance, just in the last week I found all these commands that relate to joy or thanksgiving or praise (from Psalm 100-107):

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits!

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. 

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! 

As God’s children, whether Jewish by birth or grafted into the chosen nation of Israel, we are to be filled with praise! We are to rejoice in Him and in His salvation. Our lives should overflow with gratitude for His goodness, mercy, love, and grace.

What other verses come to mind about rejoicing and praising God?

Find more reasons to rejoice by spending time in God’s Word!
Read it with me this week:

Tuesday: 2 Chronicles 31-33, Psalm 109
Wednesday: 2 Chronicles 34-36, Psalm 110
Thursday: Obadiah 1, Psalm 111
Friday: 2 Corinthians 1-3, Psalm 112
Saturday: 2 Corinthians 4-6, Psalm 113
Sunday: 2 Corinthians 7-9, Psalm 114
Monday: reflection or catch-up

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