Following on from yesterdays thoughts about ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring ‘Good News’. I thought today really must be about ‘Joy’. Good news always brings joy!! In Isaiah’s day of course all news came on foot, a runner would be sent to tell of a hard won military victory, of an impending invasion, or of a new King on the throne. It was even the case that a bringer of bad news might himself be punished, but here the bible speaks of the welcome that a bearer of good news would receive.
We don’t have ‘runners’ these days but good news, however it arrives still brings great joy. We have probably all seen the footage of the V.E. day celebrations in London after the war. Great and uncontainable joy at the end of five terrible years of fighting, tragic loss of life, shortages, displacement and so much more. In our own time I’m sure we have all felt great joy at the announcement of a new baby, of a wedding, or even simply the news that our favourite football team won. Joy always accompanies ‘good news’!
The passage quoted above from Isaiah 52:7-9 in The Passion Translation reads like this….
‘What a beautiful sight to behold – the precious feet of the messenger coming over the mountains to announce good news!…….announcing salvation to Zion and saying “Your Mighty God Reigns”. Listen! The watchmen are shouting in triumph! Lifting their voices together they are singing for joy!……. Burst into joyous songs, you rubble of Jerusalem! For Yahweh has graciously comforted His people.’
So as I am walking this morning and thinking around ‘joy’, I am captivated by the sight of a magnificent oak tree in the full glory of its autumn colours, beautifully lit up by the sun – absolutely stunning. And I’m thinking, No, not joy! Today’s blog has to be about trees!! And then I remembered that Isaiah went on to prophesy that when the end of the exile came for Israel, when the good news that had been brought to them came about in real time, they ‘would go out with joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst forth into song….and the trees of the field would clap their hands.’ Isaiah 55:12.
Joy has to have an expression, a sound, perhaps a song, a laugh or a shout, or a movement like a dance, a jump or the wave of a flag. It is almost as if it is in the physical expression of the joy, that it is fully released, and fully felt. Keeping quiet is not an option. Jesus knew that. When He came on a donkey into Jerusalem accompanied by a cheering crowd, the Pharisees wanted Jesus to rebuke the people because they were celebrating the arrival of the ‘one who comes in the name of the Lord’. They were ‘joyfully praising God’ and waving palm branches. Jesus reply was simple ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ Luke 19:37-40.
So what of us? I think sometimes we can get too familiar with the truths of the gospel, we can almost take it all for granted – God’s unconditional love, His forgiveness, His faithfulness, the ‘New Life’, that He has given us. We are just so richly blessed in so many, many ways, and then on top of everything else, we have His indwelling presence. He is always good and He is always with us. Now that is very, very good news, and this is the news that we have to share with others.
When I receive a piece of good news, like hearing that a grandchild has been safely born, or long (long) ago heard that I had passed my exams, or more recently heard that this home that we were buying was finally ours, we just have to hug someone and say ‘thank you’. And so now I am feeling that when I read a piece of good news in the bible, when I am reminded of the incredible wonder of my salvation, when someone or something reminds me of what is now mine ‘in Christ’, then I need to get a bit excited and speak or sing out my gratitude.
We used to sing a strange chorus. It went ‘If you want joy you must sing for it….shout for it….jump for it… dance for it etc…… the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ I was never quite convinced!! But now I am beginning to think that I understand it a bit more. Give voice to your gratitude and see where it leads next. Find a truth or a promise in the bible and let rip with your gratitude. Then let your thanksgiving be the entrée to a feast of joy and wonder!!