DECEMBER 1, 2006
With any review of the world or national equation, this question is not only valid but tends to lurk in the back of most peoples' minds-Christian as well as secular. Any review of the current geo-political scene generally will stymie true worship and tend to permeate all seasons of the year with an invasive sense of despair.
Having recently completed reading Patrick J. Buchanan's, State of Emergency (one of the most concise reviews of the U.S. condition today), it is easy to comprehend why such a question could be the valid observation of intelligent beings.
Perhaps the cultural embrace of immanent judgment lies at the base of this malaise, but something is false and seriously wrong, not only in government but in the church as well. Start by asking, "Where are the testimonies of congregants that elicited joyous shouting and jubilant rejoicing?" The answer is apparent, for absent is the communion of harmonious saints linked in unity of praise and rejoicing for the gifts of life and love poured upon them from the heavenlies. Something is missing in any fellowship where a praise team does all the praising and a pop singer finishes with dubious clapping that soon fades into "reverential silence." Biblical rejoicing has been eclipsed by a strained response. God knows the difference between genuine rejoicing and faked exuberance.
In other words, it is time to "enter His courts with genuine Praise." It is time to build a personal altar if the church won't. It is time to get serious about a subject which God absolutely commands to be a part of His people. We are to rejoice!
When the prodigal finally comprehended that the fatted calf and the robe and ring belonged to him, it would be difficult to imagine him joining his sulking brother! After a victory in battle, conquering Israelites didn't demonstrate by shuffling their feet and displaying quirky signs; nay, they expressed jubilant "hilarion." David's dance proceeded from a grateful heart and wouldn't have won him a dance show prize. When the woman's daughter was raised from the dead, she didn't write a check and give it to the servants to deliver to Jesus. What God is talking about is significantly different from that which is the norm of the day.
The Necessity to Rejoice:
The answer to the title question may be simple, for its validity is found in Scripture. Precisely put, it is the answer to all national dilemmas.
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. Deut. 28:47-49Feigned praise and programmed services, "Ain't going to cut it (to use colloquial parlance)." The Biblical imperative calls for genuine hearts filled with genuine praise.
True rejoicing is one of the great distinguishing marks of the true believer.
Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed; Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit. You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord GOD will slay you, And call His servants by another name. Isa. 65:13-15Fellowship is built around rejoicing, and God intended from the very beginning that Jew and Gentile rejoice before Him!
Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;Combined praise is even found in David's Psalms, for they were not restricted to his people but related to every believer throughout history.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;It's not enough to display a Duplantis type comic relief; it's not enough to shout a unisoned response to a T.D. Jake's confession. The source of Godly rejoicing comes from a place deeper than that!
Welling up like a volcanic core, which erupts in the steam from a tear stained smile, is what I'm talking about. A "Hallelujah" from a Holy one sounds different than a shout from a cheer-led prompter!
The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous. Ps. 118:15Again the Scripture says:
Glory in His holy name;(There really is a distinction between senseless shouting and seeking His face.)
In the Old Testament account of the prayer of Hannah, for instance, one must note the manner in which she sought the face of God.
And Hannah prayed and said:(Hers was a theology that gets an answer every time. What would happen if today's women's meeting were comprised of a gathering of Hannahs?)
The children of God have always been taught to be a rejoicing family.
A. God's people are told to rejoice during Tabernacles (there recently have been multiplied thousands observing Tabernacles and there wasn't much rejoicing).Jesus and Rejoicing:a. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Lev. 23:39-43B. God's people are told to rejoice over the Tithe:
The very first word from the mouth of Jesus after His resurrection was, "Rejoice," for this was His nature and His desire for His followers.
(The angel announced :) 'He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.' So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.When prophets spoke about Jesus, they unhesitatingly used the word, "Rejoice."
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you. Zech. 9:9Paralleling his resurrection word, "Rejoice" was the word most used in connection with His birth.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For He will be great in the sight of the Lord. Lk. 1:14-15When the Angel of the Lord addressed Mary, she reacted as many do today. Instead of rejoicing, she was troubled.
And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was troubled. Lk. 1:28-29Jesus often found Himself surrounded with rejoicing, not just from those who were healed or delivered, but from those who recognized His Messiahship.
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen. Lk. 19:35-38What Jesus taught and His disciples learned about rejoicing:
Jesus taught His Disciples the efficacy of rejoicing. He knew the power found in such an act of worship. He told them to rejoice not over demons obeying them, but over their names being written in heaven.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Lk. 10:19-20Simon acknowledged his training when he wrote:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice. 1 Peter. 1:3-6Jesus taught His disciples to rejoice because of His position with the Father (ministering in their behalf).
You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, "I am going to the Father," for My Father is greater than I.' Jn. 14:28-29Jesus taught His disciples to rejoice when persecution came.
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Lk. 6:22-23Paul took up the same cause when he wrote:
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church. Col. 1:24-27Peter admonished those under persecution to rejoice, as well.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Peter. 4:12-14Even the book of Acts showed the disciples putting into action the truths Jesus taught.
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:41-42During Jesus' ministry, He told the disciples there were many things to rejoice about. They were to rejoice when one soul was rescued. (He spoke about rejoicing over one lost sheep or a recovered coin.)
'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Lk. 15:5-7The Messiah knew the importance of caring for the lost.
Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him. Ps. 126:5-6(I have never witnessed a service where people gathered, along with the souls they had witnessed to and caused to be converted to Jesus, that there was not great rejoicing. Could this be the reason for little rejoicing today? Few today have been in the old meetings where a soul was saved and for which saints had long labored and prayed-let alone watched their joy and rejoicing. How dare one call today's travesty--church?)
The book of Acts focused on the work of the Spirit in the lives of those given over to Him, but few today capture the joy that accompanies the Spirit.
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52Yes, all the epistles fairly bristle with the notion of rejoicing in all things, for rejoicing is a bond in fellowship.
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 1 Cor. 12:25-27Observe Paul's treatise on those who preach Christ out of a different motive than his.
'What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.' Phil. 1:17-18Rejoicing for the wrong reason:
There is, however, a danger in rejoicing with the wrong crowd, for one enjoins the judgment of their error. Jeremiah did not enter into such judgment befalling Israel and Judah (Read all of Jeremiah 15). Listen to his rule:
I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice;(Many times, the saint must sit alone-regardless of the barbs cast at his/her separation. Some acts of rejoicing one cannot enter into and that includes some popular congregations, fellowships and groups.)
On a national basis, God often caused whole societies to rejoice as they imbibed the wine of His wrath. Observe Iraq (ancient Babylon), and the curse they invited upon themselves because they took advantage of the children of God.
'In their excitement I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, That they may rejoice, And sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,' says the LORD. Jer. 51:37-40(The last days hold a grail before believers as well; it is not the drink of fools or the merriment of those who possess nothing. It is not a Lord's Supper, but is new wine and its invitation comes from old.)
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,Deep in the passage of the most quoted scripture of this holiday season is a message for all who name His Name. Surrounding the passage in Isaiah 9, "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder…" there is an ominous message. The ominous passages are in Isaiah 8 and later in 9 where God virtually said, "I will give you a picture of what you rejoice about and then what I rejoice about." These are the passages about Rezin and the son of Remaliah. National Israel was more concerned over covenant with Damascus, and the surrounding area, than about the coming Messiah. (It would seem the tides of history have returned. Think of it. While they were making boasts and reveling in their abilities, God turned the spot light of heaven on an anointed Child. Is this not the forte of today?) Israel missed the Son by being blinded in their self rejoicing.
These people refused the waters of Shiloah that flow softly, and rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah's son. Isa. 8:6
The LORD sent a word against Jacob,The message is clear, "Watch what you rejoice about during this season and the year ahead."
Until Next Month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD
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