When the angels appeared before the shepherds in Bethlehem, they came bringing a message of “good news” rather than tips for improving our life or the world around us.
On this program, the hosts will discuss the nature of the Christian gospel and its roots in the Old Testament promises of a coming redemption. They’ll also discuss the relationship between good news and the “great joy” that we experience in response as they conclude their series on The Meaning of Christmas on this edition of the White Horse Inn.
“We’re taking a look at the theme of joy at Christmas, ‘Joy to the World,’ that famous hymn that we sing at this time of the year written in 1719 by Isaac Watts that is based on Psalm 98. Here is the famous hymn that you know so well. ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let Earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room and Heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world, the savior reigns. Let men, their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy. No more, let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.’
“One of the things right out of the gate with this song that really strikes me is how it focuses so much on not just joy to me and my personal experience, but joy to the world and ‘Let Earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room and Heaven and nature sing.’ And then turning to the nature, fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeating the sounding joy. ‘No more, let sins and sorrows grow,’ not just within my heart, but he comes to make his blessings flow ‘far as the curse is found.’ Just the breadth here of understanding… The curse is not just me and my own personal situation, but that the whole Earth is under a curse and Jesus Christ comes to bring joy to the whole Earth and even the rocks and the hills and the rivers are crying out with joy!”
Term to Learn
“Of the Incarnation of the Son of God”
We confess, therefore, that God has fulfilled the promise which He made to the fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets, when He sent into the world, at the time appointed by Him, His own only-begotten and eternal Son, who took upon Him the form of a servant and became like unto man, really assuming the true human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit without the means of man; and did not only assume human nature as to the body, but also a true human soul, that He might be a real man. For since the soul was lost as well as the body, it was necessary that He should take both upon Him, to save both. Therefore we confess (in opposition to the heresy of the Anabaptists, who deny that Christ assumed human flesh of His mother) that Christ partook of the flesh and blood of the children; that He is a fruit of the loins of David after the flesh; born of the seed of David according to the flesh; a fruit of the womb of Mary; born of a woman; a branch of David; a shoot of the root of Jesse; sprung from the tribe of Judah; descended from the Jews according to the flesh; of the seed of Abraham; since he took on him the seed of Abraham, and was made like unto his brethren in all things, sin excepted; so that in truth He is our Immanuel, that is to say, God with us.
(The Belgic Confession, Article 18)