The countdown has begun! Less than one week until Christmas, three days until family arrives, and two more days until the last of my online shopping orders arrive! The pace is picking up and the lists of “to dos” is getting longer while the bank account is getting smaller. The radio stations are blasting all kinds of Christmas music, from “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to “O Holy Night.” It’s the one time of the year we actually hear Christmas hymns on the radio. One of the best loved hymns is “Joy to the World.”

“Joy to the World” was originally part of a book of poems written in by the great English hymn writer, Isaac Watts in 1719.  Based on the 98th Psalm, the poem was never intended to be a Christmas song…or any kind of song, for that matter. The text was originally titled “The Messiah’s Coming and His Kingdom” when it first appeared in Watts’ hymnal of 1719. Watts never knew that he had just written one of his most famous hymns, (from the book by Kenneth Osbeck, “Amazing Grace Hymns Stories”).

Take a look at these great words: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.” “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings 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.”

At the beginning of creation, God set Adam and Eve in the garden and gave them free reign with one exception. They were not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. They ate, and there were consequences, including thorns. “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…” (Genesis 3:17-18).

I had never paid much attention to those words of before but in a class I took in Bible college, my Old Testament teacher began talking about this passage and referred to the words to this hymn. The ground was cursed by man’s disobedience. The good news is, Jesus came to undo the curse. He was cursed for us. “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the Cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree,” (Galatians 3:13). “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found!” The joy is coming!

Today we live in a world dominated by sin and its consequences: pain, sorrow, disease and death. But when He returns and claims His full victory, He “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Revelation 21:4). Even the earth and its flora will rejoice!

While Christmas is a great time of joy (not to mention, hope, peace, and love), we have a far greater joy to look forward to. When He comes again all the consequences of man’s rebellion will be removed, “and there shall be no more curse,” (Revelation 22:3). Only then will there be “Joy to the World.”

Jean Newman is worship leader at the First Presbyterian Churches in Exeter and in Lindsay. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church and Lemon Cove Community Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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