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The Joy of the LORD

December 28, 2023

Psalm 148:1-6 is another Psalm that is all about praising God. The Psalm begins and ends with a call to “praise the LORD,” and the word “praise” appears at least thirteen times in fourteen verses. As God reveals truth through His Word, God is telling us that reality (another word for truth), incorporates praise to our Lord inherently. In other words, truth does not exist outside of praise to God. Verses 1-6 in this Psalm call for heavenly praise; verses 7-10 summon earthly praise; and the last four verses appeal to personal (i.e., human) praise of God. In this section, we see the command for “angelic praise; for the sun, moon, stars, and the highest heavens to praise God; and for the waters above the skies” to praise Him (verses 1-4). By God’s verbal decree, all creation came into being “for ever and ever – never to pass away” (verse 6). The universe praises God by its very existence. We also exist by His decree; how much more ought we to employ our free choice to praise Him? When we freely choose to praise, honor, and glorify God, we are truly doing what He created us to do.

In Revelation 18:17 – 19:10, we are reminded again that Babylon’s fall occurs in one hour. Sea captains everywhere will lament this fall, for ship-owners “became rich through her wealth” (verses 17-19). We see that God uses “a mighty angel” to illustrate Babylon’s downfall by throwing down a millstone. Five times, the angel announces that “never again” will such an evil empire be allowed to exist (cf., verses 21-24). The angel cites several ordinary occupations that prevailed there – musicians, tradesmen, and merchants (i.e., so-called, the world’s “great men,” cf., verse 23). These people used “magic spells to lead the nations astray.” God states that no light will ever shine there again nor will any bride or bridegroom’s voice be heard there ever again. As we have said, God’s destruction of Babylon will be sudden, thorough, and all-inclusive. In chapter 19, we read of the “roar of a great multitude in heaven, and they shout, “Hallelujah!” This scene is a classic illustration of Psalm 148:1-6 – praise of God from the heavens. In this section, “hallelujah” is repeated four times with the proclamation that “the Lord God Almighty reigns” and that “the wedding of the Lamb has come” (verses 4-7). These energetic and glorious activities were so overpowering that the Apostle John mistakenly fell down to worship the angel, who corrected him: “Worship God!” he said. “I am a fellow servant” (verse 10). We need to remember that when we worship and praise our God, we are engaging in truth (cf., 19:9).

In Nehemiah 7:4 - 8:18, we find that Nehemiah has completed the wall of Jerusalem, set the doors in place, and appointed the gatekeepers. Now he calls for an assembly to register the exiles by families. Chapter 7 contains a list of those who returned from captivity. In chapter 8, we read of another assembly for people to hear Ezra’s reading of the Law of Moses. He read the book from daybreak until noon and instructed the people (verse 3). Some of the people “were weeping” as they heard the law, but Nehemiah encouraged them not to weep, for this was to be “a sacred day. The joy of the LORD is your strength” (verses 9-10). Away from their land during the exile, the Israelites had forgotten many of the laws of Moses, and here, they learn again about the “feast of booths.” When they heard this news, the people went out to collect branches for the first time “since the days of Joshua” (verse 7). They discovered “very great joy” in learning to keep the law. This passage reveals to us the importance of serving God His way, rather than our own. Following the Lord blesses us with true joy, and that is His truth and our strength.

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