|Volume 18 Number 7 July 2016||
Life’s Greatest Joy!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
There are many joys in life. Having a home filled with love is certainly a real joy. Falling in love, getting married and having children are reasons for joy as well. Succeeding at a worthwhile endeavor, graduating from school and getting a good job are all joyful things. However, with the above items, joy can be easily lost as well. There is a joy that surpasses all others. That joy is finding God and walking each day with Him. There was a time long ago when God’s people had drifted away from Him. Isaiah was called by God to preach and prophesy in hope of restoring the wayward.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:6-12)
Israel, which once had godly joy, now lost it due to sinfulness. Isaiah gave a three-step plan to restore joy in Israel.
Firstly, he gave an exhortation. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Life is filled with seekers; however, few seek God. Some seek after material things (Matthew 6:32). Others seek after worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:20-22), while still others seek to please men (Galatians 1:10). There is a void within every person who seeks everything but fails to seek God. Only seeking and finding God can fill one’s inner desire!
Secondly, he gave an explanation. We must go to the right source! Seek the place where God’s thoughts can be found – His Word (Isaiah 55:8-10). Man’s thoughts and ways get him into trouble (Isaiah 55:7). Man’s way is the “way of the wicked.” The way of ignorance (Ephesians 4:17), the way of ingratitude (Romans 1:20-21) and the way of indulgence (Romans 1:27ff) trouble mankind. Going to the right source is necessary to be successful.
Lastly, he gave a declaration. “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Real, everlasting joy is found when men seek God.
Sadly, our world and our nation seek after all the wrong things, only to be left with hopelessness and despair. God rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). We seek by faith through God’s Word (Romans 10:17). While this life is filled with little bits of joy and pieces of happiness, real lasting joy is found in seeking and in finding God. We all “should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:27-28).
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Consequently we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. … Therefore openly before the churches show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you. (2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 24)
Elect From Every Nation,
Yet One O’er All the Earth
For many years, God’s people were physically descended from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to be outside of this lineage was to be outside of the kingdom of God. This was not always to be the case, however. God promised Abraham from the beginning that through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed, not just one family or one race of people. We see this throughout the Old Testament prophets, most clearly, though, in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:1, which describe the mountain of the house of the Lord being raised up and all the nations streaming to it (cf., Hosea 1:10; 2:23; Romans 9:23-26). In Acts 2, we find Jews from every nation under heaven being converted to the Gospel, but there was still the matter of the Gentiles, those not of the physical lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is addressed in Acts 10 where Cornelius became the first Gentile convert to the Gospel, breaking forever the barrier dividing Jew and Gentile, for all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).