“How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and by Your favor our horn is exalted.” (Psa 89:15-17)
There are particular words in the Scriptures that enjoin the ideas of blessedness, happiness, and joy. This is especially true when a prophetic view of the Messiah is in the background.
The Psalmist said, “How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of your countenance.”
When we think of, ‘joyful sound’, our thoughts often go to the sounds of praise and worship. This is rightly true. However, the term ‘joyful sound’ as used here by the Psalmist, carries an emphasis that isn’t always clear.
The joyful sound of this verse is the trumpet that sounded for the festivals, and especially when the trumpet was to sound on the morning of the Jubilee. The trumpet sound of Jubilee was joyful because it proclaimed the release of the captives, and the restoration of all their forfeited estates. This trumpet was to sound every fifty years.
Actually there is no Biblical record that the 50 year Jubilee was ever truly celebrated in Israel, yet its prophetic inference is important. The Jubilee had a view towards the coming King, God’s Messiah. The prophets knew this.
Listen as Jesus quotes from Isaiah:
“And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.'” (Luk 4:17-19)
Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 61. The prophet Isaiah set forth the coming of Messiah in the language of the Jubilee. The Jubilee was called, ‘the favorable year of the Lord.’ The coming of Messiah would be ‘great joy’ for all the people.
Now hear the message that the angel spoke to the paschal shepherds of the field –
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” (Luk 2:10-11)
This great joy would be for all people.
Even the term ‘great joy’ as spoken by the angel carries something in it that isn’t readily seen. The ‘great joy’ is the joy of God’s own heart. It is a heavenly joy that expresses God’s victory through the cross.
“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luk 15:10)
It is the Father’s joy that fills the very presence of heaven. It is this joyful heart that the Psalmist spike of, when he said, “They [believers] walk in the light of Your countenance.”
And here we see another interesting word. The term ‘countenance’ is the Hebrew word, ‘p?niym’ (pronounced paw-neem’) It speaks of the facial presence or reflection of a person’s attitude. Thus the believer is animated with the reflection of God’s own heart.
Jesus lights up our lives.
And so we now come to…
Our Heavenly Anchor
For believers this sustaining joy serves as a heavenly anchor all the days of our lives. This joy has nothing to do with earthly circumstance or situation. It is the joy of redemption. It is the joy that is an outflow of our hope in the Lord. Our hope centers on the certainty of our divine destiny.
The apostle explained it this way:
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom14:17)
This is also why the Psalmist included with the term, ‘joyful sound’, the adage, ‘they walk in the light of Your countenance.’
So, while we see the world crumbling around us, and terrible things taking place, in the deep of our hearts there is a sustaining joy of knowing that this world is not our home. We are the children of the cross and our journey on earth is but a moment in time. The eternal splendors of our heavenly home await us.
Actually we were foretold of the events we now see happening around us. The Lord said that men’s hearts would be failing them because of the distresses of these last days. Not so for the child of God. These events simply let us know that our redemption out of this world is drawing close.
Does this mean that we Christians never mourn? Certainly not. Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem. He even wept at the tomb of Lazarus.
Yes, we even share in the sorrow of Christ. Being born again does not mean that we lose our humanity.
Not only do we have sorrow over the passing of a loved one, but we have sorrow over the those who do not know the Lord, and especially when these take in members of our family.
We all have our share of tears and heartaches. Betty and I stood by the grave of our son, David. Yes, we wept. But at the same time we knew that David was with the Lord, and that we would be joined to him again.
It is this joy of knowing that has kept us through the years. This joy comes with the empty tomb of Jesus. He ascended into heaven. We ascend into heaven.
What More Can I Say
It is here where the book of Hebrews carries us through the hall of the faith of God’s people from ancient time. He begins with Abel and walks us down through the ages by calling attention to various ones who served the Lord faithfully, such as, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, Sampson, David, Abraham, and others.
But this is the part I love most of all:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
“For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Heb 11:13-16)
But the writer doesn’t finish there. He picks up the heavenly refrain by saying, “And what more shall I say?”
It is almost too much to put in this journal entry. But by chance you would like to know about the ‘what more’, is about, here is the Scripture portion. I suggest that you read it slowly and prayerfully:
“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
“Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” (Heb 11:32-40)
And so – What are we waiting for?
Perhaps we are waiting for trumpet sound of Jubilee.
The Trumpet Sound of Jubilee
The apostle Paul did call attention to a final trumpet sound:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1Co 15:51-52)
While you think on these things, how about taking time for a medley of songs including the old-timey, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”
In Christ always,