“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,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”
Most of us are familiar with the popular Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World” by Isaac Watts. One of the beautiful things I appreciate about Christmas is the opportunity it provides to sing familiar hymns and songs associated with the birth of Christ. Christmas provides a yearly rhythm where we reflect on the gospel by drawing us to sing songs that the church usually reserves for just the Christmas holiday season. There is a beauty and a danger in familiarity. The beauty is that the words of these songs are imbedded in our memories, and hopefully our hearts. The danger is that their familiarity can lead us to recall and sing them without giving much reflection to what we are singing.
I was thinking this week about this particular line from “Joy to the World” and the powerful truth it proclaims that I really have never paused to reflect upon. In the first line of the hymn, we excitedly pronounce “joy to the world” because the Lord and King has now come. The announcement of the arrival of the King ignites joy into the hearts of those who belong to His kingdom. Consequently, we are called to “let every heart prepare Him room”. In order to make room for the King of Kings, you must first relinquish the right to your own throne.
When we come to this third verse, we see the powerful implications of the arrival of our King. This King of Kings is also our kinsman redeemer. He has come not only to establish His rule over the earth, but also to redeem us from the curse of sin that we have brought into the world and into our own lives because we rejected His rule and authority and decided to supplant His rule with our own. The result of our sin and rejection of Him is seen in the prevailing presence of sin and sorrows in our world. As we fell in the garden, God pronounced a curse not only to Adam, but to the very creation that he was commanded to steward. God 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; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Paul echoed this curse on creation in Romans 8 when he wrote, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Simply put, have you ever wondered to yourself, “What is wrong with this world? Why does life have to be so hard?” The answer is that this world and all its inhabitants are living under the rightful curse of the sin and rebellion of all mankind. And the scope of that curse is universal. Paul says that the entire creation was subjected to futility. But the good news of the gospel, and the good news we proclaim in song, is this truth – because our sovereign King and perfect Redeemer has finally come, there will one day be a full and final redemption in which sin and sorrow will no longer grow and thorns will one day be vanquished from creation. Not only that, but His blessings will flow “far as the curse is found.” There isn’t one fallen molecule in this creation that will not one day experience the blessings of redemption. What a glorious truth to sing! Joy to the world, indeed!