Day 3: God’s Desire for Joy in the Fight for Radiance
Although God is not as concerned about your physical beauty as you probably are—He is all about your radiance, reflecting your joy in Him. In fact, joy is such a consistent theme of Christianity, we find it across 40 books of the Bible. Make no mistake about it: God wants His people to rejoice. His desire is that we experience that calm delight in who He is and who we are because of Him. He longs for us to have such a feeling of confidence that He can be trusted with our lives, that it becomes evident on our very faces.
But did you realize the call to rejoice is more than a mere suggestion; it is a command? The first mention came through Moses as he received the Law on Mount Sinai. Three times per year God commanded the Israelites to come before Him. Two of these occasions required the people to feast and rejoice before the Lord. They were literally commanded to be joyful (Deut. 16:9-14).
You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
13“You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.
You and I might quickly skip over this commandment, but when the regulations came down from Moses to the Israelites, they likely stumped the multitude. A charge to rejoice and feast before God would have been a paradigm shift from the pagan religious practices of the Canaanites surrounding them. Far from rejoicing, these religions required mutilations of flesh, human blood spilled over alters, children made to walk through fire–-terrible stuff! What a stark contrast God created by calling His people to be joyful when they came before Him.
We find this commandment to rejoice continued in the New Testament.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.
To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Philippians 3:1
You and I are to be joyful, always. Thanks to the gifting of the Holy Spirit, we are equipped with the joy.
You became imitators of us and of the Lord,
for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering
with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
In fact, we have been assured “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8-9)! It’s not something some believers possess and others do not. Again, God is creating a stark contrast between His people and everyone else.
Except…when we are NOT always rejoicing. Many of us don’t look or act like we have been equipped with “an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Too many lack radiance.
It’s as if we are living more closely to the believers Paul confronted in Galatians (4:15) where he asked?
“What has happened to all of your joy?”
Could it be, we didn’t realize we would need to fight for it?