Monday, August 22, 2005

Invitation of Joy to the Nations

Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
(Psalm 100:1-2)
God is not exclusive to one people or place. Quite the contrary. He invites all peoples and all lands to come and enter into joy with Him.

Make a joyful shout! The Hebrew word is rua and means to break out of silence with ear-splitting sounds of joy. It might be a loud “Yahoo!” or the celebratory blast of a horn. In my neighborhood, whenever our football team scores a goal, my neighbor runs out to his car and honks the horn — repeatedly! He is making a joyful noise.

To the LORD. It is a joy that is in honor of, and is caused by the LORD, Yahweh! God is the source of joy — His presence is full of it (Psalm 16:11). Joy is the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Serve the LORD with gladness. “Gladness” is the Hebrew simcha — lightheartedness, joy, mirth, gaiety and pleasure. And it comes from serving the LORD. Serving God is never just a matter of rendering service to Him, but of serving with Him. For God is love, and it is the nature of love to give and to serve. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

So the call to serve the LORD is actually an invitation to partner with Him. Yes, God invites all the earth to come and join in partnership — fellowship — with Him. No wonder it is joyful, lighthearted and full of pleasure.

Come before His presence with singing. Here is the invitation to come into the presence of the King of all kings. And the surprise is that it is not meant to be full or terror or even of sorrow. We come singing, not mournful tunes or sorrowful dirges, but songs of joy and triumph. The kingdom of God is a party!

The psalm writer continues:
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
(Psalm 100:3)
This invitation is to come and know God by His personal name, Yahweh (rendered in English translations by “LORD” in all caps). This is the name by which He reveals Himself in covenant with His people. Indeed, this is a call to come enter covenant with Him.

This is an invitation for all the peoples to know the God who created them. We certainly did not create ourselves — pulling ourselves together out of the ooze, generating for ourselves the vast library of our genetic code, instilling our own personhood and intelligence into ourselves. No, God is our Creator, making us specifically in His own image and breathing into us the breath of His spirit.

This is also an invitation to come and know God as our Shepherd. “The LORD is my shepherd,” David declared, “I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23). Here is the promise of rest, provision, protection, guidance, goodness and mercy — all the blessing of God to all who come to Him. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to give us the life of God in abundance (John 10).
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
(Psalm 100:4)
Yes, come on in. Recognize the blessing God has for you and join the celebration. You cannot do for yourself. Let God to for you whatever you need and give Him thanks. Enter deeper into His presence with joyful songs of praise. Pull your head out and behold the wonderful gift that has been given to you, then lift your hands in worship and bless the One who has reached His hand out to you.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
(Psalm 100:5)
Yahweh is God and Yahweh is good! This is not a one-off, one-time celebration. What He is inviting the nations to is something that will endure forever. This is not just for the nations but for the generations. When you accept His gracious offer and step into His wonderful life, it will be a blessing, not only to yourself, but also to your children and your children’s children — even to a thousand generations.

Make a joyful noise — everybody! Everywhere! The fathers of the Westminster Confession understood this well. It declares the mankind was made for this purpose — to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

God is reaching out to the nations. Become aware of His glory manifesting all around you. Enter into covenant with Him. Partner up with the Servant King of the Ages and reach out with Him to love, give and serve. Intercede for all peoples in all places. Pray the Lord of the Harvest and let Him send you into all the world preaching the Good News, bringing forth signs and wonders of healing and deliverance. Then pass this great inheritance on to your children and your children’s children. For the LORD is good, His love and faithfulness will endure to all your generations. Come glorify God and enjoy Him forever!