A life of joy is marked by an outward expression of what bubbles up from within. Isaiah said, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). This entire chapter is saturated with the overflowing joy of a heart thrilled with its salvation and desiring to exalt the God who gave it.
The Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:33-36) was a joyful celebration to commemorate the wondrous ways God kept the children of Israel and led them through the wilderness. Although their hearts were rebellious, fearful, and full of unbelief throughout their wanderings, that was not where God wanted them to focus their attention.
Instead, God reminded them of all the good things: their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud to shade them by day, the pillar of fire to give them light by night, bitter water made sweet, manna, quail, the rock that followed them providing water, clothing and shoes that didn’t wear out, defeated enemies, deliverance from fiery serpents, and more.
The Feast of Tabernacles was eight days set aside for reflection, remembering, rejoicing, and recommitment. It was a time for joy. It was on the last (eighth) day of this feast that Jesus, overcome with the way in which they celebrated ritualistically (talking about joy without being joyful), cried with a loud voice,
“‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing on Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39, NKJV).
Every day for eight days they carried pots of water up the hill into Herod’s Temple with great pomp, singing psalms, professing joy, and quoting Isaiah 12:3. But, again, it was another case of lips saying one thing, while hearts were fully occupied elsewhere.
God’s heart was frustrated, vexed, and weary of their dividedness. They could not serve two masters. They needed to make a choice. Lukewarm, half-hearted, lip service was repugnant to God. Like He warned Laodicea, lukewarm things would be spewed out. Only earnest, honest, hungry hearts were ready to be filled, and He actively sought such to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The joy these hungry hearts would find would be “unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). So much so, that the world would take note, and would grow hungry and thirsty to find it for themselves. The whole Book of Acts is replete with joy-seeking, spiritually thirsty souls who longed to be filled to overflowing. That’s how the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
Our God is the author of joy, and that true joy is found in Jesus through the infilling of His Spirit.
Author Marjorie Kinnee shared her passion for God and a deep love of His Word.
(UPCI Ladies Ministries Newsletter – firstname.lastname@example.org)