Greatest Cause for Rejoicing
By Roberta J. Kittrell
"Rejoicing" is one of those words with which we "church people" have become quite familiar. Yet, I have found that many of us don't really know its full meaning. "Rejoice" and its derivatives appear in Scripture over 280 times, depending upon which translation you are using. Inasmuch as I know neither Hebrew, Greek, nor Aramaic, I resorted to searching English dictionaries and thesauruses.
One first encounters difficulty with the "re" of "rejoicing." The "re" infers "again." Further study shows that there is a verb "joy" which is defined as "to experience great pleasure or delight: rejoice"; and has two archaic meanings: to gladden or enjoy (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary 1963).
Please stay with me. As we search the Bible, we will come up with a conundrum —a mystery. In Leviticus 23:33-43 we see the initial celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. All were to rejoice because of the Lord God and His bountiful blessings. This theme of rejoicing continues on until we come upon Deuteronomy 27:6-8:
"You shall build with whole stones the altar of the Lord your God. You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law." (NKJV)
What's happening? We now have the Mosaic Law being a contingent. Should one have a question as to its importance, let's proceed further to Deuteronomy 28:58-63:
"If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues-great and prolonged plagues-and serious and prolonged sicknesses. Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed. You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, SO THE LORD WILL REJOICE OVER YOU TO DESTROY YOU AND BRING YOU TO NOTHING; AND YOU SHALL BE PLUCKED FROM OFF THE LAND WHICH YOU GO TO POSSESS." (NKJV) (capitalized for emphasis)
Did you catch that? The Lord Who rejoices over doing good is also the Lord Who rejoices over destroying those who disobey. What's the significance? The Lord Your God is sovereign. He does not exist for us. We exist for Him. Yet, in spite of that, He's always been Jehovah Jireh – the Lord who provides. Consider the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world, the first shedding of blood — done by the Lord Your God to provide animal skins for the outward protection of mankind; and the solid blood-red thread of redemption which proceeds from Genesis 3:15 through Revelation.
In the New Testament, we are urged to rejoice and give thanks in and for everything, and to rejoice evermore since this is God's Will for us (I Thessalonians 5:18) and to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4).
"Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:5-6 NKJV.)
Some commentators attribute this to the three-part return of the Israelites from the Babylonian Captivity. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is throughout the Word — both Old and New Testaments. Could this possibly be referring to those to whom His Great Commission is given as they go and bring in the harvest of salvation? Can there be any greater cause for weeping and rejoicing?
© Roberta Kittrell 2004
Roberta Kittrell is a 68-year-old servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, widow, grandmother, great-grandmother, and councilor-encourager. She served for over 12 years as Volunteer Chaplain in jail/prison ministries. She presently ministers to whomever has a need, but primarily to family members of prisoners. She credits her ability to do this to God applying Romans 8:28-29 to the first 30 years of her life--before He saved her--which now enables her to relate to them, yet show how The Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, makes one new. You may write to Roberta care of the Letters page of this magazine.
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