Where Did He Get It?

Sun and moon bow down before Him,
All who dwell in time and space.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise with us the God of Grace!

— HENRY LYTE 1

*    *    *    *    *

   In one of His most significant utterances, Jesus gave this word of cheer to His disciples: "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."2 How much do we know about the Father's good pleasure "which He purposed in Himself"? We humans often take pleasure in putting things together; why should not God the Creator take joy in what the psalmist calls the "work of His fingers"? Listen to these words in Isaiah and Zephaniah:

Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create.3

He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

   When I meditate on the opening words of Genesis, I think I hear the music of the morning stars. Let us go one better than the airline that claims to fly in "friendly skies." Let us believe

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that God put a song of gladness in outer space, that the mighty galaxies themselves are expressing cosmic joy:

. . . forever singing, as they shine,

"The hand that made us is divine!"5

   Our first premise, based on faith, is that the cosmos we know, the universe of which we can see only a tiny portion through the Hubble telescope, is an expression of love and joy by the Creator. This premise is predicated on the Word of Truth in the Bible, which proclaims that God is love. We can say that God invented the smile if we like, and that He invented human laughter, but we cannot say He invented love because He is love. The mighty machinery of the galaxies is the expression of His love. The joy implanted by the Creator God Himself acting out of love became the joy that caused the morning stars to sing together.

   Before we leave the mysteries of eternity, let us think again about the One who brought into being this magnificent expanse of creation. Theologians have deduced, not from spatial considerations but from their understanding of divine revelation in the Bible, a number of attributes of God which they consider self-evident. These attributes they call divine perfections. The list varies from one theologian to another and one creed to another, but it usually includes the following: God is infinite, eternal, immutable, illimitable, immortal, all-wise, all-knowing, all-goodness, spiritual, holy, sovereign, righteous, gracious, merciful, loving, and true.

   Did you notice an omission from the list? What about joy? Is not joy an attribute of God? For some reason joy seems to have been overlooked or muted, if not actually ignored in theological studies and writings since the days of the apostles. A quick look on any seminary or Bible college library shelf is sufficient to convince the casual researcher of the absence of joy.

   Yet surely joy is not incompatible with any of the attributes in the above compendium. If God is perfect holiness, is He not

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also perfect joy? If He is love, does He not express His love joyously?

   My conclusion is that at least some respected members of the scholarly community do not consider joy to be an attribute of God. Perhaps they think that attributing joy to God is (as Freud would say) an anthropomorphism. I submit that this opinion seems unsupported by Scripture, which tells us in many ways and places that "God is love" and "the joy of the Lord is your strength."

   Scientists sometimes refer to the material cosmos around us, with all its dimensions and facets, as the "given." If we should ask some members of the scientific community whether love and joy are present in the "given," they would turn toward us with a rather odd look. What? Love on Arcturus and Betelgeuse? Joy on the moons of Uranus?

   The response would be in the negative; we would be informed that the universe is totally insensitive to such emotional qualities. The cosmos is there it is a datum open to scrutiny as to what it is but it tells us nothing about origins: where it came from or why it exists. As for such things as love and joy, we might look for them among a random assortment of human beings, but nowhere else.

   But here is an interesting sidelight. Many of the scientists of the past and present who have been exploring the universe believe there is "more out there" than the material facts show. As they see it, the sum of the data, when taken together, is greater than the data in the computer. They are convinced that God does in fact reveal Himself in love, that the universe was created in goodness and is an expression of divine pleasure and joy.

   For one reason or another, many of these scientists are unable to express their faith freely in the classroom, but it is nonetheless genuine. They would, I think, agree with the premise of this book: that the entire Godhead Father, Son, and Holy Spirit express the joy that is inherent in what God has created, and that when He condescended to dwell upon the earth, our Lord Jesus Christ drew upon that joy in becoming the

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Redeemer of the human race. How that occurred is beyond our humble capacity to imagine. What we see in the Gospels is simply the evidence.

   Having looked at the vastness of the outer reaches of our Father's creation, let us now open the record and see how Jesus went about His mission. We will start by examining His personality. Hang on! It should prove interesting.

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1. Hymn, "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven," 1834.

2. Luke 12:32

3. Isaiah 65:18

4. Zephaniah 3:17

5. Joseph Addison, "Ode," in The Spectator, A.D. 1712

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