Peace, Heavenly Peace
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, Repeat, the sounding joy!
The carol, of which this is but one glorious verse, is probably one of the best-loved and most familiar hymns of praise that we sing during the Christmas season. When the Christmas season passes, however, this song, more often than not, seemingly passes out of the thoughts of even most Christians, only to be resurrected the following Christmas season, where they readily and easily ( thoughtlessly, ignorantly? ) sing verses like those above; 'why is this?'
Most Christians will quickly acknowledge the rule of King Jesus; up there, somewhere, reigning in 'Heaven', seated at the Father's right hand, holding sway over 'the hearts and minds' of those who acknowledge Him as their King. Isaac Watts, though, realized that Jesus had been sent to this earth ( world ) to reign and rule, on this earth! He was not alone in this assertion, i.e., it was nothing new!
First published in 1719; these words were based by Isaac Watts, on the 98th Psalm. Scriptural reference to the earthly reign of Jesus does not stop with this Psalm, though; in Psalm 2; David wrote these immortal words, 'Thou dost rule them with a sceptre of iron, As a vessel of a potter Thou dost crush them' ( Psalm 2:9-YLT ( Revelation 2:27 ). He wrote, in Psalm 22:28, 'the kingdom [ is ] the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations'. Throughout the Scriptures, but maybe especially, and most clearly in the Psalms; we see God ruling in the affairs of men, and reigning over the nations. John saw, in his vision recorded in Revelation 12:5, the Offspring which was promised in Genesis 3:15; he wrote, 'She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron'.
Those beloved brother and sisters who see Jesus as 'King of our hearts' acknowledge and long for a future fulfillment of this earthly reign, but do not see Him reigning on this earth as of yet, because, for one thing, 'if He is reigning now, why is there so much evil in the world?', why hasn't the wolf lain down with the lamb, and the lion with the calf?'
Why is there no peace in our generation?
We all know that true peace comes from God alone! Men have gotten the silly notion that peace comes only through bloodshed, but it is only through 'the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding' ( Philippians 4:7 ) that we can experience any true and lasting peace! This peace, the peace that we, as the people of God can experience every day, in even the worst of situations, is the peace brought about by the full realization of the apostle Paul's famous and most-loved words in Romans 8:28; 'we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [ His ] purpose'. These words should bring us the greatest comfort and peace, because, whatever happens to us, we know that it is for our good, and for His glory!
For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity.
( Psalm 98:9 )
Jesus came, according to Matthew 1:21, to 'save His people from their sins', but also, as we have seen in several Psalms, and in-directly, but usually directly, throughout Scripture, that He came to rule! It is through the salvation and redemption of His people, His 'purchased possession' ( Ephesians 1:14 ) that He rules and reigns on this earth. It is through the Peace that has shone in our hearts that peace can come to this beleaguered, embittered and embattled world. Through our peaceful ( though subversive ) actions, peace, true and lasting peace, will reflect from our peaceful hearts into the chaos and turmoil of the world around us, until truly,
'Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess'
( Romans 14:11 ( Isaiah 45:23 )!
'He rules the world with truth and grace!'
As I wrote above, 'Most Christians will quickly acknowledge the rule of King Jesus', especially during this Christmas season, but when the season has passed; how often do we hear from the pulpit the idea, much less the words, 'Jesus is ruling now!'?
Isaac Watts may not have had the full picture, not that we do, even yet, but he at least realized the impact of fulfilled prophecy; he realized that these prophecies throughout, in particular, the Hebrew Scriptures, had been ( past tense ) fulfilled in Jesus the Christ!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in 1864, during the height of the American Civil War, wrote a poem, now yet another well-loved Christmas carol, 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'. In the words of this famous poet, 'in despair I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth,” I said'. After all though; Henry realized, as did Maltbie Babock, nearly a generation later, that though 'hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men', 'God is the ruler yet'. 'This is Our Father's World', and though we sometimes forgot this all-encompassing fact, and it is because of this comforting fact that we should realize peace in our hearts, and through the Peace in our hearts, spread that Amazing Peace to the weary, war-torn world around us, so that they too, may experience that Peace!
The rule of King Jesus, though a reality to most Christians, as I described earlier, will not, to the reckoning, become a reality on this earth, this 'terra firma', until He returns 'in the glory of His Father with His angels' ( Matthew 16:27 ). The purpose of this article not being to argue the point, but merely to present the fact; the fact that Jesus is now ruling, in and through His people, is an indisputable fact!
As a friend of mine once said;
'God is in your life, get used to it!'
Charles Haddon Shank