Joy to the World: The Lord is Coming to Judge all the Earth

[August 13, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

(Jeff S singing O Holy Night with his guitar.) [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]

(Joy to the World, verses 1 and 2)
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour 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.

Isaac Watts’ great hymn, Joy to the World, [here [Internet Archive link]1, here [Internet Archive link]1], immediately brings thoughts of Christmas to our minds. There really was joy that night when the shepherds heard the angelic announcement that “unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11). Even heaven’s choirs were singing. Joy to the world, indeed.

But actually this hymn is based upon Psalm 98 which is a psalm not so much about the first coming of the Christ as it concerns that great Coming yet to take place. Listen to it:

(Psalm 98  ESV)
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. [Emphasis added.]

All the ends of the earth have seen His salvation as the Gospel has gone out all of these centuries since Bethlehem. And yet, He still is coming. He comes to judge the earth:

(Joy to the World, verses 3 and 4)
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

The end of the curse you see. That is what all of that thorns infesting the ground business is. The Fall of man. The entry of sin into the world and along with sin, death. And abuse. Christ came to remedy all of that by perfectly obeying the Law of God that demanded our death, and by taking upon Himself all of our sin on the cross, becoming a curse for us. Paul describes that double transaction:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Cor 5:21  ESV)

For he has made him who knew no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that we, by means of him, should be that righteousness which is accepted before God.  (2 Cor 5:21  NMB)2

So, Joy to the World. The Lord has come and yet is still to come. He will rule all of creation with truth and grace. All the nations will praise Him and we will bask in the wonders of His love, mercy, and glory. Face to face on a new earth that is every bit as real as the original one was, in real bodies as real people enjoying real life. Joy to the world.

All of us here at ACFJ, including all of our readers — our entire little community — are reminded daily of the horrors of the curse. Of the thorns and thistles of evil, sin, abuse, and injustice. We tell and listen to stories of betrayal of the worst kinds, of cold, empty eyes in a person whom we once thought truly loved us. We look for justice, but there is no justice so often. We cry out “violence!” but frequently, no one answers. Not even our churches. And so we tell our stories and we listen and we pray for one another, and it helps. It helps a lot. We grow wiser about the deceptive tactics of evil people and about how to handle them. How to recover from the trauma of having been their victims.

But ultimately we must all look to the Lord Jesus Christ and His promise to one day eradicate evil, far as the curse is found. The operation is already underway. In fact, evil has already been defeated. Already, but not yet. Not yet in its fullness. The day is yet to come when Christ rules with world with truth and grace so that His people can indeed sing “Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!” It is not yet. But it is certain.

When will that mother’s five year court battle to protect her children end? When will her cry for justice be fully answered? When will evil, terrorizing abusers be no more and the recompense they deserve be meted out to them? When will we all be able to sit down together, having forgotten what fear is, and live together in perfect peace, never to cry again? How long, O Lord?

(Rev 22:12-17  ESV)  “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Joy to the world! He is coming. He has seen all. He has heard all. And He is coming.

1[August 13, 2022: We added the links to’s pages for the hymn Joy to the World. The Internet Archive links are copies of those pages. Editors.]

2[August 13, 2022: We added the New Matthew Bible version of 2 Cor 5:21 because the ESV uses the phrase “made him [Jesus] to be sin” which has been — and still is — often written that Jesus “became sin” or “became death”. For clarification, the following is an excerpt by Barb on the post Abuse Victims Falsely Portrayed as Witches:

Comment excerpt:

Someone on Twitter had said “We follow a Savior who faced Death…who actually became death.”
It sounded ‘off’ to me, so I asked Ruth and Sam Powell whether they thought that was a correct statement. They both agreed is was not correct.

Ruth said:

Yes, I think this is off. He died for us, that’s all. I wonder if it is related to the Hebraism ‘Became sin for us.’ Tyndale explained in his 1534 New Testament that this meant ‘became a sin offering.’ Augustine confirmed this. But I hear it mis-taught a lot (understandably), with people saying He actually ‘became sin’. I have decided to update it fully in the NMB to ‘sin offering’ to avoid confusion.

Sam said:

I am not quite sure what is meant be ‘He became death’ but it isn’t quite right. Death is an enemy to be destroyed. The person who wrote that on Twitter might have meant that He truly died, but then she / he should have said that.

[August 13, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 13, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 13, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 13, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 13, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

11 thoughts on “Joy to the World: The Lord is Coming to Judge all the Earth”

  1. Dear readers, we confess, we made a boo boo and accidentally published this post earlier than we meant to. AND we published it on a weekend, something we’d said we wouldn’t be doing! So much for good intentions.
    It is too easy to hit that publish button by mistake! It sits near the ‘update draft’ button, and all it takes is a microsecond of inattention and you’ve hit the wrong button.
    So that means we can blame WordPress, eh, and let ourselves off the hook? 🙂

    We won’t publish a post this coming Monday, to remedy the balance.

    1. Yes, I don’t mind because it’s also my favorite hymn and has me singing while I bring drinks to my household of sick kids.

  2. Thank you for the boo boo, Barb. I, for one needed this post now. Thank you Jeff C. And most of all, thank you, Jeff S for the serenade to this “little” group. Beautiful and somehow I heard words I haven’t heard before.

    1. Thank you Pippa. This is my favorite Christmas hymn, and while there are many variations of the words, these are the ones I like best.

      “Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother, And in his name all oppression shall cease”.

      An encouraging word for us all, I think.

      1. LOL. Your son was amused. When I was singing along to Jeff’s song, my dog thought I was so excited that I was about to take him for a walk! Poor thing; I was about to head off to church and leave him on his ownsome 😦 .

  3. I for one was glad to see a new post. It was encouraging to me. So maybe it was meant to be. This blog has been so helpful to me and I have learned so much over the last coupla months. Thank you all for sharing! Praise God for his love and mercy!

  4. Oh, how I needed this, as well…
    A reminder of a future Hope, a greater Joy.

    As another Christmas carol sings…

    “…He appears and the soul felt its worth..”

    For all of us weary souls in this world, made weary and to feel “worthless” through abuse and oppression, may we feel ( and know) our worth in Him this season and all of the days to come.

    Thank all of you who speak and share your hearts and wisdom on this blog.

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