It is time for God’s people to rejoice!
In America, we have a divided nation, a raging pandemic, racial tensions, economic turbulence, and an election year creating bitterly divisive and ungodly rhetoric. However, those things are not the reason we need to rejoice.
We need to rejoice because it is God’s will and it is good for us.
Galatians 5:22 says the “fruit of the Spirit is joy.” Joy is what God’s Spirit can produce in us. Then, we should express the joy He puts in us — regardless of the circumstances. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
Rabbi Jonathan Cohn, a Messianic Jew, is calling for a Sacred Assembly for Sept. 26 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, is promoting it. Cohn invites us to think about the fall of Israel and later Judah, and particularly about the prophet Habakkuk. He says, “Now is the window of time we have to repent — then judgment.”
Habakkuk desperately wanted revival to come to Judah. He begged and pleaded with God to send it. He became frustrated when God did not do it. God was going to send a wicked and pagan nation to destroy Judah. Habakkuk could not understand how a nation much more wicked than Judah would be allowed to destroy His chosen people. Judah needed to repent of her wickedness, but repeated calls from the prophets produced no repentance. The story of Habakkuk is this prophet’s personal struggle for revival and God’s revelation of what was really going to happen. Finally, in the closing three verses of the book (3:17-19), Habakkuk changes. He begins to rejoice — not because of the calamity that was coming, but in the God who rules over it all.
He said, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and he makes me walk on my high places.”
He got it! You and I need to get it, too. It’s not about ignoring our present difficulties, but about focusing above everything else on the God who rules. Bad times were definitely coming, and Habakkuk could not stop it — but He could rejoice in the God who is sovereign. The circumstances did not get better for Judah, but instead got worse. The change Habakkuk wanted did not come, but the change he needed came in the nick of time. He changed.
Where do we go from here in our lives, given the current realities we face? The options are many, but the best is to bow before God in submission and listen to His Word. Like Habakkuk, things may not change. In fact, they may get worse. But we will be changed — and through expressing the Spirit-produced joy in us, others will be changed, too.
I hope a cure for COVID-19 comes soon, and I hope a successful vaccine is available in the near future. I hope races can live together in harmony and peace, and I hope our economy improves so people can enjoy the blessing of this life. I hope our politicians can learn how to behave like civil human beings and not whiny children. Most of all, I hope you and I can learn to yield to God’s Spirit, who will produce His fruit in us. From the joy we receive, I hope we can rejoice (express it) in our words, songs, sermons, conversations, prayers and countenance.
Where do we go from here? Let’s start at the top with God and then work our way through whatever lies before us, rejoicing in Him as we go.