The Joy of Jehovah

“And Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the Law. And the people [were] in their place. And they read aloud clearly in the Book of the Law of God, and they gave the sense, and caused [them] to understand the reading. And Nehemiah the governor, and Ezra the priest, the scribe, and the Levites who taught the people, said to all the people, This day [is] holy to Jehovah your God. Do not mourn or weep, For all the people wept when they heard the Words of the Law. Then he said to them, Go eat the fat, and drink of the sweet, and send portions to him for [whom] nothing is prepared. For this day [is] holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of Jehovah [is] your fortress. And the Levites [were] silencing all the people, saying, Be quiet, for today [is] holy, and do not be grieved. And all the people went to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the Words which were made known to them. And on the second day the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe even to ponder the Words of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:7-13; underlining mine).

The Christian Confession of Faith (CCF) states concerning “the Words of the Law”:

The function of God’s law is to show forth God’s perfect standard of righteousness that His people may:

1. Learn their natural inability to meet that standard, [Deu 9:4-6; Psa 130:3; Isa 64:6; Dan 9:5-11; Rom 3:19-20; 5:13,20; 7:7-13; Gal 3:10-12; 4:24-25; Jam 2:10-11]

2. Rest in a Substitute who would and did meet that standard on their behalf, [Psa 32:1-2; 34:19-20; 130:4; Isa 53:11; Joh 8:56; Rom 3:21-22; 7:24-25; 2Co 5:21; Gal 3:19; Heb 7:25-27; 11:24-28; 1Pe 2:21-24]

3. And strive to obey Him out of love, thankfulness, and a desire to glorify Him. [Exo 20:20; Deu 6:1-25; 8:1-18; 10:12-13; 13:4; Jos 1:8; 23:6; 1Sa 15:22; Psa 1:2; 119:2,4-6,10-11,16,55,60,72,77,97,109,112,129,166-168; Ecc 12:13; Mat 22:37-40; Joh 14:15,21; Rom 6:1-2,11-13; 1Co 6:20; Eph 5:15-21; Heb 12:28-29]  (The Christian Confession of Faith)

Nehemiah 8:10 says:

“… the joy of Jehovah [is] your FORTRESS” (LITV; caps mine)

The more recent version of the LITV and some other versions translate it “REFUGE” and “STRENGTH,” respectively.  Jesus Christ’s penal and preceptive satisfaction to the Law is the true believer’s righteousness and strength.  It is the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ that is the EXCLUSIVE GROUND of the believers’ acceptance with God.

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I [am] God, and there [is] no other. I have sworn by Myself, the Word has gone out of My mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. He shall say, Only in Jehovah do I have righteousness and strength; to Him he comes; and they are ashamed, all who are angry with Him. In Jehovah all of the seed of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:22-25; underlining mine).

From the CCF:

C. His Work

1. When He became incarnate, Jesus Christ was made subject to the law of God and was obliged to obey all its precepts. He did this perfectly, to the minutest detail. [Psalm 40:8; Isa 50:5; Mat 3:15; 2Co 5:21; Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14-15; 4:15; 7:26; 1Pe 2:22-23; 1Jo 3:4-5]

2. The consummate act of obedience that Jesus Christ paid to the law was in suffering the ultimate penalty for the disobedience of His people that the law demanded. Thus, while upon the cross, Jesus Christ, as a perfect representative, substitute, and sacrifice for His people, became a curse for His people and suffered the unmitigated fury of God the Father, which was equivalent to suffering the very pains of hell. This was not for any guilt He had contracted Himself but for the sins of His people. Their guilt was imputed to Him, and He suffered the penalty their sins deserved. His finished work on the cross appeased God’s wrath in full toward all for whom He died and paid the ransom price in full for all for whom He died, guaranteeing the salvation of all for whom He died. [Gen 22:13; Exo 12:3-13; Lev 16:21-22; 17:11; Psa 22:1-18; 32:1; Isa 53:1-12; Dan 9:24-26; Zec 13:7; Mat 26:28; 27:35-50; Mar 15:24-37; Luk 23:33-46; 24:46; Joh 11:49-52; 19:16-30; Act 17:3; 20:28; Rom 3:24-25; 5:6-11; 1Co 1:30; 5:7; 6:20; 15:3; 2Co 5:21; Gal 1:4; 2:20; 3:13; 4:5; Eph 1:7; 2:13-17; Col 1:14,20-22; 2:13-14; 1Th 5:10; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Heb 2:9-10,17; 9:12-14,26-28; 10:10-18; 13:12; 1Pe 1:18-19; 2:24; 3:18; 1Jo 1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10; Rev 1:5; 5:9]

3. The perfect righteousness that Jesus Christ established is imputed to every one of God’s people in time. Because of this imputed righteousness, they are declared blameless before God and reconciled to God. Christ’s righteousness imputed demands God’s favor and fellowship toward them. [Job 29:14; Psa 32:2; 85:10-11; Isa 53:11; 61:10; Jer 23:5-6; Rom 3:21-22; 4:6-8; 5:9-11,17-19; 8:1,31-39; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:18-21; Eph 5:25-27; Col 1:21-22; Tit 3:6-7]

4. The Father set His seal of approval upon the work of Jesus Christ on the cross by resurrecting Him from the dead and exalting Him to sit at the Father’s right hand. [Job 19:25-27; Psa 16:10; Luk 24:4-7; Act 1:22; 2:24-33; 3:15; 4:10,33; 5:31; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:3,31; Rom 1:4; 4:24-25; 5:10; 6:4,9-10; 8:34; 10:9; 14:9; 1Co 15:20-28; 2Co 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Ti 2:8; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pe 1:21]

5. From there Jesus Christ rules and intercedes for His people until the day He judges the world and until the final enemy, death, is subdued beneath His feet. [Psa 96:13; 110:1,6; Mat 25:31-46; Act 10:42; 17:31; Rom 8:34; 2Co 5:10; 2Ti 4:1]

6. Those who deny the effectual work of Jesus Christ, claiming instead that the blood of Jesus Christ atoned for everyone without exception (including those in hell), deny the very heart of the gospel. They do not believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, these self-righteous boasters believe that it is the effort of the sinner that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. These blasphemers deny that Jesus Christ made full satisfaction for sins and that Jesus Christ accomplished and ensured salvation for all whom He represented. They trample underfoot the precious blood of Jesus Christ, treating it as something of no value. They glory and boast in themselves, for whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one glories and boasts in. There is not a single one of these blasphemers who is a child of God. [Psa 25:14; 74:18; 94:4; 139:20; Pro 30:12-13; Isa 28:14-18; 42:8; 48:11; Joh 16:8-14; Rom 3:27-28; 4:2; 10:3; 16:17-18; 1Co 2:12; 2Co 10:3-6; Gal 1:8-9; 6:14; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:18-19; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:2-5; 4:3-4; Heb 10:29; 1Jo 2:22-23; 4:6; 2Jo 9]

D. Jesus Christ Alone

1. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men, for He alone has partaken of both the divine and human natures and is alone able to lay His hand upon both God and Man. Scripture rejects the lie that Mary or any “saints” mediate between God and men. [Job 9:32-33; Isa 53:12; Zec 6:13; Luk 23:34; Joh 14:6; Act 4:12; Rom 5:1-2; Eph 2:14-18; 1Ti 2:5; Heb 4:15; 9:15; 10:19-20; 12:24]

2. According to the terms of the eternal covenant, the mediatorship of Jesus Christ is designed for the benefit of the elect alone and is absolutely effectual to secure pardon for their sins and all the blessings of God’s favor and fellowship toward them. [Isa 49:5-8; Mat 1:21; Joh 6:39; 10:11,27-29; 17:3; Act 20:28; Rom 8:33-39; Gal 3:17-18; Eph 1:3; 5:25; Heb 8:6-13] (The Christian Confession of Faith)

True Christians (God’s elect people) strive to obey their Triune God out of love, thankfulness, and a desire to glorify Him — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies, my encirclers, and I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises to Jehovah” (Psalm 27:6).

“Be glad in Jehovah and rejoice, you righteous [ones]; and all the upright in heart, shout for joy” (Psalm 32:11).

“And the humble ones shall increase joy in Jehovah, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 29:19).

“And the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and enter Zion, with singing and everlasting joy on their head; gladness and joy shall reach [them]; and sorrow and sighing shall flee” (Isaiah 35:10).

“For Jehovah comforts Zion. He comforts all her desolations, and He makes her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of singing praise” (Isaiah 51:3).

“Yea, the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and come to Zion with singing, and everlasting joy [shall be] on their head; gladness and joy shall overtake [them]; sorrow and sighing shall flee” (Isaiah 51:11).

“The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah [is] on Me, because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the meek. He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and complete opening to the bound ones; to proclaim the acceptable year of Jehovah, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the spirit of infirmity, so that one calls them trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, in order to beautify Himself” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

“Hear the Word of Jehovah, those who tremble at His Word. Your brothers who hate you, who drive you out for My name’s sake, have said, Jehovah is glorified. But He shall appear in your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 66:5).

“Your Words were found and I ate them; and Your Word was to me the joy and gladness of my heart. For I am called by Your name, O Jehovah, God of Hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).

“O Jehovah, bow down Your ear, answer me, for I [am] poor and needy. Guard my soul, for I [am] godly; O You, my God, save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to Me, O Lord, for I cry to You daily. Give joy to the soul of Your servant; for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, O Lord, [are] good and ready to forgive, and rich in mercy to all who call on You. O Lord, give ear to my prayer; listen to my voice of supplications. I will call on You in the day of my trouble, for You will answer me. None among the gods [is] like You, O Lord, and none [are] like Your works. All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You; yea, Lord, [they] shall glorify Your name. For You [are] great and do wonderful things; You alone [are] God. Teach me Your way, O Jehovah; I will walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:1-11).

Related and Recommended Reading

Romans 8:19-22 sermon preached by Marc D. Carpenter

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