THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD Lesson #21
The Joy of God Deuteronomy 30:9
Joy is complacency, satisfaction, and delight. The Lord our God is so kind, gracious, and good to his people that he makes joy a duty. He commands us to rejoice! “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). He says, “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thess. 5:16). Paul tells us that God has given us the “joy of faith” (Phil. 1:25) and that our spiritual joy in Christ is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Joy is the commandment of God and the gift of God. But did you know that joy is also an attribute of God, an essential part of his character as God? As God is a God of holiness, justice, truth, and grace, he is also a God of joy.
Here are three texts of Scripture in which joy is attributed to the Lord our God. In Jeremiah 31 and 32 the Lord God proclaims some of his blessed covenant promises to his people (31:3, 31-34; 32:36-40). Then, in Jeremiah 32:41, he makes this the crowning promise of his covenant grace: “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good!”
In Deuteronomy 28:63 we read, “The LORD rejoiced over you to do you good.” In that chapter Moses declares to Israel all the blessings of God upon those who perfectly obey his commands, blessings which could never be won by any man, but Christ. Yet, since Christ has won them for his elect, by his obedience to God as their Representative, they may be and should be properly claimed by all who believe him. They are ours by his merit and by virtue of our union with him. Are you a believer? If so, read what God has promised to you (vv. 1-14) and rejoice! He blesses us in everything! In the latter part of the chapter we read of God’s curses upon all who transgress his law. The ungodly, those who will not trust Christ alone for righteousness, standing upon their own merit, are cursed and condemned in everything. Then, in verse 63, we are told of God’s joy. Now, read what the text says. As the Lord God rejoices in conferring upon his elect the benefits of his grace, so he rejoices in pouring out upon the wicked the punishment of his just wrath. Though “he delighteth in mercy,” and though judgment is his strange work, it is his work, and he joys in it. God rejoices in the display of his justice and holiness and in the display of his goodness and grace.
In Deuteronomy 30:9, we read, "And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:" In chapters 29 and 30 Moses gives us “the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded.” In their ultimate fulfillment, this covenant and the prophecies of these two chapters refer to the salvation of God’s elect in Christ, as a comparison of Scripture with Scripture will readily show.
· Compare Deuteronomy 30:6 with Philippians 3:3.
· Compare Deuteronomy 30:14 with Romans 10:8.
So the message of verse nine is that the Lord God himself takes joy in the salvation of his own elect in the Lord Jesus Christ, his Son.
Be sure you understand that with God joy is an attribute of his glorious Being, not a passion. The joy of God is therefore eternal, infinite, perfect, and immutable. It is not a conditional, fluctuating joy, but an immutable, unchanging, unchangeable joy. Joy in God is his eternal complacency, satisfaction, and delight.
GOD REJOICES IN HIMSELF (1 Chron. 16:27). In his Psalm of thanksgiving to God, David said, “Glory and honor are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.” When God dwelt alone in the solitary perfection of his glorious Being, when nothing else existed except in God’s infinite mind, there was joy and gladness in his place. This needs to be recognized. God was perfect without us from eternity. And being perfect, he was joyful in himself. The point is this - God does not need angels, or men, or any other of his creatures to give him joy, satisfaction, complacency, and delight. God’s joy is in himself. The three Persons of the Holy Trinity find joy in one another. It is right for God’s joy to be in himself because he is perfect. And God always rejoices in perfection.
Because God always rejoices in perfection, we know that GOD REJOICES IN ALL HIS WORKS (Psa. 104:31). The psalmist declares, “The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.” And the implication is that he will rejoice in all his works forever (Rev. 4:11). Everything that God is doing, has done, or shall hereafter do, is to him a matter of endless joy.
Though in his actions he appeared to have regretted making man upon the earth (Gen. 6:6), because he changed his course of action and poured out his wrath upon the fallen race in Noah’s day, God himself did not change. He had not made a mistake! And even when he appears to be, in our eyes, disgusted with his works, he never is. Every work of his hand is perfect and always gives him joy.
God takes joy in his works of creation (Gen. 1:31; 2:2). God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them by the word of his power. And when he had finished his works, he not only rested from them, but rested in them too. He looked over all that he had made with joy, pleasure, and satisfaction, and pronounced that they were very good. But there is more - God still has joy in his creation, otherwise, he would not uphold all things by the word of his power. The fact that he maintains the universe in existence is evidence that he yet finds joy in that which he has made.
The Lord also rejoices in all his works of providence. When he speaks of his works of providence, our God says, “I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). The works of providence, when we contemplate them, give us unspeakable pleasure and delight. Though God’s ways and his works are past finding out, we see in providence the infinite depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge, and rejoice (Rom. 11:33-36). And in that day when all things are made manifest, when all things are revealed in their true light, God’s saints will shout his praise with unending, everlasting joy (Rev. 4:11). Imagine what delight, joy, complacency, and satisfaction God’s works of providence must give to him! The works of providence are the works of his will and pleasure. He sees and knows their beauty, harmony, and connection. And he knows perfectly what the end results of his works will be - The salvation of his elect and the glory of his name (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:10-12)
The Lord God particularly delights in the great work of redemption devised by his infinite wisdom and wrought out by his dear Son. Our redemption by Christ and salvation by the grace of God through the almighty operations of his Holy Spirit gives joy to the triune God (Lk. 15:7, 9, 22-24). . Our redemption and salvation by Christ displays the great glory of God (Ps. 85:9-11). It is in the cross of Christ that we see the glory of God’s love and mercy, grace and truth, holiness and justice, wisdom and faithfulness. God rejoices in his work of redemption because by it Christ obtained, upon the ground of strict justice, the salvation of his people, whom he loved with an everlasting love. This is what his heart was set upon from eternity. This is what he resolved to do before the worlds were made. This is the end for which he predestinated all things.
God also rejoices in his work of grace in the hearts of his people. His work of grace in us is our beauty, even the beauty of holiness, which the King greatly desires, by which his elect are made all glorious within (Song of Sol. 4:9-10; Ezek. 16:6-14). The righteousness of Christ imputed to us in justification makes the believer judicially appealing and beautiful before the Lord. And the righteousness nature of Christ imparted to the redeemed in regeneration makes them all glorious within (Col. 1:27; 2 Pet., 1:4; 1 John 3:9). We are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10), his masterpieces, in which he delights. We are the work of his hands, curiously and mysteriously wrought by him, in which he is glorified (Isa. 60:21).
GOD REJOICES IN HIS DEAR SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Without question, God finds joy in his Son as his equal in the Holy Trinity because Christ is himself God. But the blessed revelation of the gospel is the fact that God’s joy, pleasure, delight, and satisfaction is in Christ as our Mediator (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Col. 1:18-19). There is only one Man in all the universe with whom God is absolutely, eternally, and immutably well-pleased. And that Man is Christ, our Mediator. God is pleased with Christ’s obedience to Him as our Representative to fulfill all righteousness (Rom. 5:19). He is pleased with Christ’s blood sacrifice for the satisfaction of his justice as our Substitute (Isa. 53:9-10). He is pleased with Christ’s intercession as our Advocate (1 John 2:1-2). And God is pleased with every sinner who trusts Christ as his Savior. No one can please God by his works. But all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ please God by faith in him (Heb. 11:6). It is not our faith that pleases God, but Christ the Object of our faith. And God is pleased with us in Christ, our Mediator.
THE LORD OUR GOD REJOICES, DELIGHTS, TAKES PLEASURE IN, AND FINDS COMPLACENCY IN HIS PEOPLE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. That is astonishing; but it is a fact. God takes pleasure in us, his people! We are his Hephzibah in whom he delights, his Beulah to whom he is married (Isa. 62:4-5). Therefore, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so the Lord rejoices over and takes pleasure in us (Psa. 147:11; 149:4). Imagine that! In the words of the covenant, God said, “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good” (Jer. 31:41). And he does what he promised. He rejoices over us because we are united to Christ. God the Father rejoices in us as his covenant people from eternity. God the Spirit rejoices in us as the products of his grace. He revealed Christ to us and in us. He assures us of our adoption. He has sealed to us the blessings of the covenant. And he preserves and keeps us in grace. And God the Son rejoices over us as his own peculiar people. Christ rejoiced over us before ever the earth was as the delight of his heart (Prov. 8:31). His joy in us sustained him as he endured the ignominy, agony, and death of the cross as our Substitute (Heb. 12:2). Our Savior rejoices in the conversion of his redeemed ones (Lk. 15:3-5). Every time a sinner is saved by grace, it is to the Son of God “the day of the gladness of his heart” (Song of Sol. 3:11). And in the last day we shall be to the Lord Jesus Christ, our dear Savior, his joy and crown of rejoicing (Psa. 45:13-15; Jude 24).
Can you imagine the blessedness of Christ’s joy toward, in, and with his people? The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, rejoices in us! Sinners though we are, being saved by grace, Christ finds in us a constant cause for joy! He rejoices to...
· Bestow upon us the benefits of grace and the glory of heaven.
· Make us a prosperous, spiritually prosperous people.
· Make all things work together for our good.
God’s joy in us is full. It is abundant and overflowing. It is hearty and sincere. And it will remain forever. Our God has rejoiced in us. He now rejoices in us. And he shall forever rejoice in us. We are the joy of our God. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). If God so rejoices over us, surely we ought to rejoice in him (Ps. 35:27-28).