I’ve been doing some reading of some of the Saints of old and in a sermon entitled “Nothing upon Earth Can Represent the Glories of Heaven,” the young Jonathan Edwards (age 20!) said: “The godly are designed for unknown and inconceivable happiness.” This idea he discerned from the purpose of God to glorify himself in creating the world and from his conviction that, “this glory of God, [consists] in the creatures (us) admiring and rejoicing [and] exulting in the manifestation of his beauty and excellency.” In other words, the certainty and greatness of the happiness of God’s people is as sure as God’s zeal for his own glory.
What was Jonathan getting at? Well, it’s quite simple really. God is zealous for His glory, and so much so that he delights to show his glory in the way he delights in us. He delights so much in our happiness that this entire world that he created is bent on it. Consider some passages: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17 Think about this for a moment. When your mind pictures a mighty warrior, what do you visualize? Big and strong; dressed in armor. Hardened gaze and tough, right; think of the movies 300 and Gladiator. But we see another side of this mighty warrior. As a father, this is the kind of man that I want to be: tough and tender. A warrior when it comes to my family when things are coming against them, whether it be spiritual attack, or it be someone breaking into my house…don’t mess with Papa Bear. But the contrast is striking. Not only is our great God a mighty warrior, but he is a tender father also. He takes great delight in us, he rejoices over us with singing. Do you see God as a father, tucking you in at night and singing you a lullaby? This is the Abba that we worship. How about another: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.” – Jeremiah 32:40-41 What I love about this passage is that his is an everlasting covenant. This is not some passing promise that one makes to their kids about going to McDonalds after church then forgets; this is law, this is forever! But that’s just the beginning of this passage, lets dive deeper. God tells us that he will never stop doing good to us. No matter what we are going through, he will never stop doing good to us. Now this brings up a problem in our human minds; mainly that there are times that we do not feel that God is doing good, or that he is allowing things that we see as not so good happening in our lives. What do we do with that? Well, simply, we trust that in the end of whatever it is, it will work out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
How can we stand on such a promise? He tells us that he will inspire us to fear Him. He won’t make us, or tell us to, or even demand that we fear him. He will inspire us to do that which we seem so bent on ignoring. Think about it, do you wake up every day with a prayer on your lips and a song in your heart to God? I know I don’t! But the Lord will put those desires on our hearts as we trust in His goodness! Going back to the passage at hand, we just read that He will never stop doing good to us, but not only that, he will rejoice in doing good to us. Again, think of a parent who sees an amazing toy in the store and buys it, with the joy of their child in mind. It’s like the parents who wake up early on Christmas day, grab a cup of coffee and sit back and revel in the joy of their kids as they open presents! He finds such joy in doing us good. But that’s not even the crazy part; he says that he will do this with all of his heart and soul! With all that he is…with the fullness of his identity he will do good to us, and will inspire us to fear Him in our hearts! Astounding and utterly inconceivable! Permit me one more scripture to share with you: “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:10-11 In this passage David makes a contrast between God’s delight in men versus His creation. The main point here is not that he doesn’t take delight in His creation, we read in Genesis 1 that he does; but He delights in something more than strength, more than the strength of animals, and even the strongest of men. He delights in us who fear Him. Wait now, remember the passage in Jeremiah? God will inspire us to fear him! That means that God will inspire us to be His delight, he will inspire us to put our hope in his love. It’s not us who can do this…remember this morning? God will do the work in our hearts to fear and hope in him…if we allow him to do so!
It’s these truths that will get us through any trial and hard time, it’s these truths that will enable us to share our faith and lives and evangelize the word! What we need most, if we are going to show the God’s glory to the world around us is a bigger picture of the God who is utterly committed to joyfully demonstrating his delight toward us in doing us good. That is, we need to see the majesty of God and know the splendor of God overflowing toward us with childlike happiness. It is not enough for us to know and understand that God is big and strong and that we should fear his power—although this is true, and we should. We must experience an explosion of his glory in his uncontrollable joy to satisfy our deepest desires and to show us himself; like a bride wants to reveal herself fully and completely to her bridegroom on their wedding day. Like a king showing his glorious power to the people he loves! The fact that God longs to do us good, in fact, it’s his delight to do so is the most freeing discovery that anyone can make. My prayer is that we would believe and enjoy this freedom and feel the explosion of His delight in our hearts, our lives, our families, and our ministries. Truly the “godly are designed for unknown and inconceivable happiness.”