Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Battle Cry of Joy!

...for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

If you grew up in the church you may have learned a little song at Vacation Bible School or Sunday School that goes something like this:
I'm inright outright upright downright 
Happy all the time.
I'm inright outright upright downright
Happy all the time.
Since Jesus Christ came in,
And cleansed me from my sin,
I'm inright outright upright downright
Happy all the time!

This is another song that I have to say is just not a very good one; especially one to teach children! Jesus said, "In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33)  Being happy all the time just isn't going to happen. It's exhausting and probably leaves those around us thinking, "Are they for real?" 

Happiness really only depends on what's happening. But JOY - now that's another thing! Joy can mean happiness, pleasure, elation and more. However, not too long ago, I discovered another meaning of joy that gives it a whole new perspective. While doing a word study on the word joy, I found in my Biblical concordance that one of the original Hebrew words for joy was ruah or teruah which means, get this... BATTLE CRY!

Isn't that awesome?! 

Have you ever gotten so excited about or pumped up for something that you just wanted to shout? I know I have.  The Hebrew words rinnah and ranan convey this meaning. Several times in the Psalms the word joy expresses this emotion of a ringing cry.  

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

Psalm 32:10-11

But the Hebrew words ruah and teruah I think take it a step further. The joyful meaning of BATTLE CRY insinuates that there is an enemy approaching; a battle about to be fought. It calls us to action, not just excited outbursts of emotion. When we read of the goodness and power and strength of our God, it inspires us to press on despite what the enemy throws at us. We may not always be feeling happy, but we DO have hope and that is the kind of joy that keeps us strong.

Psalm 33
Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the LORD is upright,
And all His work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men;
From His dwelling place He looks out
On all the inhabitants of the earth,
He who fashions the hearts of them all,
He who understands all their works.
The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in You.

When we ponder what our champion, the Lord Jesus, has done for us and that the victory is ultimately His, doesn't that make you want to rise up and carry on? Yes, there is a time for rest and being quiet, but there are also times that God calls us to action. Sometimes the action is just standing firm and not shrinking back under the difficulties in our lives and sometimes that action is moving forward. It might start out as a slow walk, but before you know it He will have us running up against the enemy with all out speed.

I love that battle scene from the recent movie series based on the Chronicles of Narnia.  The enemy is approaching and those whom Aslan has appointed are waiting and standing firm. Then High King Peter gives the battle cry, "For Narnia and for Aslan!" and all his army follow him into the fray faithful unto death. 

My prayer is that we will be standing firm and listening for our High King, the Lord Jesus Christ who "for the JOY set before Him" has already won the victory on the cross. As the enemy approaches His people again and again, He lifts the sword of His Word and joyfully shouts out the battle cry, "For the Kingdom and For God's Glory!" Let us rise up and follow Him, faithful unto death.

Psalm 27
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.

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