>Does the title “Joyful Judgment” seem like an oxymoron to you?
It may, unless you read Psalm 98, which reflects such joyful anticipation of Christ’s return that one almost hopes Harold got one thing right.
Harold Camping is the voice of Family Radio, which has some edifying programs (Radio Reading Circle, Family Bible Reading Fellowship), but is also the sounding board for Harold’s aberrant theological views regarding the church age and his preposterous prophetical predictions. He currently predicts that “the Bible guarantees” Judgment Day on May 21, 2011.
The Bible assures us that “no one” knows that day and hour, not even the angels in heaven or the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24: 36, Mark 13:32). So I’m pretty sure Harold Camping hasn’t received some secret revelation. Although I admit there are times when I long so much for that day that I almost hope Harold is right.
And reading Psalm 98 certainly makes one long for that day. Psalm 98 is subtitled “Make a Joyful Noise to the LORD” in my regular English Standard Version Bible and “Let the sea roar” in my Literary Study Bible ESV.
The psalm rocks with praise, beginning with these marvelous and familiar words:
Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him (verse 1).
Salvation is one of the most marvelous and most powerful things God has done. But he hasn’t kept it a secret revealed only to a chosen few; he has made it known throughout the world:
The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations (2).
God has revealed salvation globally, but God’s global revelation has been particularized in his covenant relationship with those he loves, the chosen nation of believers, Abraham’s true children.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God (3).
Because all the earth can see how God’s love and faithfulness to believers never fails, the whole earth should joyfully praise God (4-6):
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
The above verses certainly seem to shoot down arguments against instruments in worship. God loves the joyful noise of praise! And he commands the use of various instruments.
The biblical image of the sea often represents nations in a rebellious uproar, but in this psalm it is coupled with the world’s people and seems to be part of the teeming creation praising God with a joyful noise (7):
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Creation and creatures unite in praise to the Creator! Why?
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity (8-9).
Creation and Christians rejoice with wild abandon because the Lord is coming! He is coming to judge the world and its people.
It may seem odd to equate such animated praise with Christ’s judgment, but that is the reality for believers. The unrepentant and unbelieving do well to tremble in silent contemplation of Christ’s return, but repentant believers join creation in recognition of Christ the Creator and the King. He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. He will free believers from this constant death and turn their mourning into everlasting song!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!