Joy In Heaven
Luke 15, which is often referred to as the “Lost Chapter of the Bible” in that contextually Jesus tells three parables about lost things (i.e. a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son), is one of my favorite sections of Scripture. One of the things we get from this inspired text is the idea of joy in heaven (v 7). A common reference borne from these stories is that “the angels rejoice.” However a close examination of both the context and the original text tells us the focus is on the rejoicing of God. “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
We also take notice that in each story the “owner” of the thing lost calls his friends to rejoice with him. In Matthew 18:10 Jesus says the angels of the little ones “do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” This would lead us to believe that the angels do indeed rejoice, but their rejoicing is in response to the rejoicing of God, and that my friends should be our focus. God’s joy in us!
Recently a denominational preacher’s wife publicly stated that everyone just “do good for your own self.” “Do good because God wants you to be happy,” she said. “When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy.” Yet the Bible says, “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). And, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).
We need to understand that God does want us to be happy; He wants us to enjoy life (John 10:10), but not on our own terms! God knows what is best for us; He knows what will truly make us happy. What pleases God and causes Him to rejoice before the face of the angels?
Obedience. God wants us to obey His will because it is the source of all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). God’s love for us (John 3:16) and his desire to have a relationship with us (Ephesians 2:16) caused Him to send His Son to set an example of obedience (John 8:29; Hebrews 5:8–9) and living (1 Peter 2:21). Yes, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels when we obey God.
Repentance. The crux of our text is that God rejoices when even one sinner repents. It is important to note that the sheep that was lost was once safe in the fold. The coin was once a cherished possession of the owner. The son abode in the father’s house. But each ended up lost. God rejoices when the lost child comes back home.
Faithfulness. I have often stated that there is no greater word in the Bible than the word “faithful.” It will be the foundation of the greatest words our ears will ever hear. “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23). As John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4), even so God rejoices over His faithful children in the presence of the angels.
Have you been obedient to the plan of God that saves men, redeems them, and reconciles them? If not, be sure you have given God no reason to rejoice over you. Are you faithful? Do you need to repent and come back home? If so, why would you do anything other than that which causes God to rejoice and saves you from His wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? Do it today! Tomorrow may be too late.