Psalm 65:8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.
There is no limit to God, and so no limit to His influence or to how His creation should respond to Him. The NIV says, “Those living far away,” but the Japanese sticks with “The ends of the earth.” It should be noted that that influence is for good. Fear is mentioned, but that is in the form of awe and respect. It’s the “songs of joy” that should catch our attention. Our theme for the readings at this point is “The Joy of the Lord,” and the Bible is certainly filled with it. When we decline His joy, we are really turning our backs on our Creator. As Dennis Prager has said, “You’ll never meet a happy leftist.” That’s certainly not to say that we are to be “happy, happy, happy, joy, joy, joy” all the time, but it is to say that a correct awareness of our Creator and His love for us is a deeply joyful thing. That’s why C. S. Lewis titled his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Of course there was a pun there, because his wife’s name was Joy and he married late in life, but he was deeply aware of the joy of the Lord, even though he is seen as a very serious person. If you are a committed “sourpuss,” you have no reason to look forward to heaven! Both the Bible and those who have had near-death experiences report that joy is something of a foundation for everything there, so we would do well to get into practice!
Having been born and raised in Japan, I have always latched onto Bible verses that could be seen as referring to Japan, such as this one. After all, Japan has long been called the Land of the Rising Sun. References to islands also ring my chimes, for the same reasons. The idea that God would call forth songs of joy from Japan is deeply exciting to me. I remain convinced that Japan has to be special in God’s plan because the devil has been so reluctant to let go of it. Right now one of the things it’s famous for is a high suicide rate, but I believe God wants to flip that around and make it famous for His joy. I have been planted here as His agent, and that means I must be an agent of joy. That’s not superficial and material, but the deep joy of knowing God’s love and responding to it in repentance and faith. Japan has a terrible track record in terms of responding to the Gospel, but nothing is impossible for God. The idea of God pouring His Spirit out on this nation gives me deep joy indeed!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed walk in Your joy even as I look forward to the indescribable joy of being in Your presence for eternity. May I draw more and more people into Your joy, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!