Updated: Dec 20, 2022
For as long as I can remember, Joy to the World has been a joy-bringer. No matter who is singing it, the lyrics and tune bring joy and excitement to the soul. Interestingly, the song written by Isaac Watts in the early 1700s was not intended to be a Christmas song. Instead, Watts wrote it in response to a challenge given to him by his father.
Young Watts frequently complained about the dull, boring songs being sung at church which, to him, had nonsensical lyrics and lacked joy. Finally, his father got so tired of the complaining that he told him, "Well then, young man, why don't you give us something better to sing." So, at 18, young Isaac took up his father's challenge. For the next couple of years, Isaac Watts wrote a new hymn for each Sunday (The Story Behind Joy to the World, www.praisecharts.com).
The first verse captures our hearts with the thrill of Jesus coming to us:
Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room. And Heaven and nature sing. And Heaven and nature sing. And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
As the song goes on, it is apparent that Watts was not writing about Christ’s first coming to earth as a baby in a manger, but rather His second coming to earth when He comes to rule and reign, as verse four declares:
He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders, wonders, of His love.
Living in a sin-soaked world of darkness and hopelessness, we Christians are increasingly aware that we are in the world but not of the world (John 15:19). For us today, the most powerful stanza of Joy to the World is verse three:
No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.
The curse on the world--now that’s something we feel every day. We are so used to the drudgery of the earth not being the idyllic Garden of Eden the Father first designed as our home. How far is the curse found? What does it look like—a New York ghetto? Bangladesh? Earthquakes? Tornadoes? Disease? Famine? Terrorism? Struggles to survive? Yes, all are the effects of the curse of corruption and sin our world is under.
BUT! Jesus Christ came to break that curse, and because of His finished work on the cross, “He comes to make His blessings flow,” just as the song proclaims. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, "cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13 KJV). Jesus broke the curse through His death, and right now, in your destitute situation, loneliness, terminal disease, hopelessness, and trouble, He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found in your life!
Are you cursed with heart disease? Perhaps generation after generation in your family has suffered heart attacks or strokes. Christ has given you, as a believer, His authority to BREAK that curse and end it for yourself and all future generations. Neurological diseases, curses of cancer, and mental illness can all be broken in the Name of Jesus Christ because He was made a curse for us.
If you’re reading this, you’re alive and haven’t died for anyone, but Jesus died for everyone. He is gone, but He left enough resurrection power to break any curses. How far is the curse found in your life? Are there generational problems that keep resurfacing?
A family I know has a history of suicides in the men, generation after generation. That is a curse. My sisters and I have broken that curse of suicide in the family, coming against it with the Name of Jesus Christ, and there have been no more suicides in many years. Perhaps cancer or epilepsy plagues the generations of your family...or poverty. Jesus died to break all those curses.
The hope we have this Christmas and throughout the year is that no matter how far a curse is found around us or in our corner of the world, part of Christ’s unique gift is His power to stand up to such curses and break the evil that they cause. He comes—right here, right now-- to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found!
Revelation 22:3 describes a spectacular scene from Heaven: No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship Him. Jesus Christ truly IS a Joy to the World!!
© 2022, Chris Werre