Joy to the World is a great song about the reign of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Though normally thought of as a Christmas song, it is more accurately a song of advent, a song of preparation or the second coming of our King. Verse 2 begins with the words, “Joy to the world, the Savior reigns.” Jesus is our eternal King who reigns forever and ever, but when He was born and placed in a manger He was put in the most vulnerable position – an infant baby. At this point, Jesus had not yet died and rose again. He was not yet seated again at God’s right hand.
Joy to the world is a difficult thing to sing when we look around at a world that is so broken. War and injustice run rampant. Sickness and disease are common place. Yet, through all of this “heaven and nature sing” praises to our heavenly Lord, the “fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy” of the Lord. It is easy to view joy and happiness as the same thing; they are not the same. Joy is commanded, happiness is not. Sometimes it is impossible to find happiness in our lives and in the world. Joy, however, is something we must choose daily. We are called, even in the worst times of persecution, to find joy – not happiness or gladness, but joy.
This song is urging humanity to joyfully proclaim that Christ is Lord in the midst of the world’s brokenness and continue to prepare for His second coming. “Let every heart prepare Him room” speaks to the verse in Philippians 2 that says, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Our God is coming again to live with mankind – it is our job, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to ready our hearts for His coming.
Verse 3 speaks to the eternal kingdom and renewed state of creation: “no more let sin and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground.” Creation that was cursed in Genesis 3 will be made new- cleansed of the curse, sin, thorns, and sorrow. The whole of this life is pointing towards the return of the King.