Sabbath Meditation #5 – The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
“6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:6-7).
“13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14).
“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).
In last month’s Sabbath meditation, we developed the concept that the Sabbath has something to offer us that is greater than our physical reality. No manna fell on this day in the wilderness. Rest from the physical labor of creating is a central element to honoring it. It is the only day fashioned by the act of rest instead of work.
There are two times in Isaiah where the Sabbath is associated with joy or delight. This is different than the fruit of the Spirit which goes by the same name. In general, the spiritual fruit of joy is the understanding that your life has purpose in God’s Kingdom. What kind of joy manifests by honoring the Sabbath?
Nehemiah wrote that the joy of the Lord is your strength. He did not say that human joy gives us strength – it is only the Lord’s joy that empowers us. The Sabbath joy is not of human origin – it is a joy from above. On the seventh day, the Holy Spirit within us connects to the presence of God’s rest.
It is the joy that God works all things out for those that love Him. Those things in life that we cannot control and are beyond our understanding – we can have joy that a mind greater than our own will take care of it. What joy we have to know that God is working on our behalf through rest those things which we cannot work out through labor! This empowers you to persevere in difficult circumstances.
If we will allow this joy to manifest in our lives, it will reinvigorate our faith and boldness for Him. His joy will help us overcome spiritual sluggishness.
This means ministers are helpers of joy on the Sabbath. “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand” (2 Cor. 1:24).
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).
His joy is your support; it refreshes your weary soul like a stream of water; it gives a fuller meaning to your life.
Rest from your labors and rest in Him. Receive the joy that is yours as a son or daughter of His covenant. Rest your mind in the joy that we can eternally trust in God. He is infinitely trustworthy and reliable.
His joy creates a strength in you that helps you to endure, persevere, and be faithful.
Kelly McDonald, Jr