"Your Words were found, and I ate them, and Your Words became a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your Name, O YHVH, Lord of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16
Fullness of Joy
by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
For most of my life, joy has escaped me. It has eluded me because, like most, I was looking for an emotion, a feeling associated with that of mirth, gaiety, happiness or pleasure - which, indeed, is the very definition Strong's gives to the Hebrew word simchah (translated in English as "joy" - click on highlighted words to view content) in the verse from Psalm 16 above. But, as we have been seeing in recent articles, Hebrew words often carry a spectrum of meanings depending on the context they are used in. Words mean things. The way to properly understand scripture is context, context, context - we must always consider the context the scriptures are presented in, the context of the Hebrew perspective they are presented from and the context of the Hebrew words the way the Hebrew audience they were spoken to would understand them. By observing the words we are given in this manner allows scripture to interpret scripture instead of allowing them to be reduced into the theological tradition of men. Thus, we find the "joy" spoken of in both the Original and Messianic Writings to be something other than an emotional "giddiness".
|"…for the joy of YHVH is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10|
In this often quoted verse, we find a different Hebrew word, chedvah, also translated as the English "joy". This rare word is only used twice in all of scripture to denote a direct connection to YHVH - here and in 1Chronicles 16:27 ("strength and joy - gladness - are in His Place"). While simchah is clearly associated with human emotions and actions, chedvah seems to be the exclusive possession of YHVH Himself. This makes chedvah all the more important - if chedvat YHVH is our strength, then we should know what it means.
So, then, what is "the joy of YHVH"? What can it mean to suggest that the Father Himself experiences joy - and that this is the basis of our strength? The text doesn’t offer much help since the word occurs only twice. We will have to look deeper. The Paleo-Hebrew pictograph provides a clue. Chedvah is a noun derived from the verb hadah. The consonants are chet-dalet-hey. The chet is shown as a wall or fence. The dalet is shown as a door. This is an interesting character because in ancient Hebrew culture, to pass through a doorway was an act of coming into covenant with the leader of the home. So not only does dalet represent "a way in," but it is also considered a way into covenant with someone. Together, the picture they present is "behold, a door in the fence." Now we can see what the joy of YHVH is. It is the gladness of providing a door in the fence to enter into covenant with Him - a path for coming into His Presence! What cheers YHVH? - a way to partake of His Divine Nature. YHVH rejoices that there is a door for us to come into fellowship with Him. We are not shut out for He has provided a way in. The joy of YHVH is that He is able to fellowship with us! It is helpful to notice that the context of the entire chapter of Nehemiah 8 is the proclamation of keeping YHVH's Words, His Instructions given to His Family. It is through the keeping of His Covenant, His Words that we are able to enter into fellowship with Him and experience His Joy.
Did you notice that none of this joy requires our efforts? The chedvat YHVH exists because He made a way! "Enter into the joy of your Master" in Matthew 25:21 is connected to the joy of YHVH. So now we see that the deepest sense of joy is not about what we do in glee but is about the gift YHVH gives - an open door. The privilege to enter into harmony with YHVH is our strength. No other creature in all creation has this privilege. There is no other door except the one He provides. This should make our hearts leap with gratitude and rejoicing. Our strength is His provision.
|"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, JUST AS I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:8-11|
Whether YHVH summarizes holiness in a single commandment as with Adam, in the constitution of a nation as with Moses, or in the expression of His Life as exampled by Yeshua, the requirement for abiding in His Presence has always been the same - obedience to His Words. "IF you will obey My voice and IF you will attend to My instructions by following them, THEN will you be My Holy People and THEN will you abide in the Presence of the Eternal One - the Source of LIFE" (Exodus 19:5-6, Matthew 19:16-19).
When Moses asked YHVH to "show me your Glory" in Exodus 33:18-19, the next chapter shows YHVH answering that request by proclaiming "the Name". The Name of YHVH is found manifested in His Nature. So, when Yeshua said He "manifested YHVH's Name" in John 17:6, the characteristics He was speaking of can be found in Exodus 34:5-7. If you look at the wording used in describing His Name, His Glory in that passage from Exodus, you find them similarly listed again in Galatians 5:22-23 and described as the "fruit of the Spirit" - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. These are the Nature of Spirit (and collectively, there is only one "fruit"). Too often, we tend to confuse these attributes with feeling. While the first three do have some associative feeling most of us can relate to, if you look at the rest - there is no "feeling" or emotion that can be associated with them whatsoever. No one has ever "felt" longsuffering for instance. Longsuffering (or patience) is something you "do", not something you "feel". You suffer, or endure something for a long while. Faithfulness is just that - BEING faithful in the middle of adverse circumstances that would strain the credibility of His Goodness. Self-control is something you just "exercise." If we realize that love, joy and peace are just as much "do" actions as the rest, we see that these all are just choices we make in the middle of whatever circumstances are presented us.
As mentioned above, the Hebrew simchah is the word most often translated "joy." But that doesn't mean it is what we think joy is. You see, the Hebrew idea of joy is not an abstract concept floating around in a world of ideas. Almost always simchah is expressed in concrete actions, not in theoretical definitions. Joy is the experience of frisking about, clapping, dancing, shouting, experiencing the rewards of patience, finding peace, doing justice, producing righteousness. In other words, in Hebrew thought joy does not exist independently of the experiences that bring about the feelings of joy. Joy is in the frisking, clapping, dancing, shouting. It can't be defined as something in addition to the experience. It IS the experience. Joy is attached to the act, not separate from it. It's disconcerting to see that the Greek world even attempts to understand joy apart from the intensity of life. So - do life. Do it with all the energy you can muster. Do it deliberately. And feel life flowing through you.
|"…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…" Romans 5:3|
This is how are we able to DO joy in the middle of un-joyful circumstances. We REjoice as an exercise, a manifestation of our belief, our faith in the Goodness of Who YHVH says He Is. You DO joy by REjoicing as a proclamation of the Truth of His Presence in the midst of the circumstances surrounding you - regardless of what they may look like, not motivated by feelings. As we exercise our faith by the choice of our actions in the middle of the circumstance, we DO Life - because that is Who He Is.
This is how those of the faith can rejoice in their tribulations because they know that their witness to the truth and grace of YHVH found in the manifestation of His Name in their midst will bring redemption and restoration to those who observe the Truth of their message. The joy is in the message, not in the audience. It is the message that contains the Power of resurrected living. It is the message that conveys the faithfulness of YHVH. It is the message that answers the pleas of the desperate and is fulfilled when the message is delivered. It doesn't matter what personal effects result. Rejoicing comes as the act of believing that message - regardless of circumstances. Paul is celebrating the good news that the Kingdom has come. Rejoicing in our hope of glory and to glory in our tribulation IS to manifest His Name in this earthly realm.
You and I may suffer because of this good news. We may be rejected, scorned, misunderstood, persecuted, and even killed. But it is still good news and it is still worth rejoicing over. What happens to those who follow matters not. No trials or tribulations will diminish one iota the glorious message, now cast as the cornerstone. Nothing can defeat it again since death itself has been overcome. And that is really something to rejoice over - to shout about.
"The meek shall obtain
in YHVH, and the poor among mankind|
shall exult in the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 29:19
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.