+ False gladness
The Philistines rejoiced after they had arrested Samson and pulled his eyes out, humiliating him like an ox in the mill and bringing him in front of the crowd in their celebrations and joy. And they” gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: “Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy! ( Judges 16:23). But this was not a genuine and real joy, as their celebrations ended by their perdition” Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” ( Judges 16:28-30). My beloved, what about our celebrations and joy. How do we celebrate, where and with who?! What do we wear, eat and drink? What do we see and how do we express our contentment?! Is God present, or is his enemy; satan conducting the symphony in this evening?! I fear my brethren, if our celebrations is happening in the presence of ” Dagon “, who is a symbol of the devil, him who is and was a murderer of people since the beginning. And as the Philistines’ ceremony had ended by death, so would ours, for the joys of this world- which was put in the evil one- always ends by death. And death here isn’t the physical death but rather the literal one. The death that we feel inside of us, that fills us with bitterness, guilt and false joy that is on this land, that costs us money, time, fatigue and nervousness. Job summarizes it saying” That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment? Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, And his head reaches to the clouds” ( Job 20:5-6). Sometimes we rejoice when we extort what is not ours. This is also a false pleasure, that only last a moment. Let’s see what king Ahab and his wife Jezebel had done when the king wanted to take away Naboth’s vineyard that was next to the his. When Naboth refused to sell, Jezebel plotted an evil plan, and by false witness and lies Naboth of Jezreel was stoned to death. And after this demonic plan she ran to her husband with the good news” Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead” ( 1Kings 21:15). But the word of God was instant to Elijah” You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours.”’” So Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free. I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and made Israel sin.’ And concerning Jezebel the Lord also spoke, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. ( 1Kings 19-23). Beware, ripping people off causes false contentment, especially the needy and those who work for us. Let us fear God, for He is watching. Do not allow that your joy would be through unlawful money or relations, thinking unwisely that” Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” ( Proverbs 17:9). Then I say, woe to the joy that comes from delivering Christ and selling him with the lowest prices. Come and see the ugly joyful scene of the chief priests and Judas the traitor to deliver The Lord to slaughter” Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people” ( Luke 22:1-2). We all know how they all ended; Judas hanging himself and the Jews and their priests’ blood was mixed with their offerings by Titus the Roman who destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD.
+ The Joy of resurrection:
The Bible tells us that the disciples were glad to see The Lord ( John 20:20). Here we see a radical transformation from sadness and despair to indescribable joy and glory. The resurrection in the life of a believer is the power of true joy. Watch how Peter, who denied The Lord and cursed that he does not know Christ, this scared man with the disciples hiding behind locked doors, this same man and in front of thousands of Jews from all over the world, testified and bearded witness to the resurrection of The Lord, not only this but he offered his life for this testimony. The joy of resurrection overcomes fear and death. Listen to him Saying in the day of Pentecost in front of everyone” Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death… This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” ( Acts 2:22-32). We can not be witnesses to The Lord in our lives if we haven’t tasted the power of His joyful resurrection in us. This resurrection that we earned through our death, burial and resurrection with Him through baptism. ” buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” ( Colossians 2:12). Although the power of resurrection is in us, we have to always keep it active, by living our lives through loving faith every day. This comes by continuous submission to the Bible’s commandments and the life of repentance, confession and frequent communion. This makes us taste the joy of His resurrection in us” whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” ( 1 Peter 1:8). And the book says” Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts” ( Jeremiah 15:16). ” As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” ( John 6:57).
It is the new life that we taste by deserting sin and sinful pleasures, walking in the path of life not death, and enjoying our repentance and return to bosom of the Heavenly Father saying” Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me” ( Micah 7:8)….. ” Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”( Romans 6:4). He who has The Lord’s resurrection within, rejoices all the time especially when he gets to meet Him in His glory” Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! ( Philippians 4:4). And if we face the pain of this present time and the persecution of the evil one in this life because we are for Christ; we will hear what delights our hearts from Saint Peter the apostle saying” but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” ( 1 Peter 4:13). Christos Anesti …..Alithos Anesti.