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God is…Glad

May 18, 2011

From Mike Bickle’s book After God’s Own Heart: Becoming a David Generation

Here’s a question” How does God feel most of the time? Is he bored? Worried? Blase? Happy? Concerned? Detached? Engaged? Mad, glad, or sad? It sounds lighthearted, but it’s one of the most important questions of our entire spiritual journey. How does God feel when He looks at you? What wells up in His heart when His eyes turn upon your life? I have asked many people this question over the years, and they usually respond in one of two ways:

  • God is mostly mad.

  • God is mostly sad.  

And in both cases, they think it’s their fault. Many Christians believe very strongly that God is angry and grieved with each of us. In some parts of the body of Christ, this sentiment is expressed clearly and openly, but in most quarter it’s inarticulate. It’s one of those under-the-surface, sinister opinions everybody holds, but nobody talks about. God is viewed as distant, angry, sitting on the throne, and spending the bulk of His emotional energy being disappointed in mankind. We picture a weeping God who beats His breast and turns His eyes away from us in shame. But Scripture tells us the very opposite. Our God smiles and rejoices. His emotions fall into a third category:

  • God is mostly glad.

That is the only correct answer! Moses, under the prophetic anointing, made a stunning declaration about the Lord’s gladness: “The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand….For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers” (Deut. 30:9). In this passage, God was telling Moses that at the end of the age God will break forth with rejoicing over His people. He will reveal Himself to them as the glad God who overflows with delight and enjoyment. Instead of cowering at the feet of an angry God, the body of Christ will bask in the sunshine of His gladness.

This is the day we are living in!

If this picture of God seems impossible to you, scan the Word. Passages about God’s gladness abound throughout the Bible. For example, Zephaniah 3:17 reveals Him as One who rejoices: “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV). Imagine that! He will sing and rejoice over His people with gladness. he will quiet our stormy hearts with the revelation of His love. God’s songs over His people are not songs of anger but of rejoicing and tender love. In this passage, He is not just exhorting people to be glad, but he is promising to sing songs that make us glad. These songs reveal His affectionate heart for us. This isn’t just dry exhortation to be glad, but the experiential understanding of His gladness for us. That gladness is catching!

The rest of the Book of Zephaniah lays the backdrop for this divine promise. It describes the scenes a the end fo the age when everything that can be shaken is being shaken. In that day, men will literally die of heart attacks because of fear (Luke 21:26). Fear will be one of the predominant emotions worldwide. In the midst of this dramatic shaking, God promises that He will comfort and quiet His people by releasing songs of His affection and gladness. We will be calmed on the inside by this revelation. Intimacy with a glad God will nourish our souls and sustain the church in the midst of unprecedented calamity. Like a parent with a troubled child, God will sing love songs that soothe us and impart His delight to us.

I have already said I believe the greatest dimension of God’s glory is His emotions, and now we begin to see that central to His emotional life are His gladness and joy. This is what God communicated to Moses when he longed to see God’s glory. God promised to make known His glory and goodness to him by revealing His compassion (Exod. 33:18-19). Next, God declared His glory as being “the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands” (Exod. 34:6-7). Notice that when God reveals His glory, He emphasizes the glory of His emotions. As we enter into the reality of His happiness and joy, our hearts discover other emotions that abound in His heart. We begin to experience His desires for us, His beauty, and His pleasures. But we cannot skip the foundational step of understanding His gladness. We will not easily believe that God burns with desire for us or that he is exceedingly beautiful if we do not first believe that He is glad. It must be the foundation of our theology: our God is a God who smiles.

God’s heart is infinitely glad in the fellowship of the Trinity. Jesus perpetually rejoices before the Father. He describes Himself at Creation, saying, “Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov. 8:30). In this passage, Jesus, who is the personification of wisdom, was at the right hand of God the Father. In His wisdom, He possessed overflowing delight and gladness while He created. Scripture says God creates not out of duty or boredom but out of His pleasure (Rev. 4:11). A great ocean of delight resides within His personality. This is the God that holds us in His gaze and the God we gaze upon and behold. And He is, above all, glad.

If at the center of your theology is a God who smiles, then it is not hard to understand this next truth about Him: He is smiling at you as you respond to Him in willing obedience. His infinite smile extends over His creation. he is delighted in Himself and in the overflow of that delight, but He especially enjoys humans who respond to the grace He offered freely in Christ Jesus. This applies to each of us individually and uniquely. God has affection and enjoyment for you even at your weakest point.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. –Psalm 149:4

He actually enjoys you! What a powerful concept! Not only does He smile, but He also smiles when He looks at you! Most people struggle to imagine this because they never quite grasp the first premise: that He is a smiling God. They only perceive a God who frowns with disappointment most of the time. When they hear that He is smiling and rejoicing over them, it’s like the words mean nothing to them. The truth goes right over their heads. They can’t reconcile this with their picture of a dour Deity who turns his eyes on them and scowls.

In Proverbs 8:31 Jesus describes Himself as One rejoicing in the inhabited world and experiencing delight in the sons of men. Though His delight in us is so clearly stated in Scripture, we find ourselves like the prodigal son who was confused by his father’s overwhelming delight: we stand at a distance, not knowing how to receive it. It’s more logical and comfortable for us to bring our list of failures and then plead for a low position in His kingdom. Yet instead of negotiating with us, He embraces us with unabashed affection and covers us with the royal robe of righteousness. He celebrates you or me as His child and throws a party in our honor. This is the God we serve. This is who He is regardless of what we do.

My heart sings knowing this. Amen.

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