He rules the world with truth and grace,“He rules the world with truth and grace.” Somehow, this seems an understatement. Abraham asked, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen.18:25). The implication is, “of course!” Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is The Truth. In Isaiah we read, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isa. 9:6-7). We have seen that truth and justice are not the operating mode of America, but they are ever-present in God’s government. He is not merely truthful; He is Truth. He is the essence of integrity.
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.
“Truth and grace,” the song says. We can only begin to sing the wonders of God’s grace. Paul says in Rom. 9:14-16 that there is no injustice in God, but all of salvation is completely dependent on God’s mercy. Paul claims that it is the grace of God that made him what he was (1 Cor. 15:10), a laborer for Christ. In Eph. 1:5-6 we read that God “predestined us to adoption as sons” according to His own kind intentions “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” We know from Eph. 2:8-9 that our salvation occurs by grace, and in Titus 3:7 he merges the two concepts, saying that we are “justified by His grace that we might be made heirs.” Grace, in fact, is the focal point of our lives, according to Peter. We are to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4:10).
The hymn goes on to say, “and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.” First, I’m fascinated by the phrase, “makes the nations prove.” It is this same concept in mind in Rom. 12:2. Paul says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can “prove what the will of God is”. The concept is also carried forward in both the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah quotes God as saying, “To me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isa. 45:23). Paul echoes the prophet in Rom. 14:11 when he says, “It is written . . .” But in Phil. 2:9-11, he more fully explains the process. “God highly exalted Him (Christ), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Although we are currently in rebellion, there will not be a rebel on the Day of Judgment. There will only be rejoicing or acquiescence.
What will the nations prove? The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.
We don’t seem to recognize the glory of righteousness. We see the wickedness of sins. We despise the evils we read and hear about on the news daily. But just as we don’t recognize the depths and horror of sin in our own lives, we don’t seem to grasp that righteousness is glorious. Those who appear to be righteous we ridicule as “goody goodies”. We almost revel in our humanity, our fallenness. Who hasn’t said, “Nobody’s perfect?” We all know the phrase, “to err is human.” What is the completion of that phrase? “To forgive, divine.” But the song says we will all prove the glory of His righteousness. Prov. 14:34 says that righteousness exalts a nation. Isaiah says that God makes righteousness the standard by which all else is measured (Isa. 28:17). Elihu warned Job that his righteousness could never exceed God’s (Job 35:2). The Psalms love to proclaim the righteousness of God (Psa. 7:17; 9:8; 22:31; 35:28; 36:6; etc.).
Nor can we comprehend the wonders of His love. Paul’s fervent prayer for the church at Ephesus was “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19). John says that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). In that statement of love as an attribute of God, we see that all God is and all that God does is tied up in love. That is, in His grace, He is loving; in His wrath, He is loving; in His mercy, He is loving; in His justice, He is loving. Now that is a wonder. Who can comprehend that kind of love, the kind that expresses itself in the midst of hate (Rom. 5:8)? Who can understand a love that cannot be broken (Rom. 8:38-39), that is new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23)? God will make the nations prove, that is, demonstrate, all this.
Joy is to be the way of life for us. Joy should mark our paths. The joy of the Lord shouldn’t be “in our hearts”, but in our lives displayed. We have a King, a ruling Savior, who is adored by nature itself, who will free us from the very essence of sin. We have been saved from slavery to sin! We have a Sovereign who rules with integrity and unmerited favor, who is the highest example of righteousness, and who loves us beyond our comprehension. It is the coming of this King that we celebrate at Christmas. JOY TO THE WORLD!