Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9 | 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 | John 20:1-18
Text: Zechariah 6:1-8
Joy Comes with the Morning
Some of us are not “morning people.” I am, but others look at me like I’m weird. If we had an Easter Sunrise service at 6am, I’m afraid I might be the only one here! Now, we might have trouble getting ourselves out of bed early, but apparently God is a morning person.
According to God, the morning is not a time for groaning or scowling, but the morning is a time for rejoicing. Psalm 30:5 is an inspired Word of the Lord and it says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I want to reflect on that last bit. Joy comes with the morning.
Examples of Morning Joy
Why would anyone rejoice early in the morning?
Well, you might rejoice in the morning, because God has saved you from your enemies. Consider the Israelites. They were slaves in Egypt, but Yahweh sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Let my people go!” When Pharaoh refused, Yahweh sent plague after plague to punish the Egyptians. Finally, Pharaoh released the Israelites. When the Israelites were gone, Pharaoh changed his mind. His chariots pursued Israel to the edge of the sea.
What did God do? He split the sea in two, so that Israel could pass through to the other side. Then, when the Egyptians pursued them through the sea, God closed the sea and drowned the Egyptians. According to Exodus 14:27, God drowned the Egyptians when the morning sun appeared. Joy comes with the morning!
Then, the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai. According to Exodus 19:16-17, Yahweh appeared to the people on the morning of the third day. He made a covenant with these people. He became their God. Joy comes with the morning.
Many years later, the Israelite army rose on the seventh day (Josh. 6:15). They got up early in the morning. Why would they get out of bed so early? They got up to march around Jericho and they witnessed God knock down the mighty walls. Joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 46:5 says, “God shall help Zion, just at the break of dawn.” Lamentations 3:22-23 delivers these comforting words: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Yes, it is clear that God likes showing grace to his people in the morning. And his grace fills us with joy.
In the final vision of Zechariah, the prophet sees two mountains that are the color of bronze. Many scholars think that the mountains have a bronze appearance because it is the early dawn. The golden sun is peeking over the hills and shining upon them.
Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains. And the mountains were mountains of bronze. 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black horses, 3 the third white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong. 4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 And the angel answered and said to me, “These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The chariot with the black horses goes toward the north country, the white ones go after them, and the dappled ones go toward the south country.” 7 When the strong horses came out, they were impatient to go and patrol the earth. And he said, “Go, patrol the earth.” So they patrolled the earth. 8 Then he cried to me, “Behold, those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest in the north country.” (Zech. 6:1-8)
We know that Zechariah chapters 1-6 contain a series of visions. These visions were given to the prophet in a single night. So, it would make sense that the final vision happens early in the morning.
What happens in this vision? At dawn the chariots of God go into the north and south to put down the enemies of God, so that the Spirit of God can rest. In the first vision, the enemies of God were resting (Zech. 1:11). In this vision, the Spirit rests. Also, at dawn the high priest is given a crown as a sign that the Branch will come (but you’ll have to wait till the divine service to hear about that!). This Branch is a Man, who is both Priest and King.
Early in the morning, Zechariah sees the victory of God. And he is told about the One who will achieve this victory—Jesus Christ, the final High Priest and eternal King. Of course, God delivers this Gospel in the morning. Joy always comes with the morning!
The Resurrection of Jesus
We know that very early in the morning some women visited a tomb. They were shocked to see that the tomb had been open. They were horrified when they saw that the body was gone. They came to anoint the body of Jesus, who was crucified, but who had taken him away?
Angels tried to deliver the good news to these women. Jesus was once dead and buried here, but no longer. He is risen! Jesus lives! Joy comes with the morning!
Then, Jesus himself appears to the women. He was once a corpse, but now he stands before them. Nails were driven into his hands. Indeed, they still bear the scars, but his hands are no longer pale, cold, and lifeless. They are flushed with color, warm to the touch, and they wipe away the tears of the women. Joy comes with the morning!
The world tried to kill Jesus, but Jesus broke death’s power. He took away the world’s greatest weapon. He conquered the world that killed him, disarming the world. The world might threaten you with death, but these are empty threats. The martyrs will be resurrected and granted the crown of life. Joy comes with the morning!
The Father raised Jesus from the dead. In doing so, the Father appointed Jesus as our High Priest and our King. Now, we have a Man who intercedes for us always. Now, the One who rules the cosmos shares our flesh and blood and he cares for his brothers. My friends, truly joy comes with the morning!
Many people don’t wake up easily. Some mornings, even I don’t want to leave my warm bed when it is dark and cold. Give me some time and coffee before I’m ready to face the day.
On the other hand, I am a Christian. As a Christian, I am definitely a morning person, because that is when God brings joy. And I cannot wait for the dawning of the eternal day, when I will see my risen Lord and experience the fullness of salvation. Joy will come with the morning and will never end! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
~ Original sermon by Rev. Alexander Lange ~