“Gladness is taken away, and joy from the plentiful field; in the vineyards there will be no singing, nor will there be shouting; no treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease.” (Is. 16:10)
Here Yahweh describes the desolation that is falling on Moab, but it is a desolation that the Lord Himself mourns over. Here, in particular, seems to be the climax of the destruction. There has been great weeping and wailing, there has been death and destruction, and here finally there is no gladness at all. From the wheat fields to the vineyards there is no shouting, no singing, no gladness. As Pastor Leithart has pointed out, it is particularly striking how much sympathy the Lord has for these gentiles, these pagans, this wicked nation. But even this is but a small picture of God’s love for the world, for sinners, for His enemies. The cross itself is the great lamentation of God for the desolation of the world. The death of Christ is where God drenched the earth with His tears. But it was not merely a death of sorrow, it was also a death of justice. In the cross, God both displayed His sorrow and anger over sin and death, and simultaneously acted to undo it, to break its power. And when Jesus rose up victorious, death had been swallowed up in victory. We live in a world that pretends to be happy, that pretends to have joy and gladness. We have bars and taverns and clubs that are the temples of modern society. There, you gather with friends; there, sacramental food and drinks are shared. There, confession is made, and pseudo forgiveness is declared. There is singing and a kind of gladness and shouting. But it is empty and destructive. And you can tell because of what it does to the people that worship in those temples. They are struck with confusion and drunkenness. Relationships are broken, fights break out, women are mistreated and abused, and children are neglected and ignored. But Jesus died for losers. Jesus bled and died for the ungodly. Jesus came for prostitutes and drug dealers and alcoholics, and here God offers true life, real gladness, and here we have the fruit of the fields and the fruit of the vineyards. Here we share bread and wine, here we fellowship in true community, and here God promises true forgiveness. And this is why worship should be loud, full of shouting and singing and joy. Gladness is loud, and the hurting need to know where the real party is.