What Makes God Happy?
Jeremiah 9:23, 24
My mother was so excited she could hardly sleep.
It was Christmas and it was our family tradition to open gifts on Christmas morning.
As usual, I was excited about the gifts I would get from my parents and also the gifts we would get from Canada Packers, which was where my dad worked.
But I suspect that I was not nearly as excited as my mom and her excitement was in the opposite direction.
She was not looking forward to what she would get, but to giving a gift.
She had secretly found a gift for my father that she knew he would absolutely love.
You see, she knew what made him happy.
He loved hunting and she had purchased a gun for him.
She was excited because she knew that by giving him the gun she would make him happy.
Do we know what makes God happy or is it a mystery?
If we look for this idea in the Bible, we will find that it is not a mystery.
Several times we find the phrase “I delight” written about God.
We find that God delights in His people and a number of times it says that he delights in His chosen one.
Among these passages is one that is very interesting and has some significant implications for us.
In Jeremiah 9:24b we read, “…for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.
What is it that makes God happy?
Let’s read the rest of the passage, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”
What are the implications of knowing what makes God happy?
If we think about how we respond if we know what makes another person happy, there are certain things that will be true in our relationship.
We know what to expect from them.
I never have to ask Carla if we can go visit our children because I know that makes her happy.
So if the kids phone and ask if we can come over, or if they can come over, I don’t even check with Carla, I just say “yes.”
We also know how to please them.
Often when I look for people to serve in some specific thing in the church, for example, telling a children’s story, I know that there are some people who have great joy in it and I will get a positive response because I know they like doing it.
What kinds of things do we think about if we know what God delights in?
As we examine Jeremiah 9:23, 24, I would like to focus particularly on the thought of what we can expect from God if we know what makes Him happy.
In the midst of a section of Jeremiah where God has warned the people of coming destruction because of the sin of the people, we have this very encouraging word about what we can expect from God and how we can respond to Him because of what we can expect.
Cathy Lunn-Grossman wrote an article entitled, "American's Image of God Varies," in USAToday.com in 2006; reporting that in September of 2006, sociologists from Baylor University released the results of a study looking into America's different views of God.
Part of the study was a survey conducted by the Gallup organization, which identified four distinct views of God's personality and interaction with the world.
According to the survey 31.4% believed that God is an "Authoritarian God" who is "angry at humanity's sins and engaged in every creature's life and world affairs."
Another 23 percent believed in a "Benevolent God" who is forgiving and accepting of anyone who repents.
There were also 16 percent who believed in a "Critical God" who "has his judgmental eye on the world, but he's not going to intervene, either to punish or comfort.
And 24.4 % believed in a "Distant God" who is more of a "cosmic force that launched the world, then left it spinning on its own."
In Jeremiah 9:23, 24, God Himself tells us what He is like when He reveals to us what makes Him happy.
I. What Makes God Happy?
In the second part of Jeremiah 9:24, we learn two important things.
There are three things which God delights in, but not only does he delight in these things, but he also exercises them.
This is who God is, what makes Him happy and how He acts.
What makes God happy?
!! A. Loving Kindness
God delights in loving kindness.
The Hebrew word used here is a well known word used almost 300 times in the Old Testament.
It is the word “hesed.”
Some of you may have heard of the House of Hesed in Winnipeg which is a mission whose purpose is “to provide a home for persons living with HIV~/AIDS, sharing mercy, hope, dignity, and peace.
Consistent with the Christian perspective of caring for those in need…” They have chosen the name House of Hesed because of their mission to share mercy and care for those in need.
God loves to show mercy, to be compassionate.
God has told us this so many times.
I John 4:8b says, “God is love.”
But God has not only told us this, He has also demonstrated it.
I John 4:9 goes on to say, “This is how God showed his love among us...”
The foundational reality of life for the children of Israel was their deliverance out of Egypt.
They were a slave nation in the midst of the people of Egypt.
They cried out to God for help and He sent Moses to deliver them.
It is practically unfathomable that one slave nation should be entirely removed from the midst of a master nation.
When he brought them out he delivered them through the Red Sea, he guided and provided for them through the wilderness.
He brought them to Sinai to enter into a covenant relationship with them and he brought them into the promised land.
All the way along, they were rebellious and disobedient, but God continued to work with them.
In this entire story we see how much God loves to show compassion.
The foundational reality of life for Christians is the deliverance from sin which God has brought through the death of Jesus Christ.
Every person on earth is steeped in sin and bound through sin to death.
God sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us.
He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.
He has given us forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ, the hope of eternal life and the beginning of that eternal life in the presence of His Spirit with all who trust in Him.
In this entire story we see how much God loves to show compassion.
!! B. Justice
God also delights in justice.
The word for justice comes from a word which has to do with ruling or governing.
In the “Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament” it says that this word refers to – “what is doubtless the most important idea for correct understanding of government (II p. 948).
Government includes three functions – legislative, executive and judicial.
When there is justice, those who make the laws – the legislators – will not play favorites.
They do not oppress one people in the nation and favor another.
Those who carry out the programs of the land are fully aware of all people and give each what is fair.
The judges know all justice and reflect it in their decisions.
If that is what justice means, what does it mean for the reign of God? Perhaps Psalm 146:7-9 expresses it well when it says, “He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”
This is sometimes tough for us to fathom.
How is God just when He allows a couple who have had difficulty conceiving to become pregnant but then that child miscarries?
How is God just when 6 million Jews are killed in the holocaust?
How is God just when evil men who earn millions off the drug trade live in luxury and ease?
What it tells us is that God does not delight in these things.
Abraham had a good understanding of that when he pleaded for Lot’s life when Sodom was about to be destroyed.
In Genesis 18:25 we read, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The wonder of the justice of God is revealed in the story of salvation.
If God is absolutely fair, it seems right that everyone who does wrong must be punished.
Since that is everyone, the sentence of death on every human being is justice.
But in His compassion God does not want everyone to die.
How can God exercise the compassion which is at the core of His being and still be just?
Romans 3:25, 26 tells us, “God presented Him(Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
God delights in justice!!
!! C. Righteousness
The third thing we learn is that God delights in righteousness.
What is the difference between justice and righteousness?
Justice could be described as fairness, whereas righteousness could be described as goodness.
One definition is that righteousness is that which is “ethically right.”
God is consistent with the standard of holiness which identifies Him as God.