Jonathan Edwards said, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” Oh, what a glorious truth!
This truth is the message of the Bible to humans in a nutshell. This was the glory of the Edenic garden. Its eclipse was the tragedy of the fall from grace. This has always been at the heart of true, saving faith in all the saints, old and new covenant. This truth was the core issue in ancient Israel’s most glorious and most disgraceful moments. And restoring lost people’s ability to see and believe this truth is at the heart of why Jesus came, died, and rose again. He came to bring us to God, our exceeding joy (1 Peter 3:18; Psalm 43:4).
Our souls are meant to enjoy God supremely and all else in him. This truth will give every pleasure we enjoy fully forever the substance of its exquisite sweetness (Psalm 16:11).
God Is the Sun
Edwards said that everything else that bring us happiness in this age, “the most pleasant accommodations . . . fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the Sun.”
God is the sun. Understanding this reality makes all reality understandable.
The sun is not God, as some of the ancients mistook. But the sun tells us of God. Its refrain in the heavenly oratory of God’s glory (Psalm 19:1-2) is, “God is the sun! In his light we see light!” (Psalm 36:9).
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Deadly Planets Without a Sun
Our sun holds its planets in orbit with incomprehensible gravitational power and gives miraculous, abundant life to planet Earth.
But what would happen if the Earth decided it no longer wished to orbit the sun, but launched off on its own course to seek its life from other sources? What if it believed that the voluptuous, eroticism of Venus would slake its craving? What if it believed the key to its joy was in wielding the scepter of power it thought Jupiter possessed? What if Earth believed that venerating Saturn really would unlock the secret to its soil’s wealth-producing, future-securing fertility?
What would happen is that the sun-giving life of Earth would die and all of Earth’s pregnant hopes of finding satisfaction in Saturn (money), Venus (sex), and Jupiter (power) would be stillborn.
And this of course is the human condition. We have exchanged the sun for the empty promise of barren planets.
“What’s wrong with us at root [is] that instead of putting the worth of God on display with our money, sex, and power, we, by nature, actually make him disappear, as if the Creator and Sustainer of everything were inconsequential.” (Money, Sex, & Power: Living in the Light, p. 21)
It isn’t that money, sex, and power are evils. In their proper orbits, they are glorious. But if we reject the sun and pull these planetary glories from their orbits to either serve as our suns or orbit around our darkened desires, they turn deadly. Our moral universe is thrown into destructive chaos and all our pursuits of sunlit happiness end in dark, barren misery.
“The Bible shows us another way. When [Jesus Christ] takes his glorious place at the center of the solar system of our lives, the massive pull of his all-satisfying beauty corrects the erratic path of every planet, and makes the whole system sing with joy.” (Money, Sex, & Power: Living in the Light, p. 149)
Live in the Light of the Sun of Joy
Yes! “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) and he makes the morning stars all sing for joy (Job 38:7)! Do you hear them?
O Sun of righteousness, grant ears to hear!
Hear the sun silently shout as its life-giving light floods and feeds the Earth, “God is the sun! In his light we see light! Wealthy Saturn, erotic Venus, and powerful Jupiter are all glorious in their proper orbits, but barren and deadly as surrogate suns. God is the Sun of joy! Live in his light!”
Not just the sun, but the whole cosmic chorus of general revelation sings that Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), the life that is the light of men (John 1:4). And all in beautiful harmony with the song special revelation sings from beginning to end.
Come, live in the light of the Sun of Joy! For “the enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.”
Money, sex, and power. The world tends to worship them. And yet God made us to enjoy them.
In this book, John Piper helps us discover how to keep these three dangerous opportunities in the orbits that they were designed for, experiencing them in a way that satisfies you, serves the world, and glorifies God.