The Blessed People of God

“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.”
—Psalm 89:15

THE LORD, THROUGHOUT his Word, has given expression in many ways to the manner in which he would manifest his blessing toward his faithful people. To his typical people, Israel, who had entered into a covenant with him based upon the Law given at Mt. Sinai, the promise was made—conditional upon their faithfulness—“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. … The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”—Deut. 28:3-8

In a promise to those who will enter into the earthly blessings of ‘restitution’ (Acts 3:21), following the ‘time of trouble’ (Dan. 12:1), the promise is given, “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth.” (Ps. 41:1,2) Again, to the restitution class who bow in obedience to earth’s new King, the promise is, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”—Ps. 2:12


To the Lord’s people of the present Gospel Age—the footstep followers of the Master—there are also promises of ‘blessing.’ Many of them, in fact, and a consideration of these beatitudes reveals the wonderful manner in which the Lord is bestowing his favor upon us. This should awaken in us a stronger determination than ever to respond to his goodness with our whole heart, and joyfully to lay down our lives in his service.

David wrote: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Ps. 32:1,2) This blessed state in which we become assured that our sins are forgiven, and that our iniquity is not imputed unto us means that we have been favored with a knowledge of the plan of God. This plan tells of the condemnation and fall of man, and of the wonderful provision of redemption through Christ. We have responded to this expression of Divine love by consecrating ourselves fully to do the Lord’s will.

Such a consecration is described by Peter as the “answer of a good conscience toward God.” (I Pet. 3:21) It means that our spirit has been without ‘guile,’ that is, sincere, gladly acknowledging our undone condition and our need for the provision of Divine grace through Christ. It is akin to ‘poorness of spirit,’ as mentioned by Jesus; and concerning those who manifest such a spirit when the truth reaches them, the Master said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. 5:3

Jesus outlined a number of other blessings which his faithful followers were to enjoy. He said, “Blessed are they that mourn: [in the sense that Jesus mourned—that is, sympathetically for others] for they shall be comforted [because, in their sympathetic help to others, they themselves are the most richly blessed]. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth [that is, together with Jesus, as ministers of reconciliation, it is their privilege to reconcile all mankind to God, restoring the lost dominion to the blessed of the Father on the human plane]. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness [whose spirit is without guile]: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God [through the glorious vision of truth now, and if faithful even unto death, actually, beyond the veil]. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God, [“and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 8:17)] Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. 5:4-10


Perhaps the most comprehensive of all the ‘blessings’ which the Scriptures confer upon spiritual Israel is the one mentioned in our text; that is, the blessing of walking in the light of the Lord’s countenance. This thought is enlarged in a benediction upon fleshly Israel when Moses said to them: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”—Num. 6:24-26

This means that those who are thus blessed are the Lord’s favored people, those whom he has taken into his confidence, and to whom he has revealed the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 13:11) Those who are thus privileged to walk in the light of the Lord’s countenance “delight in the Law of the Lord,” and to them it is their meditation “day and night.” These are the ones of whom the psalmist wrote: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”—Ps. 1:1,2

‘Blessed’ indeed were those living in any age of the Divine plan whom the Lord favored with a knowledge of his will and plan for the time in which they lived. Noah was thus blessed with a knowledge of the coming Flood, and when it came he was instructed how to prepare for his own salvation and that of his family. Moses was taken into the Lord’s confidence and blessed with a knowledge of the Divine will for Israel at that time. Each of the holy prophets was blessed with the privilege of walking in the light of the Lord’s countenance. John the Baptist was the last of these, and was favored with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus.

Jesus enjoyed the inspiring light of his Heavenly Father’s smile. In prayer to his Father he said, “I knew that thou hearest me always.”(John 11:42) What a blessed assurance this was, and we know that Jesus was not only blessed by the light of his Father’s countenance, but also strengthened and guided by it. This enabled him to always do the things which pleased his God.

The apostles and other faithful ones in the Early Church likewise walked in the light of the Lord’s countenance, and how they rejoiced in thus being blessed! There was no uncertainty in their minds as to their standing with the Lord. They knew that they had been called “out of darkness” into his “marvellous light.” (I Pet. 2:9) They knew that the Lord had shined into their hearts by the Gospel, and they accepted this as proof that they were the blessed people of God, and that his favor was upon them. The Lord blessed them “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.”—Eph. 1:3


Our text indicates that those who are privileged to walk in the light of the Lord’s countenance know the ‘joyful sound.’ This expression is symbolic of the Bible’s Gospel theme, “the Gospel of Christ,” which is “the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16) It is the inspiring message proclaimed by the angels on the night that Jesus was born, and declared to be “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”—Luke 2:10

‘The joyful sound’ which is so ‘blessed’ is the ‘truth.’ But these expressions are used by many people who claim to know what they mean, yet they have widely divergent viewpoints. Many profess to know the glad tidings of salvation, yet insist that God will torture the vast majority of the human race eternally in a burning hell. How can these know the ‘joyful’ sound?

Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) This question was asked in reply to Jesus’ assertion that he had come into the world to be a king, and to bear witness to the truth. Jesus did not answer Pilate’s question directly, knowing that it was not given to Pilate to understand the mysteries of the kingdom—to know the joyful sound. However, when, in his prayer in the ‘upper room’ the night before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his Father on behalf of his disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth,” he added the explanation, “thy Word is truth.”—John 17:17

The ‘Word’ of God referred to by Jesus was the Old Testament Scriptures—the only written ‘Word’ then in existence. Later it would include the New Testament Scriptures, for these serve to unlock, to reveal, the true meaning of what had been written by God’s holy prophets. In the Word of God, which Jesus declared to be the truth, there are many details concerning prophecies and promises. There are types and symbolisms. In the study of these, earnest students have reached various and conflicting conclusions. Is it possible to sort out from these conclusions that which we can confidently call the ‘truth’?

To approach the problem from this standpoint would be an endless task, and would lead only to additional confusion. A better plan is to let God be his own interpreter, for we can depend upon him to make the matter plain to those who are walking in the light of his countenance. We do not mean that God will speak to us audibly, or by special visions, or revelations. This is not necessary, for he has spoken to us through his prophets, and in the New Testament has summarized for us the general meaning of the prophetic testimony.

As all know, there is much detail of expression in the New Testament. In the teachings of Jesus we have parables, prophecies, admonitions, promises, and warnings. The same is true of the apostolic teachings. How are we to glean from all these details that which alone constitutes the great Gospel theme of the Bible—the ‘joyful sound’ by which the true people of God are blessed?

Among all the rich and inspiring details of the New Testament, occasional statements can be found which are in the nature of inspired summaries of what God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets. These summations of the prophetic testimony furnish us with a clear understanding and positive conviction of what constitutes ‘truth.’


One very comprehensive summary of the prophecies given to us by Peter speaks of “your faith,” and declares it to be “salvation.” (I Pet. 1:9-11) But what does this mean? Peter explains that even the prophets inquired about this, that they searched diligently in an effort to discover when the salvation they wrote about would come to the people.

Peter continues to summarize the testimony of the prophets, saying that “it [the Spirit operating in them] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (vs. 11) Peter says that, in the prophetic testimony concerning the sufferings and the glory of Christ, the prophets recognized an assurance of salvation for the church class. The prophets did not discover when this salvation would be attained by the people of God, but in verses 7 and 13 of this chapter, the apostle explains that it was to be “at the revelation of Jesus Christ”—a definite reference to the time of his Second Advent.

What was it, then, according to Peter’s inspired explanation, that the prophets wrote about? Their theme, the ‘end’ of all their messages, was ‘salvation,’ and in order for salvation to be available Christ must come, suffer, and die as the world’s Redeemer, and afterward enter into ‘glory.’ All the prophets foretold the coming of a great One who would be called Christ. Messiah is the Hebrew word which means the ‘anointed of God,’ or one whom God would authorize and empower to accomplish his purpose toward his human creation—to bring salvation.

The Old Testament Scriptures contain many promises and allusions to the coming of such an One. He is variously referred to as the “Seed” of the woman (Gen. 3:15); the “Seed” of Abraham (Gen. 22:18); “Shiloh” (Gen. 49:10); a great “Prophet” (Deut. 18:15,18); a “King” (Ps. 2:6); “The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6); the “Arm” of the Lord (Isa. 51:9; 52:10; 53:1); “Michael” (Dan. 12:1). This promised One would become the Head of a worldwide government.

Peter’s summary of the prophetic testimony assures us that all these references, and the many others of similar nature, pointed forward to the coming of Christ. This is fully in keeping with the angelic message when Jesus was born: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10,11

Throughout the centuries, God had been promising the coming of this ‘Savior’ who would bring salvation to Israel and to the world, and now he had actually come. Those who later became disciples of Jesus believed that he was the One whom their prophets had promised, and they had confidence that through him they would obtain salvation. To them his wonderful and authoritative teachings and miracles were convincing evidence of his Divine appointment.

There was nothing especially appealing or inspirational in the prophecies which described the sufferings of Christ, so they were overlooked by the disciples. They had only in mind the ‘glory’ which the prophecies attached to the Messiah; and in becoming followers of Jesus they looked to him to fulfill these promises.

To the disciples, the promises of Messianic glory had to do with the establishment of a kingdom. They believed, and properly so, that the Messiah would be a great King, and in fulfillment of the prophecies, would free Israel from the yoke of the Gentiles and establish a kingdom which would extend its sphere of influence to embrace the whole earth, giving health and life to all the obedient of mankind. In all this they were right. What they did not understand was that there were other prophecies which first had to be fulfilled which had foretold the sufferings of Christ. Jesus explained to the two disciples after his resurrection, when, beginning with Moses, and by the testimony of all the prophets, he revealed to them that the ‘glory’ promises must await fulfillment until the foretold sufferings of Christ were finished.—Luke 24:25-27

Probably up to this point many professed Christians would agree, but as we continue to follow Peter’s inspired explanation of the prophecies we begin to diverge from the views of practically all of the Christian world. He explains two points which are recognized and appreciated only by those who know ‘the joyful sound.’ One is that the promised salvation which was to come through Christ would not be attained until his revelation at the Second Advent. The other is that the foretold sufferings of Christ were not finished on Calvary, but continued through the experience of his faithful followers as they walk in his footsteps, laying down their lives in the service of their God.


The disciples who walked with Jesus in Judea gathered from his teachings that they were to share in his ‘glory,’ and became absorbed with this thought. On one occasion, two of them requested that one be granted the honor of sitting at his right hand; and the other of sitting on his left hand in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus did not say that this was an improper request. He had come to be a king. He would establish a kingdom. If faithful, they were to share the glory of that kingdom with him. But they did not understand that in order to enter into such heights of glory they must first share in his sufferings. ‘Are ye able to drink of my cup?’ he asked, ‘and to be baptized with my death baptism?’—Mark 10:38

Following Peter’s reference to the foretold sufferings of Christ, we find much in his epistle to show that the followers of Christ share in these sufferings, that they are included in the prophetic testimony of Messianic suffering. “For even hereunto were ye called:” he writes, “because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps.” (I Pet 2:21) Paul also stresses this point, saying that it is only if we suffer with Christ that we have the witness of the Spirit that we are the children of God.—Rom. 8:17

Soon after the apostles fell asleep in death this great truth began to be set aside and very nearly lost. The glory concept of the Christian way dominated the aspirations and efforts of the Christian churches, and attempts were made to establish the Messianic kingdom by uniting with civil governments. This was a gross departure from the truth as revealed in the Word of truth. Many professed Christians have since recognized the evils which resulted from this unholy alliance of church and state, but have failed to recapture the true viewpoint of the Christian life which was lost as a result of that great apostasy.

With the loss of the great truth that only after the suffering and death of the body members of the Christ will the glory promises of the Bible be fulfilled, came also other errors. One of the most serious was the inherent immortality of the soul. With this error came the additional wrong teaching that at death every person’s eternal destiny was fixed; that the righteous were immediately rewarded with the joys of heaven, while the unrighteous either entered into purgatorial sufferings to prepare them for heaven, or else into an eternity of torture in a fiery hell.

Thus the work of the church became the preaching of salvation from eternal torture, with the belief that this would continue until some indefinite time in the future when the earth would be destroyed and all the wicked then living would be immediately consigned to torture, and the few remaining righteous whisked off to heavenly glory. While many came to realize that the church-state systems of Europe were not Christ’s kingdom, the whole Christian world is still contaminated with the leaven of error which brought those systems into being. They still believe that so far as human society is concerned the only thing the Lord will ever do for its betterment will be done by them, through moral reform efforts, lobbying, etc.


How good it is to know that the ‘joyful sound’ of God’s Word includes the blessings for all the world of mankind by God’s power. Isaiah describes Jesus as the “Prince of Peace,” and then says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” And he concludes with the emphatic statement, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:7

May glory and honor be given to his holy name!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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