Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
Last time, we introduced several issues that come to the surface of Psalm 2. We noted that there is a bit of back and forth viewpoint between earth (man’s perspective), and heaven (God’s perspective). We also highlighted the fact that as far as God is concerned, humanity has absolutely no chance of throwing off the “bands” and “cords” related to God’s sovereignty. Let’s look at Psalm 2 again before we get deeper into things.
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2)
To really highlight and discuss all that is here in these twelve verses would take many articles. I recommend quality commentaries by conservative scholars, like McGee, Constable, Hendriksen, Barnes, and others. They plumb the depths of the original languages to bring out the jewels sometimes lost in translation from Hebrew to English. In the meantime, we’ll bring out the more obvious points of this Psalm that as we stated last time, have to do with God’s sovereignty and promises related to Jesus. Because Psalm 2 connects with Jesus and specific but still unfulfilled prophecies, it makes it a Messianic Psalm. Since God’s Word is completely faithful and many prophecies foretold about Jesus long before He physically lived on this planet were fulfilled, we can rest assured that other prophecies about Jesus not yet fulfilled will be fulfilled. What is God waiting for to bring these other prophecies/promises to fulfillment? Nothing more than His timing.
We ended our last article with verses 5 and 6, where God speaks to the kings and rulers of this world from His considered anger. At first, even though He laughs derisively at puny man’s attempts to come out from under God’s rule (sovereignty), His mirth turns to anger. The King James Version above uses the word “wrath” and then the word “displeasure.” Wrath is an action word. It is action prompted by anger, not simply anger that has no place to go. Wrath is the outworking of God’s anger. It is the action He takes because of His anger. Wrath is normally connected with judgment in some form.
In essence, God says in verses 5 and 6 that after He laughs kings and rulers to scorn, His anger turns to wrath (the action part of anger) and verse 6 points out the first part of His “wrath.” It is to “set [His] king upon [His] holy hill of Zion.” In other words, in spite of how desirous man is to be “done” with God at all costs and to self-govern and not worry about God at all, God presses things and says that in spite of all of man’s efforts (and Satan’s as well), not only will man not get his wish to be free of God’s rule, but God insists that He will install His king on His holy hill of Zion. In essence, humanity will be ruled physically by God the Son. How’s that for “in your face”? Do you see the absolute splendor and majesty in this? This is one of the reasons Jesus, God the Son will rule over the entire earth in physical form at some point in the future.
Right now, God is “invisible” to us, isn’t He? The world can ignore what they cannot see. One day, the world will see Him and those who do not know Him will be absolutely terrified (Matthew 24:29-31). It is the exact same terror that people who are not saved experience when they die without Christ and in the next instant are brought into the very presence of God Almighty. This is why we read in Hebrews 10:31 the following words:
It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
A model of Herod’s Temple as it likely appeared during Jesus’ day. Photo from http://www.generationword.com/
Those who kid themselves into thinking that God does not exist or that He does not care or that He is powerless against Satan joined with humanity, will be in for a severely rude awakening. However, because of the way things are going in the world, it is relatively easy for people to brainwash themselves into thinking that God has somehow lost control. God will install God the Son as physical Ruler of this earth and He will install Him on Zion.
Zion became another name for what we know today as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Directly across from the Mt. of Olives, right near the Kidron Valley lies the flat top of a hill that Herod the Great extended during his reign. Upon that extended area, and in order to make the Jewish leaders happy, he had Herod’s Temple built for them. Herod was at least part Jewish, which is why Rome installed him as ruler over that area of the world. Rome felt that if they installed a leader who was at least part Jewish and therefore, could relate personally with the Jews, those Jewish leaders might have respect for that leader and ultimately for Rome. It was a tenuous existence at best. Herod had the Temple Mount expanded in order to build a larger Jewish Temple so the one during Jesus’ day was beautiful indeed.
Many things in Scripture happened either on or near this mount. The entire mountain or hill is originally referred to as Mt. Moriah. It’s where Abraham nearly sacrificed promised son Isaac (Genesis 22), and of course, it is where Jesus died on the cross for humanity. This is also why Isaac – the promised son – is seen as a type of Christ.
The more we study Scripture, the more we see God’s plan in motion and coming to fruition. In a very real sense, His plan(s) have been thoroughly unstoppable. Nothing kept Jesus from being born though it took hundreds of years for it to happen and under the worst circumstances. Is this not proof that God is sovereign?
First, God had to call Abraham (Genesis 12; though He hinted at redemption way back in Genesis 3), and spell out very clear promises (to us now; Genesis 12, 15, and 17). Then, God had to bring the promised son Isaac into the world against all odds. From there, God had to bring Jacob into this same world who became the father of 12 sons, who in turn became the patriarchs of Israel (not yet created).
It then took 10 of those sons to come together in an attempt to eradicate Joseph (Ruben did not participate). Even though the sons thought they had gotten rid of their pesky younger brother, God had different plans and His sovereignty prevailed. Joseph, though sold into slavery, ultimately became the second in command over all of Egypt, just under Pharaoh. After Joseph’s death, a new Pharaoh rose who was very strict with those folks known as “Hebrews” (Joseph and his relations). They became slaves in Egypt and grew in numbers.
God then brought Moses onto the scene and let’s not forget that Satan tried to destroy Moses as he had attempted to destroy Joseph years before. Even though Moses was saved by the Egyptian princess from death and taken into Pharaoh’s palace where he lived and was taught the ways of the Egyptians, his heart forever remained with the Hebrews because of his real mother’s upbringing.
Eventually, Moses fled the scene after killing an Egyptian (Exodus 2). He spent 40 years in the wilderness tending his father-in-law’s sheep until God called him with the burning bush. Then comes the showdown with Pharaoh in God’s strength.
Eventually, Moses leads the enslaved Hebrews out of Egypt after Pharaoh’s continued refusal to let them go, but finally relents after the last plague and Pharaoh’s first-born son is taken from him in death. We know the story. Pharaoh chases down the fleeing Hebrews and dies along with his army in the Red Sea.
The Lord calls on Moses to continue leading the multitude of people through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. On the way, God creates from them a nation called Israel, consisting of 12 tribes. Hundreds of years later, from one of those tribes (Judah), the Messiah (Jesus) would be born. He would live a sinless life from start to finish and offer His life voluntarily for the sins of humanity. All who will, in faith believing that He is who He says He is, rest in His substitutionary death will gain eternal life. I’m sure you know the story.
Let me ask you right here. How is it possible that all of that happened with God still bringing His plans to realization if God was not fully sovereign? How could it have come to pass if God was forced to rely on humanity in order to accomplish His purposes? It would be impossible unless God was (and is) fully sovereign! He is hampered by nothing.
We know the story. We’ve heard it over and over again. We can fill in many of the facts of the one long thread that W. Graham Scroggie has rightly called “The Unfolding Drama of Redemption.” God’s plan(s) has always moved forward. There has never been any doubt. Read Revelation 12 for an even more brief summary of what I’ve just related. Consider all the facts, all the details, and all the ways that God has moved to bring His plans to pass. Yet, He never stumbled. He never had to rethink things. He never had to stop and reconsider and this is even taking into effect the alleged “free will” of humanity and the power of Satan!
By the time King David wrote the words of Psalm 2, much of what I’ve related was already behind him. Of course, the birth of the Messiah was yet in front of him, but the hard work of creating Israel from Abraham (and everything that included), was done! King David could understand Psalm 2 from his perspective knowing that God had already been faithful because of all the things He had promised and brought to the fore.
All of this speaks to God’s sovereignty and it leaves humanity with one question, though another question is often asked. Too often in society today, we hear people speaking of God being on their side. The question we should be asking and answering is whether or not we are on God’s side!
Throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament, people either side with God to bring His plans to fruition whatever the cost or they side against Him to their own detriment. Now when I say people side with God, understand that God does not need our help to accomplish His purposes. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament clearly ears this out.
When I was little, I would sometimes help my father with things he asked me to help him with. Did he need my help? Not at all, so why did he ask me to help him? For several reasons. First, it taught me something new and trained me in being more responsible. Second, it gave my father a bit of companionship while he worked on something. Doesn’t a job go easier when two people are involved in it rather than simply one person? Of course, God is not like us at all. He doesn’t need our help but He wants our help because we learn something new and gain a more responsible outlook on life and His plans. Second, we gain from our “companionship” with our heavenly Father. Third, He enjoys fellowship with us (if we are saved) just as He enjoyed fellowship with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8; even though after their fall, the implication is that this was the practice of God, to join Adam and Eve in the Garden for fellowship).
Let this sink in as I’m letting it sink in for me. God’s sovereign purposes always come to pass. Verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 2 tell us what will be toward the end of this age. It makes no difference whether you believe it or not or whether Satan works against it. That has no bearing on the fulfillment of God’s promises. There are plenty of people who lived in the past and live today who laugh at the Bible and the “alleged” future return of Jesus to this planet. Their laughter will turn to abject horror if they do not wake up. Nothing will stop God from bringing all of His plans to fruition.
We’ll look at the last portion of Psalm 2 and try to wrap things up next time…but no promises