20.10.13 – Who Rules? – Peter Cheyne

Read Psalm 2.

This is a stunning psalm for the picture it gives of God. But do we like what we see of God here or would we rather have a different god?

If I was to ask, “What do we learn about God from this psalm?” what would you say?

The picture here is certainly not of a kindly old man who is a bit doddery and vaguely unaware of what is going on around him but is loving and generous and smiles sweetly at everyone.

You will remember that Jesus said to the Samaritan woman that God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. To worship in truth we must understand who God really is. Let’s not just having a vague understanding of who society says God is. Who do the scriptures reveal God to be? Is God that kindly old man? Or is God a vicious, hateful tyrant? Who is God – according to the Bible?

Psalm 2 asks why the nations plot against God. Why do the leaders band together to oppose God? It is all in vain. What a stupid waste of time opposing God.

Look at v.4. God laughs. God scoffs.

The most powerful leaders on the planet strut and posture and shake their fists at God. And God laughs! Isn’t this an amazing picture? They think they are powerful enough to challenge God. And God laughs! It suggests pathetic puniness. No wonder the psalmist questions why they do it. How ridiculous. The image in my mind is of the citizens of Lilliput throwing toothpicks at Gulliver as if to mortally wound him and Gulliver just laughs.

Is it true that the nations conspire and rulers band together against God?

I am not sure that many leaders would say that that is what they are doing. It is not conscious. It is just that people who don’t know God have an ungodly agenda. You see what they say in v.3: Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles. “They” refers to the Lord and His anointed. In the first instance, the anointed one would have been the king – King David. But this psalm is clearly prophetic. “Messiah” means “God’s anointed”. The psalm also refers to God and the Messiah; God and His Son the Lord Jesus.

That, in itself, is quite remarkable. This psalm was probably written 1000 years before Jesus came, and yet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the psalmist refers to the Messiah. More than that, he refers to the Messiah as the Son of God. Look at v.7. You are my son; today I have become your father.

We will come back to that but just note that the nations are said to conspire against God and His anointed; against God the Father and Jesus the Son. Do nations do that? Let’s think about that. We could start with those nations where Christianity is outlawed or, even if not actually illegal, Christians are persecuted. There were more Christians martyred in the 20th century than in the whole rest of the history of the church and it continues. There are periodic outbreaks of violence against Christians in countries like India, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan.

Just this week the Washington Post reported an American senator saying that there is a world-wide war on Christianity. He linked that to militant Islam and we might immediately think of Muslim countries. That is one aspect but what about western nations?

The psalm portrays the nations saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” They see God as someone who holds them captive; a God who is restrictive. “Let us break free.”

In the west, haven’t we seen a casting off of godly values in the name of freedom? And isn’t it remarkable how the same things are happening all over the world. The leaders band together saying, “Let’s be free.”

The obvious recent example was the same-sex marriage issue. There is a more general push for promiscuity including the legalisation of prostitution. But it is not just sexual ethics. Think of the focus on greed and whatever the banking issues were that caused the caused such economic chaos recently. These are not godly values. God calls us to care for one another but look, for example, at the reaction in the USA to Obama-care. We don’t want to care for each other. We want to be free to be greedy. We want to be free to sin. We want to be free to be selfish. This psalm is as up-to-date as today’s news.

We shake our fists at God and say, “We don’t want to do what You say. We want to do things our way.”

Is God worried? Is God feeling threatened? Not a bit of it. God laughs at such arrogance. But don’t get the idea that God is amused. Look at how the psalm continues. God will rise up in anger. He will rebuke them and terrify them. What do we learn about God in this psalm? We certainly learn that God will not be mocked. People might defy God but God will not be defeated by mere proud human beings.

Galatians 6:7-8   7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

This is a contest about who will rule. God declares, “I have installed my king on Zion.” God will rule. Make no mistake about it. When the time comes, God will be sovereign. God’s king and God’s Kingdom will be established on My Zion. When Jesus returns as King, He will return to Jerusalem.

V.7 says, “He said to me”. Who is the “me”? Is it David? This psalm was possibly part of a coronation or a ceremony. It may be that David is declaring to the nations that he is God’s appointed and anointed king. David was adopted as God’s son. David was given God’s authority to reign over the nations.

Yet the psalm is bigger than David. Yes, it points to David but it also points to One beyond David. The language is too big for David. It speaks of all nations being given to Him – all the earth. It speaks of a terrible judgement. “You will break them with an iron rod; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

It is about God’s ultimate king: Jesus. And again, it gives a picture of judgement; the nations being smashed like pottery. God will not be mocked.

What is the God of the Bible like? Don’t we see a majestic, powerful, holy God who will rise up against all rebellion and sin? This is God. When the end comes, all that is wrong will be judged.

This is not just an Old Testament view of God.

Heb 10:26-31      26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Are you glad that God gets angry? I am. I am extremely grateful. There are so many things that are wrong- so many gross injustices. There are millions of people of people who suffer because some are greedy. There are so many hideous crimes such as human trafficking, terrorism, blackmail, extortion. The horrible situation in Syria at the moment where a leader kills his own people. They make me angry. I am glad that they make God angry and that He will rise up to judge them.

But that is not the end of the psalm! The last three verses are an appeal for people to consider the path they are taking and to turn around. It is true that God is holy and will judge sin but His desire is always that we turn to Him and avoid judgement.

We might say, “There’s all this talk of God judging the world but He hasn’t. Maybe it isn’t true. Maybe we can do what we like. Maybe there are no consequences defying God.”

Peter wrote about just that.

2 Peter 3:3-4       3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

Peter goes on to say that they deliberately forget that God has judged in the past. Remember the people of Noah’s time. The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly. The New Testament says exactly the same as the Old Testament. But listen to the reason why God has delayed judgement.

2 Peter 3:9           The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

Peter’s line of thought is: Will God judge? Yes, He will. Why then the delay? Because He is merciful.

While talking about the certainty of judgement, we hear that God’s desire is that no one perishes. Judgement will happen. God’s holiness requires it. Justice requires judgement. If God was all soft and gentle and lovey-dovey, He could never bring justice because justice requires that all that is wrong is eliminated. But God is delaying that judgement because He wants everyone to repent.

That is how the psalm finishes. There is bad news but wake up! Think! Be warned. Instead of pathetically shaking your fist at God, serve Him with fear. Celebrate His rule. Instead of trying to be king, acknowledge Him as king. Why with trembling? Not because God’s people need to fear Him but simply aware of the consequences of not acknowledging Him.

The Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Kiss His Son. Is that the kiss of love or the kiss of submission and honour – kissing the hand of the king? Both are appropriate. We are urged, implored to love Jesus and honour Him. Everything depends on our response to Jesus. Kiss the Son, or God will be angry and your way will lead to destruction. We are urged not to delay putting our faith in Jesus. God’s wrath can flare up in a moment. Who knows when God judgement might be unleashed?

God appeals to us. Nations and individuals defy God and shake their fists at Him yet He still delays and calls us to turn around. We treat Him badly and He still wants us to be saved. The holiness of God only makes His grace and mercy more amazing. The God who must do what is right, who must eliminate all that is wrong, offers us salvation.

Note the last line of this psalm: Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. There is the gospel. At the end of a psalm about judgement, there is the gospel. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Blessed are those who know that God is the only place of safety and who put all their trust in God. When God judges, the only place of safety will be God Himself. All we have to do is turn to Jesus for our salvation.

I am glad that God will get angry but what if he gets angry with me – as He could. I have done many things wrong. But those who take refuge in God, find mercy. Those who confess their sin are forgiven.

Are you taking refuge in Him? Have you cast yourself completely on God, trusting nothing else; just trusting God? Kissing the Son, Serving Him with fear. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

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