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- IntroductionGood morning and welcome again to Dishman Baptist Church. If you’re just joining us for the first time we’ve recently completed a six month study through the book of Colossians and we’ve seen what a glorious picture of Christ the Apostle Paul gives us through that book. We got to witness who Christ really is, what He has done for us and then spend some time as Paul meticulously explained what that means for us.Over the last two weeks Kyle did a great job unpacking Hebrews 12:1-3 for us as we have examined our lives to see what hindrances or sins may be impacting our race and our effectiveness in serving Christ.It has been interesting how much of the sermons from Colossians and from Hebrews have shown up in our mid-week Bible study as those who are involved in that have been going through a study entitled Behold Your God and we are having our eyes reopened to see the person of God for all of His beauty and grandeur that sometimes we can get away from in the trappings of our modern church.The summer is quickly passing away and we are starting to get prepared for the fall when we will launch into our next expositional study of an entire book - the Gospel of Mark and I’m looking forward to starting that with all of you on September 1st.During this intervening time I want to take a few weeks and look back. Not to yesteryear or to our own history but to look back into the Word of God to see Christ presented through some key passages in the book of Psalms. We are New Testament Christians and there is much in the New Testament for us to study and to digest and we could legitimately spend the rest of our lives studying those passages.We even have a habit of saying that our faith is 2000 years old - which would date back to the time that Christ walked the earth and the books of the New Testament were being written. But in doing so I think we do ourselves a disservice as we overlook the beauty of His foreshadowing provided for those witnesses from Hebrews 12:1 who have gone before us and would attest to the truth that our faith is really 6000 years old.That it dates back - at least in our human reckoning of time - to the moment when God created the earth and then Adam and Eve. To when Eve ate the fruit and then Adam did as well. And to that great pronouncement from God in Genesis 3:15I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.The promise of a Messiah to come who would set all things right. We’re going to spend some time examining a category of Psalms called the Messianic Psalms that point us if only ever so dimly to Christ and see how even then through David or the other writers God was revealing Himself to the careful eye and attentive ear of the listener. If you would please turn in your Bibles with me to Psalm 2. We’ll be reading the whole Psalm.Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and his Anointed One: “Let’s tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us.” The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then he speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath: “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.” So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or he will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for his anger may ignite at any moment. All who take refuge in him are happy.In addition to being a Messianic Psalm there are many commentators and Biblical scholars who view this Psalm as a second introduction to the book of Psalms. There are many parallels between Psalm 1 and 2. Psalm 1 looks at the paths of individuals, while Psalm 2 broadens our view out to the paths of nations. In both early Christian and Jewish traditions Psalms 1 and 2 were both one Psalm.This Psalm happens in four stages, movements if you will. We see four actors on the stage as the Psalm unfolds. There is the narrator and he will be ever present, there are the nations who speak during the first movement in verses 1-3, the Lord who speaks second in verses 4-6, the Son makes an appearance for the third act in verses 7-9 and then the narrator has the stage all to himself during the last stage. Let’s sit back and observe as this Psalm unfolds how not much this drama unfolds and is even now unfolding in our day.The Nations SpeakPsalm 2:1-3; James 4:4;In addition to providing a second introduction to the book of Psalms and being a Messianic Psalm this Psalm is also a coronation psalm and would have been sung at the ascension of a new King to the throne of Israel. An interesting note is that even during the successful military campaigns and rule of David or the even greater success of his son Solomon - who really advanced the territory of Israel to it’s high water mark or greatest territorial possession - Israel never attained the kind of empire that would be in view during this Psalm. They never really achieved the kind of success over the nations that would be envisioned by the statements of the nations here within these verses.There truly is nothing new under the sun, just a re-envisioning of the past. There are three things we should immediately notice from these nations that will also provide us a view of what is currently happening in our world today. The nations actions in this passage, and consequently their actions today, are deliberate, resolute and comprehensive or unified - they include everyone without distinction.You will note the way the passage opens - why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The writer is not really asking this question he is more musing out loud. It is really no surprise that this is the course of the world - James tells usYou adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.What is surprising though is the measuredness of the rage. The narrator says that the peoples plot, the rulers conspire together. This is no emotional reaction that is the product of pure drive. This is the cold, calculated actions of a world that desires and has desired from the start to rule themselves. This is Romans 1 in action where Paul writesFor though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.The most devastating terrorist attack in US history happened on September 11, 2001. Many of you can instantly hear that date and remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard about the attacks in New York and Washington. It was an attack that took 102 minutes to unfold from the moment that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center until that Tower collapsed. In the intervening time the South Tower had already collapsed, the Pentagon was struck by a plane and Flight 93 had been crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania. 102 minutes. But the planning for this event started 5 years in advance in 1996.This is the kind of plotting and conspiring that is alluded to in these verses. There is a deliberate effort on the part of the nations to remove the influence of Christ. We see it represented in this Psalm. We see it in Matthew 27 with respect to Christ.When daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put him to death.And we see it in our day. We shouldn’t be surprised by news like that which came out of Berkley California this week that all gendered language would be removed from the city ordinances.There wont be any more manholes or manpower. There will now be maintenance holes and human efforts. There wont be any policemen, policewomen, firemen or firewomen on patrol - they will all be fire-persons. Now do the words really matter that much? Not really - but it is the mindset, the worldview behind this move that is informative for us today."Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality," Robinson said. "Women and non-binary individuals are just as entitled to accurate representation. Our laws are for everyone, and our municipal code should reflect that."This is the world view that says that God doesn’t determine who we are - whether we’re male or female or non-binary or indeterminate. We will determine for ourselves very nicely thank you. And this isn’t something that has just happened overnight. This is a part of a deliberate effort to supplant God’s stated condition for the human raceSo God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.and to determine for ourselves who and what we are going to be. It also is what drives the announcements recently that the American Psychological Association is now saying that polyamory - a romantic relationship that involves multiple people - is completely normal, even going so far as to call it just another healthy choice, and should be accepted.These are deliberate, measured attempts to “throw off their chains and throw their ropes off of us”.And being deliberate takes effort. It takes dedication. It takes a certain amount of internal resolution to hijack a plane full of people and fly it into a building. It takes an equal amount of resolution to say that no matter what scientific or physical data you provide I’m still going to be whatever I want to be and act however I want to act. And that is the next attribute we see exhibited by the nations in this Psalm - resoluteness.The kings of the earth take their stand - they are resolute in their determination to get rid of God and His Anointed One. The word used here for resolute is the same word used to characterize that stand that Goliath would take as he stood and hurled his challenges and insults down on the armies of Israel.This is not the fatalistic resolution of the Light Brigade - “ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die” - but that of one who actually expects to win. The nations take their stand with contempt.Commenting on this subject, the 18th Century commentator Matthew Henry wrote this
“One would have expected that so great a blessing to this world should have been universally welcomed and embraced, and that every sheaf should immediately have bowed to that of the Messiah, and all the crowns and sceptres on earth should have been laid at His feet; but it proves quite contrary. Never were the notions of any sect of philosophers, though never so absurd, nor the power of any prince or state, though never so tyrannical, opposed with so much violence as the doctrine and government of Christ.”Instead they stood and said“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We don’t want this man to rule over us.’The final point that we should note from these nations is their unity. A favorite radio host of mine has a saying “darkness doesn’t fight against darkness.” What he means by that is that every other worldview will put aside their differences to fight Christianity. The leaders in this passage are no different. They conspire together putting aside any differences to try to supplant the Lord from His throne.It is interesting that this is not only still the case but the unfortunate disunity of the church in the face of such unified opposition. Charles Spurgeon once quipped
1472The church of Christ is always quarreling, but did you ever hear that the devil and his confederates quarrel? They are so united that if at any special moment the great prince of hell wishes to concentrate all the masses of his army at one particular point, it is done to the tick of the clock, and the temptation comes with its fullest force just when he sees it to be the most likely that he will prevail. If we had such unanimity as that in the church of God, if we all moved at the guidance of the finger of Christ, if all the church could move in one great mass to the attack of a certain evil, how much more easily might we prevail! But alas, the powers of hell far exceed us in unanimity.This is how the nations act. They are deliberate. They are resolute. They are unified. But what about us? What about you? When it comes to that private sin. Those acceptable sins? That juicy piece of gossip, I mean information, that you hear and can’t wait to share. Are you deliberate? Do you plan when and where you’re going to drop that bomb? Are you resolute in your stance that you’re just sharing information - this isn’t really gossip at all. And are you unified with those who you share this information with that you are all justified in having and sharing this tidbit?Now gossip is only one of the sins - but you in your own mind can erase gossip and write in your own candidate. Are you shaking your fist at God and holding on to something that you know you should let go? Are you refusing to allow Him His rightful place on the throne of your life because of some pet sin that you’re harboring? Or could you be impeding your growth as a Christian because you’re holding on to some activity or action that you know is wrong but you’re unwilling to let it go.The Christian rap artist Shai Linne has some great lines in his song “Our God is in the heavens” built off of this verse - I’ll bet you would never have thought you’d hear me quoting rap lyrics but here they are:So why do the nations rage and all of the peoples plot in vain? Their sin and offense is against His excellence and they're not ashamed As though He's lacking the power to shackle them now in the hottest flames And so they cock and aim- the target? His cosmic reign That's like a kid with a super soaker trying to conquer Spain! Man thinks he's a pugilist, trying to ball up his puny fist At the LORDThe Lord SpeaksPsalm 2:4-6;At the Lord. Well the Lord is the next who comes on the scene. You can almost see it - as the nations say “and throw their ropes off of us” they hear footsteps just off stage and with a frightened look - the defiance they had just a moment ago has disappeared like the morning fog in the noonday sun - and then onto the stage steps God. And He’s laughing - but it’s not the mirthful, joyful laugh that we would expect from Him. The only times God is said to laugh in Scripture has to do with derisive laughterThe Lord laughs at him because he sees that his day is coming.But you laugh at them, Lord; you ridicule all the nations.This is not the meek and mild Jesus of the New Testament - we love that picture. The meek and mild servant who came to take away our sins. We really don’t like to hear about the Lion of Judah because that’s the fire and brimstone God. That’s the mean God of the Old Testament - He’s been through some anger counseling and He’s much nicer now that the New Testament has come along and refined Him. This is not our favorite picture of God - two of our least favorite pictures of Him are found in this very book just a few chapters from where we’re studying today.The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who tell lies; the Lord abhors violent and treacherous people.God is a righteous judge and a God who shows his wrath every day. If anyone does not repent, he will sharpen his sword; he has strung his bow and made it ready.But the New Testament has this vindictive picture of God as well.It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.This is the same writer who a few chapters after that statement would remind us that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament and the God of today are all one and the sameJesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.Just as there were three attributes we should note regarding the nations in verses 1-3, there are three attributes of God demonstrated here in verses 4-6 as well. The first is that He is Sovereign. The narrator makes this clear right from the beginning as he says “the One enthroned in heaven”. God is on the throne and He does whatever He pleases.One of the clearest demonstrations of this in Scripture is the book of Job.Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind. He said: Who is this who obscures my counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer me like a man; when I question you, you will inform me. Where were you when I established the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.and then again in chapter 40The Lord answered Job: Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who argues with God give an answer.Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: Get ready to answer me like a man; When I question you, you will inform me. Would you really challenge my justice? Would you declare me guilty to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s? Can you thunder with a voice like his?Another example of His sovereignty is in His statement - “I have installed My King on Zion”. God needs no ones permission to act. He doesn’t seek the will of the nations and then move. He moves in His own sovereign purposes. Does this comfort you today? Is it a comfort to know that God is in complete and total control and that everything that happens is within His purview. This should be a comfort for the believer - that our God, who never changes, is orchestrating every event for the good of His people and ultimately for His own glory.That knowledge and statement should also be terrifying for the sinner. It is why the nations slip away as God speaks - because He terrifies them. They know that they cannot stand against him - despite their resoluteness, despite how cunning they think they are in their plotting and scheming, despite how unified they are - they will melt before Him. The narrator tells us that He speaks to them in his anger and terrifies them in His wrath.We’ve already referred to the writer of Hebrews where he wroteIt is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.And it is. The book of Revelation tells us that the nations at that time who will be shaking their fists at God will attempt to pull the mountains down upon themselves and to hide among the rocks to escape His judgement. In fact there are some ways in which this has already begun. They’re called doomsday condo’s and they’re being built in abandoned nuclear missile silos. A half floor unit will only cost you 1.5 million dollars. But should doomsday come - you’ll have a very comfortable seat. There is no where to hide.Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways.The rest of that Psalm goes on to recount all of the places that God is and there is no where to hide from Him. But more on that in a minute.The final attribute of God that we can observe here is that He is sure and resolute - to meet the determination of the nations. Their desire is to remove the King that God has put on the throne but He says with no equivocation the “I have installed MY King on Zion, My holy mountain.” He lays claim to His city and His mountain and makes no allowances for anyone else’s opinions.And now the King steps on the scene - yet He’s not like the King we might expect.The Son SpeaksPsalm 2:7-9; Matthew 4:8-9;The narration here shifts into the first person. This is not the narrator’s commentary on what the Lord’s anointed would say - but instead they are His very words. He says I will declare the Lord’s declaration. How very unlike a King to come on the scene and say that He will declare someone else’s words. He is supposed to be sovereign. He’s the authority. There is no higher authority than Him. And yet here He is speaking not on His own position as King but on the authority and with the words that He has been given to speak.Christ, even though He was truly God, spoke only the Words of the Father that He gave Him to speak.For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said. I know that his command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me.”The Son came speaking not His own words but the words of the Father who sent Him. And the Father blessed Him and acknowledged Him as His Son. “You are my Son, today I have become your Father.”Twice in Scripture God directly refers to Christ as His son - at His baptismAnd a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”and then again at His transfigurationWhile he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown and were terrified.Here God not only refers to the King as His Son but we get a glimpse into the calm sureness of what God has ordained. In verses 1-3 we get the sense of a flurry of activity. The nations are scurrying here and there, sliding from shadow to shadow trying to keep their plotting and conspiring secret. But here we get the picture of a conquering sovereign who, once the work is done sits down and offers to give His Son whatever He wants.How very different is this from the temptation of Christ - God a loving Father says “ask of Me and I will make the nations your inheritance”Satan says bow down to me and I’ll give you all these nations (Mt. 4:8-9)Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me.”He tell Him that He will break the nations that are gifted to Him with an iron scepter and shatter them like pottery. This is a foreshadowing of a verse we’re going to look at in a moment from Revelation 19. But first the narrator has to come out again.The Narrator Speaks AgainPsalm 2:10-12;The narrator comes back on stage at the end of this drama to summarize all that has transpired and to deliver to the audience - to us the moral of the story. He says be wise and then he tells us what encompasses this wisdom. Be wise - the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7)The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. That is one thing that we may be missing in our modern context. Sure, we serve the Lord - only so far as it doesn’t move us out of our comfort zone. One thing that makes this possible is that we’ve lost that reverential awe of God. Some of us have lived so close to Him for so long that He has almost become common place to us.For part of my life I lived close to Niagara Falls - within the city limits. And it was great for about the first three months. Then the novelty wore off and I would go and see the Falls when someone came in to town but the majesty, the grandeur of that place had lost something because of familiarity.I think some of us are in danger of being in that place with God. We still love Him, we still serve Him but do we really hold Him in reverential awe? Do we come into His presence, not just on Sunday morning, but every day praising Him and rejoicing with trembling?The narrator tells us to pay homage to the Son - the ESV says “kiss the Son” - this is in reference to the deference paid to sovereigns by those who come into their presence. They would kiss the back of their hand.As we pay homage to the Son, as we bow to kiss the back of His hand we come face to face with the scars that Thomas put his fingers into. We are to kiss the very symbol of what paid for our rebellion. And with that picture in mind the narrator closes with a warning.There is a day coming when the Son will appear in his anger and those who remain in rebellion will perish.Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
1 Thessalonians 5:23CSB
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