When the world is in a mess.
At the end of every year on TV or radio or in Newspapers we have a review of major world events over the past year. The cartoonist inveriably have old Father Time dragging himself off the world stage – 1994 written on his sickle – and onto the stage bounds 1995, fresh and young and full of energy.
It is not surprising that 1994 is tired and worn out – the Bosnian conflict is still unresolved, Rwanda is devastated, Angola is still in crisis, the Russians are bombing Grosny, ……. the world economy is still in a slump, most of the world still goes to bed hungry. The average Briton owes £2500.00 [excluding mortgages], in the UK there are 400 abortions per day, 17 teenage school girls get pregnant every day, 4/10 marriages in the UK end in divorce …… The world is in a mess!!
Will 1995 be any better!! Was 1994 better than 1993!!? Was 1993 better than 1992??!!
Has it ever been any better? Will it ever be any better? Am I just been pessimistic?
Read history – there has always been war, famine, poverty, immorality, oppression etc….
The world is in disarray! It was so when the psalmist penned psalm 2.
1. HUMAN DEFIANCE. [vv 1-3]
This psalm was probably written when David was king of Israel at a time when he had subdued many of his enemies – the surrounding nations. It was not because David was an expansionist but these had been hostile towards Israel and he was subduing his enemies. The king had learned that the hostile forces in the world hate the people of God with a hatred that is stronger than racialism or nationalism.
He realises that the hostility he faces is dircted against him because he is devotee of Jehovah.
It would be easy for the Psalmist to feel like a martyr enduing this hostility BUT rather he reflects on the vanity of the hostility involved.
Why do the nations rage?
Why do the people plot in vain? [v1]
“Rage” has the connotation of a “raging sea” – group rage or riots. So the question really is, “Why is there so much international conflict?” It has become so commonplace that we hardly notice it any more. We can hardly tell the difference between Hollywood fiction and real life.
ILLUS.: TV while eating supper. “Pass the butter – O look they just threw a body out of that hijacked plane in France!” “More starving children in Africa – can I have another piece of chocolate cake?”
As Christians, more than any others, we should be asking these questions. Why are the nations raging and in such a mess.
The second question is equally momentous. “Why do the poeple plot in vain? OR …imagine a vain thing [KJV]”
Remember that when the Bible speaks about vanity it does not have in mind the amount of time spent in front of the mirrior trying to make up for the ravages of time.
Vanity in the OT means “emptiness, confusion, futility”
The word used here to “plot or imagine” is the same word used of the godly meditating on the law of the Lord. This is no idle fleeting thought BUT a deliberate effort to think or contemplate on something. The problem is that it is an exercise in futility.
Why is there so much confusion and emptiness??
Why do so many read their Horrorscopes when 90% is nonsense and the remaining 10% is rubbish!
Why are so many people becoming New Agers?
Why are “open marriages” protrayed as a way to “meaningful relationships” when all they do is open a Pandora’s box of social and sexual ills.
Why is divorce propagated as the only answer to marital unhappiness?
Spiritual, social and philosophical confusion abound and shows no sign of abating!
The danger that Christians face in the light of the world’s mess is that we adopted and attitude of calculated indifference to these problems. “What can I do?”
This indifference would be understandable if there were no answers but since there are answers it is inexcusable.
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together against
the Lord and against his anointed one. [v2]
This includes all those who are leaders of kingdoms other than the kingdom of God. Usually those who think they are so self-sufficient that they don’t need anyone else to instruct them. When this psalm was written kings were able to exert great influence on the people.
Today there are people who have far wider influnece in our society than any king or ruler. The mass media has brought about a whole new situation. Jounalists, Talk Show Hosts and Soap Opera producers pedal their philosophies to millions of people every day. It does influence the way we think – it does affect society’s view and behaviour about sex, marriages, family values, social responsibilities, God and the supernatural, etc…
The kings and rulers of our day do not sit on thrones and lead men into battle but sit in offices and recording studios and penthouse suites planning articles that will hit the newsstands in slick, sophisticated formats.
Whoever today’s kings are and wherever they meet they have this in common, “They take counsel together” – their whole approach to loife is contrary to God’s way. Consequently what they offer to the masses is the same. And we hear more of fallible man than of infallible God.
It is possible that real spiritual leaders can have places of influence but the are few and far between and we had better recognise that fact!!
The psalmist is in no doubt that the leaders of his day are opposed to “the LORD and to his anointed” – in open opposition. They don’t try to hide the fact.
The word LORD is in Capitals [in my Bible] – Yahweh – [Ex.3v13-14] “I am that I am”. Conveys independence, self-suffiency and determination. “I am who I am! I’ll do what I’ll do and I’ll accomplish what I please!!” It is a warning to man that he had better not confuse God with anyone else OR try to take his place.
The idea of a self-existent, self-dependent, totally unique God doesn’t appeal to self-sufficient man. It is not surprising then to find tha people do not like a message that says it is God and not man who determines our destiny.
It is also not surprising to finf that people will oppse the message of Chrisdt who is God Anointed One.
Self-sufficient people, wrapped up in their own schemes, content with their own sins, and bend on living their own lives don’t want to hear about a redeemer. They don’t want to know about a Saviour who has come.
They only look for answers down here – they don’t look up there.
ILLUS.: Planetarium – Planet Earth – evolutionary theroy presented as scientific fact. No mention of even a possibility of creation. WHY??
WHY?? because if you acknowledge creation you must acknowledge a creator and men don’t want to do that. Because they stand against God.
And they are openly so!!
“Let us break their chains” they say “and
throw off their fetters” [v3]
These chains and fetters are the principles and standards of God – they are only considered chains and fetters by those who reject them. They think God’s principles bring bondage and their advice is to be free from it.
Contemporary philosophy tells us the same thing – “break free” – it is not new. It was there in David’s Time, in fact, it goes back to Adam, even to Lucifer who was so irritated that he wasn’t “The Most High” that he decided to break free and be as God.
Today we are told that Christian morality is outmoded, Christian principles are repressive. The church must be there to christen, marry and bury but mustn’t interfer in our lives at any other point in between.
People want the freedom they believe God is denying them and if they can be free of these chains and fetters then they will have peace and joy and happiness.
BUT instead there is anarchy and an increasing number of people are looking for answers which are not forthcoming from their misguided leaders.
World leaders talk of peace but where is it? Where is the new world order George Bush promised at the end of the cold war?? If we are so clever why can’t we distribute the food so no one goes hungry? Why can’t husbands and wives solve their marriage problems? Why can’t parents raise children properly? ….
So what is God’s view of all this? How does God see man’s efforts to get on without him?
2. HEAVEN’S DISPLEASURE [v4-6]
What is God doing about this mess that the world is in? What is he doing about these arrogant leaders and rulers?
He laughs!! – NB – not amusement at the suffering children in Africa or the displaced peoples of Bosnia. God’s laughter is not amusement or hysteria BUT derision at the ludicrous, empty boastings of man. There is nothing more pathetic than the arrogant rhetoric of a humanity that has repeatedly proved itself incompetent to manage its own affairs. That is why God laughs!!
Man’s opposition to God is so pathetic that he doesn’t even bother to rise from his throne. [Lit. “the sitter in the heavens laughs”].
This does not mean that God is indifferent to man’s plight – [that is why Jesus “bore our griefs and carried our sorrows” and why he wept over Jerusalem. ]
BUT man trying to oppose God is as much a threat as an ant is to oppose an elephant. It is laughable!!!
There will come a time, however, when God’s laughter will give way to anger and displeasure. Indeed God is always angry with sin BUT because he is a merciful and gracious God he withholds the full outpouring of his wrath.
But one thing is sure – those who oppose him will experience the full extent of his anger and they will be terrified.
We sometimes have difficluty reconciling God’s love and God’s anger because we see it in human terms. When people get angry they usually lose control – not God, his anger is righteous and pure – if he did not get angry with sin then he would not be a holy God.
Is God simply playing a waiting game? Sitting on his throne seething in silence! NO!
I have installed my king on Zion,
my holy hill. [v6]
Initially referring to David but by extension referring to Jesus, Messiah.
The contrast between the kings who set themselves up [v2] and the king whom God appoints must not be missed. Self exalted man will be brought down BUT the one who humbles himself will be given a supreme position – NT makes clear that it is Jesus Christ the risen ascended Lord.
3. HEAVEN’S DECREE. [V7-9].
It is now the King who speaks reporting what God has said to him.
He outlines his position – the son of the Father .
He outlines his expectations – that the nations will be his as an inheritence.
He outlines his intentions – the rebellious will be destroyed and brought into
subjection to the king. [Like an iron bar shatters a
clay pot] [In the words of John the baptist “The
chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire]
These things are not acquired by his own ingenuity and planning BUT are given to him by his Father.
The heavenly view of things is strikingly different.
Chaos reigns on earth as a result of man’s arrogant rejection of God and his feeble attempts to brings some kind of meaning to his existence.
By contrast God and his Anointed One are seated in heaven confident and competent to bring order and meaning to this chaotic world.
4. HEART DECISION. [v10-12].
The Psalmist who begins by asking questions concludes by giving instructions!
If there is any misunderstanding about “God laughing” or “smashing them with an iron rod” we need to understand those statements in the light of these concluding verses.
God does not desire to see people suffer. He does not gloat over the destruction of those who oppose him. The psalmist is simply expressing in strong terms God’s ultimate victory over all oppostion.
He has addressed kings and rulers in v.2 and does so again here as representative of the people over whom they rule.
They would be advised to act wisely for there is no higher folly than to oppose God and no higher wisdom than to submit to him.
There are four key word in v.11 “serve, fear, LORD and trembling” all of which have a strong emphasis in submission and reverence. These were the very things that were missing from the kings and rulers.
But if there is to be any change in the world situation, that change must begin in the hearts of people. That change only comes when those who have understood the truth of God’s word submit to the claims of God in their lives.
This is the strange paradox – it is only in submission to the lord “in fear and trembling” that brings “rejoicing”. “… rejoice with trembling … ” What a paradox!!
No one objects to being joyful but what most people don’t realise is that true joy comes as a result of a reverent commitment to God.
The other thing that the kings and rulers need to do to be wise is to “Kiss the Son”
That is a strange expression!! In the OT a kiss is an expression of love and an acknowledge ment of submission.
ILLUS.: Kings and royalty would have their hands kissed – So too would men courting ladies! A kiss is still an expression of Love!!
It is not just a submission to avoid his anger but a submission out of love for Christ who died for us.
The message to the unbeliever, the cynic, the indiffernt is this: “Living without God in your life is an exercise in futility” BE wise!! turn to him for he is loving and caring and longs to give joy and peace and forgiveness. BUT he demands reverence and submission.
To the Christian the message is: “Don’t allow the world system to discourage you and get you down” Simply because God’s principles and standards are ignored and ridiculed by the majority, don’t allow that to make you compromise your faith.
The world and its wisdom will pass away but the word of the Lord will stand forever.
The believer has privileges and responsibilities that are clearly spelled out. As we begin 1995 we need, as God’s people, to be aware of the world in which we live and the turmoil it is in. BUT we also need to have a heavenly perspective – and see something of heaven’s splendour in contrast to the world’s turmoil. Knowing that God is in control – we have a responsibility to alert our world with the message of the last verse “Blessed are all those who take refuge [put their trust] in HIM”.
God himself must be the object of our trust and confidence.
Let this be our prayer for 1995!
Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labour to pursue,
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think, or speak, or do.