“Why are the nations so angry? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together.” –PSALM 2
The New Year began today with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un stating, “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat…This year, we should focus on mass-producing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles for operational deployment.”
Meanwhile, ten people have been killed overnight in anti-government protests sweeping Iran. On Monday, President Hassan Rouhani said: “Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people’s wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution.”
Back home, President Donald Trump began the New Year by sending an angry, early morning tweet criticizing Pakistan: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
And I begin my New Year with a goal of blogging through some Psalms this year. Psalm 2 throws a cold bucket of divine water on all the international plotting and power-plays. Psalm 2 calls all nations and world leaders to account, reminding them of the ultimate futility and folly of trying to push God aside to advance their own kingdoms.
Listen up Kim Jong Un! Pay attention Hassan Rouhani! Listen closely President Trump! Take heed all earth-leaders pushing for position!
PSALM 2 (The Message)
1-6 Why the big noise, nations?
Why the mean plots, peoples?
Earth-leaders push for position,
Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks,
The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers:
“Let’s get free of God!
Cast loose from Messiah!”
Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.
At first he’s amused at their presumption;
Then he gets good and angry.
Furiously, he shuts them up:
“Don’t you know there’s a King in Zion? A coronation banquet
Is spread for him on the holy summit.”
This ancient poem goes back centuries before Christ’s birth, but prophesied the future coronation of the Messiah who would one day be enthroned in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. We have the privilege of living on the other side of its fulfillment in history, and know that coronation banquet was spread for Christ the King on the holy summit called Calvary, where his throne was a cross and his crown was of thorns. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first mark the birthday of this Messiah. Read carefully.
7-9 Let me tell you what God said next.
He said, “You’re my son,
And today is your birthday.
What do you want? Name it:
Nations as a present? continents as a prize?
You can command them all to dance for you,
Or throw them out with tomorrow’s trash.”
We just celebrated the birthday of the World’s True King, the Son of God, who came to establish justice among the nations and usher in his Kingdom of Peace. The newborn king in a Bethlehem manger would begin his ministry some 30 years later by being driven into the wilderness where Satan offered to give him all the nations of the world if he would just bow down and worship him (Matt. 4:8).
Just before this, the Messiah was baptized in the Jordan River and confirmed with the words, ““You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). While Christ the King has the authority to command all nations to dance for him, or throw all evil dictators and prideful demagogues “out with tomorrow’s trash”, we know this King would rather offer forgiveness and an opportunity for repentance. And so let us all start off our 2018 with a stern warning — a warning for both world leaders and ordinary individuals alike (for we each have our own rebel kingdoms we’re busy building):
10-12 So, rebel-kings, use your heads;
Upstart-judges, learn your lesson:
Worship God in adoring embrace,
Celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah!
Your very lives are in danger, you know;
His anger is about to explode,
But if you make a run for God—you won’t regret it!
What a gloriously severe wake up call and invitation! The ball has dropped on Time Square, and the gavel of God’s Divine Justice will likewise someday drop for us all. Today we begin a new year, and are given two options: First, we can choose to “worship God in adoring embrace” and “celebrate in trembling awe” Christ our King. If we make a run for God, we won’t have any regrets for 2018. Or, second, we can continue our conspiring against God, insisting on building our own rebel kingdoms, and putting our own lives in danger of God’s coming wrath.
While the daily news headlines may threaten to steal our peace and make us anxious, let all believers anchor themselves in the story of unfolding history given to us in Scriptures. For we know that the King of Kings and Prince of Peace has already come, conquered, inaugurated his Kingdom, ascended to his Heavenly throne, is sovereign over history and reigning through his church, and is coming again to establish His reign in full.
So, listen up Kim Jong Un! Pay attention Hassan Rouhani! Listen closely President Trump! Take heed all earth-leaders pushing for position! The Word of the Lord has spoken, and the Psalmist recommends one New Year’s Resolution for 2018:
“Use your heads…learn your lesson…KISS MESSIAH!”
Someday the knees of every world leader will bow down and kiss his feet. Let’s choose to do it now, willingly and with a grateful heart.
“God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10).