A true king - Psalm 2
Let me tell you some awe inspiring facts about a particular country. Last year, this country had a defence budget of $379 billion after a recent rise of 14 per cent, the biggest rise in 20 years. This defence budget is larger than the combined total of the next nine biggest defence spenders. It is responsible for about 40 per cent of the world's military spending.
This country has 247,000 troops and civilians posted overseas, with a presence in more than 130 countries, covering every time zone. It has a Department of Defence which employs 1.4 million people on active duty. It has more employees than ExxonMobil, Ford, General Motors and GE combined. Its Department of Defence owns 40,000 properties, covering 18 million acres of land and buys enough fuel every day to drive a car around the world 13,000 times.
This country operates a fleet of more than 15,000 aircraft, including 20 stealth bombers in service. The navy operates more than 1,000 ocean going vessels. Its military headquarters employs 23,000 workers and incorporates over 17 miles of corridors.
This country spends an average of $28,000 on research and development for each member of its armed forces compared to the European average which is a meagre $7,000. $25 billion a year goes for the operation and maintenance of its nuclear arsenal.
If you haven't guessed already, the country I'm talking about is the United States of America.
These are impressive statistics aren't they? and these statistics make the U. S. A. a very powerful world ruler. Now I don't know about you, but I find that getting my head around this kind of power, is very difficult. I struggle to fully comprehend $1 million dollars let alone $379 billion.
I struggle to comprehend the damage that one atomic bomb is capable of, let alone the nuclear arsenal that the U. S. has at its disposal.
I think that it's fair to say that the might and power behind this world ruler is difficult for us normal people to fully grasp. But as awesome as this world power is, I want to tell you about a king who is even more powerful and this Psalm, Psalm 2 is a reminder to us that although the kings of the earth are indeed impressive, compared to God's chosen king they are nothing.
So let's take a look at this mighty king.
1. The Power of the King
Well the first thing we need to understand is that this king is God's king and we can see that from the title that appears at the end of verse 2, the king is given the title The Anointed One. Now that's a bit of a strange title isn't it?
But actually it's a title that is used a lot all through the Bible and we still hear it a lot today, but we hear it in a different language. You see the Greek word Christos which is pronounced Christ in English, simply means Annointed One and so does the Hebrew word Messiah. Now the anointed one is simply God's chosen King. A king chosen by God, anointed by God's priests to lead God's people. And all through the Old Testament we see many Christs, or Messiahs or, anointed ones and that is what this Psalm is speaking about, an anointed one, God's King. Look down at verse 6 God says "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
So this King is installed by God and look at what God has said to him in verses 7 -8:
"You are my Son, today I have become your Father. Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession!"
Now this king has some phenomenal God given power isn't he? Look God calls him his son, he's known as the Son of God! But not only this, God will hand over the whole world to him, the ends of the earth will belong to this king, he will rule over everything!! All of creation, It's big stuff. That's serious power. You definitely don't want to get on the wrong side of this king.
But look at the way in which the nations respond to God and his king, look down at verses 1 - 3:
"Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains", they say, "and throw off their fetters.""
It's interesting isn't it? It seems that world does not want to submit to this king. They plot against him, they take a stand against him. They don't want to live under his authority. "Let's break their chains" they say.
"We don't want to be under these people, let's rebel, let's get out. We're the rulers here, we want to be in charge, we don't want any God and we don't want God's king sitting over us and ruling us."
So they conspire and plot and stand against God and his King. But notice that in verse one, they plot in vain. Why, well look at verse 9. Again God is speaking to his Anointed One and he says:
"You will rule over them with an iron sceptre, you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
God's king will not tolerate their rebellion. You see in this Psalm, the nations are guilty of a horrific crime. They are trying to de-throne God, they are trying to take him out of the picture. Now why is this so serious? Well let's consider the following questions.
Who made the World? Who knows for a fact the way the world is meant to work, the way lives are meant to be lived? Who knows how to make the universe run smoothly, who knows the meaning of life, who knows how to bring total satisfaction to every human being? Who has the right to rule over us ?God. But it seems that humanity doesn't want this. They don't want God, they don't want his King, they want to get rid of him. They want to blow him away like J. F. K.
But they can't. And God's king will have justice. They will be punished for their crime and the punishment is awful. Look at the imagery. The picture is of this mighty King, this mighty Christ, the anointed one, with a great big iron stick and he's smashing the nations to pieces. They thought they were so powerful, but before the King of God, they are like weak bits of pottery and he smashes them.
In December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbour.
In the movie that came out a few years ago about Pearl harbour, there is an incredible scene where one of the Japanese soldiers congratulates one of the superiors in charge of the Japanese victory. It had been a great day for Japan, they had stood against that mighty rich Country called America and they had won. But the Japanese superior turns to his men and he says this "I'm afraid that all we have succeeded in doing is to awaken a sleeping giant."
4 years later. America dropped 2 Atomic bombs on Japanese soil. The atomic bomb named "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 bomber, at 8:15 in the morning of August 6, 1945.
At least 100, 000 people died. 5 days later Japan surrendered. They simply could not stand against that kind of power, the world had never seen or known of anything like it.
Well that is the picture here.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not out to justify or condemn the bombing of Hiroshima that is not my aim right now, but what I want you to see is that God's power is overwhelming. Nothing can or will, stand against him. The rebels will be punished, there is no competition. The world cannot stand against God. Not even the U. S. A. with its $379 billion a year military budget could stand against the power of this King, that's what Psalm 2 is saying.
But notice this Psalm is not all doom and gloom, because we haven't yet looked at verses 10 - 12. You see not only is this King a powerful King, but he is also a merciful King. So let's take a look at the....
2. The Mercy of the King
Fortunately, verse 9 does not have to be the end, there is a "therefore" look down at verses 10 - 12.
"Therefore, you kings, be wise, be warned you rulers of the earth, serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him."
It seems that there two choices. Either you can be a rebel and be smashed to pieces, or you can submit to God and his King and receive blessing. You see really this psalm is a warning to those who stand against God. They are heading towards a terrible judgement, but it doesn't have to be that way. If they serve the Lord, if they take refuge in the Son, in the Christ, in the Anointed One, then there is mercy and blessing.
Now that's all very well, but when we get to the end of the Old Testament, we're left with a bit of a problem. You see this Christ spoken about in Psalm 2 never showed up. Oh there were plenty of Christs but never one like this.
Some of them were indeed powerful and feared by their enemies, but none ruled the whole earth and at the end of the Old Testament, the enemies of God's people overcome and the Christ loses.
So the question we're left asking is this: Who is this Christ that has been written about here? Who are we supposed to take refuge in, is the Old Testament just plain wrong?
Well let's turn to this question now. Let's look at the identity of the King.
3. The Identity of the King
Well when we turn to the New Testament we quickly see that if we finish our studies on God's King in the Old Testament then we will not have the full picture. We find that in the book of Acts the identity of this king is spelt out clearly, so please turn with me to Acts chapter 4: 23 - 27 and you can find this on page ..... of the read Bibles. It says:
"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord" they said "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One." Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed."
Now did you notice anything familiar in verses 25 and 26? Psalm 2 is actually quoted here in this passage and verse 27 identifies the anointed one for us, look down at it:
"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed."
You see the Psalm is being applied to Jesus, he is the Anointed One, he is God's King, he is the Christ, that's why he's called Jesus Christ, it's not just some rare first century surname, it means he is the almighty king of Psalm 2!
But verse 27 tells us something else that is very interesting. You see part of Psalm 2 has already been fulfilled. According to verse 27 the nations have already conspired against the Lord and his anointed, they tried to break his chains by killing him. But there is more. You see if we read on in the New Testament we would quickly see that the conspiring and raging and plotting and turning away is far from finished. And actually every single human is guilty of this. All people rebel against their maker and the King he has raised up.
Now when we think about this carefully we soon realise that this is in fact very bad news. Because if the first part of Psalm 2 is already being fulfilled, then we know that we are waiting for the second part of the Psalm to be fulfilled also. And this second part of Psalm 2 is terrifying. Let me read to you from another passage of the New Testament. I want to read to you Revelation Chapter 19: 11 - 21. Just try to listen because the imagery spells out clearly what is coming. But let me warn you it is very difficult to listen to.
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."
He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."
Now this is a side to Jesus that we don't see very much. When I first became a Christian I used to come across a lot of Christian posters stuck up in various church buildings. And on these posters there would be a lovely little kitten playing with a butterfly, or there would be some little bunny rabbits cuddling each other. And then across the top of the poster there would be written something like "Jesus is your best friend", or "Jesus Loves you" or something like that. And it was all very nice because it made Jesus like a little fluffy kitten who is all nice and lovely.
But this is a far cry from what we are reading about here in Psalm 2 and Revelation. Now I don't know if you picked it up, but Psalm 2 was quoted in Revelation 19 as well it was in verse 15:
Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron sceptre."He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
You see Revelation is showing us Jesus, administrating the justice of God on those who have rebelled against him. And whilst this picture is just and fair, it is also terrifying and because we are all rebels, because we have all turned away from God and tried to rule ourselves without him, we are all headed for this judgement. It's scary stuff.
But do you remember that last section to Psalm 2?You see those verses I read out don't have to be the end of the story. You can take refuge in the Anointed One.
When Jesus Christ died on the Cross more was taking place than merely the humiliating death of some extreme religious teacher. As we have seen this was the death of God's King God's ultimate King, God's Son. When Jesus died upon that Cross he took upon himself all of our guilt, all of our rebellion, all that made us stand guilty before God and deserving of punishment. And What's more when Jesus died on that Cross he took the punishment that that all of that guilt and rebellion deserved.
Now if we will only take refuge in what he has done. If we will only trust in him to save us from the judgement we deserve. If we will only stop serving ourselves and turn around and serve the Lord, Then we will be blessed. Let me ask you have you done that, have you taken refuge in the Son?
Now it can be tough I know that, Following God in a world that has rejected him is not easy. And you may have noticed in that Acts passage that it is set in the context of Peter and John being released from the authorities where they were threatened. It wasn't easy then and it's not now. But Psalm 2 should encourage us and spur us on. If you are following the king then you are following the one who is the true ruler. It's worth sticking with him, things wont go on this way forever. There will come a time when the Anointed one will put an end to the rebellion. You're going the right way, you're going God's way, following God's king.
If this King is really the King the Bible claims he is then what is there in life that is more important than following him?
And what job is more important than telling others about him so that they too can take refuge in him. You see on the day that he returns, it won't matter how much time you spent in the office. It won't matter what promotions you got or how wonderful your career was. It won't matter that you got a first class degree. It wont matter that you have a nice house and car and family, or that you've travelled all over the world. The only thing that will matter is this have you taken refuge in the Lord? Have you given your life over to him.
Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
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