Posted by: lepages | August 30, 2011

The Lord reigns!

‘The Lord Reigns!’Psalm 2

So, time to catch up on a few of my preaches from the psalms. My last post was out of chronological order as I wanted to post it whilst still close to the events I referred to in it.

This preach, based in Psalm 2 was preached at Rutland Road Church on the 12th June. You can listen to the preach from the website here.

Jonathan Edwards, at the height of the Great Awakening, one of the greatest revivals in history, when many, many thousands of people found new life in Jesus Christ, preached one of the most well known sermons in history,
It goes under the title ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’ 8th July 1741.

In his sermon he preached about God’s anger and hatred against sin, and he preached about God’s incredible grace and mercy which holds back from immediately sending everyone to hell, which is what we deserve, because he wants to reveal to people the wonder of his grace through the Lord Jesus Christ, in how he took the judgement and punishment in our place so we can now, by his grace receive the gift of new life, be reconciled to God and find joy in God.

Psalm 2 echoes with a similar blend of God’s anger and his grace.

It begins with a question, responds with God’s response – in anger and in grace, and concludes with some wise advice.

The Question – WHY????
Why do the nations conspire? (or rage?) v1

The Amplified Bible puts it:-
‘Why do the nations assemble with commotion (uproar and confusion of voices) and why do the people imagine (meditate upon and devise) an empty scheme?

The New Living Translation:-
‘Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?’

What are the nations conspiring and raging about?

V2 makes it clear

‘The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.’

If, as this psalm was written, nations were gathering together, conspiring and plotting to bring down God’s people, nothing has changed since! It has been consistent throughout history
but in truth, they have never succeeded!

That’s why the psalm writer says, they do it in vain!!

The reality is that leaders of nations, people of influence in our world are still plotting in the same way, still conspiring against the people of God and supremely against the One to whom they gather.

Listen to any debate or discussion on the radio or the TV and you are likely to come across secular humanists who will argue that a Christian view should not be tolerated, because it indoctrinates people. Christian perspectives should not be brought in to our schools because it influences our children’s thinking. We should not have a say on matters of morality because we seek to restrict freedom in our society today.

This week saw discussion about a new government proposal to ask people in the medical services, in social services to flag up anyone who has an ideology which may lead to terrorist activity. I heard one heated debate on the radio between a secular humanist and a leading Muslim spokesperson. The debate wasn’t about terrorism as such, but about whether different ideologies should be tolerated. The secular humanist, head of a department at the University of Buckingham said that any ideology which was in any way in conflict with a modern, Western, liberal ideology should be exposed and not tolerated. The Muslim representative said that it should not be the ideology which should be not tolerated, but wrong actions arising out of that ideology. The secular humanist was virulent in his position that no ideology which is out of line with a modern Western, liberal ideology should be tolerated.

His perspective would have clashed big time not only with a Muslim ideology, but also with a Christian one.

Why should a secular humanist ideology be somehow seen as superior to any other and therefore not guilty of in and of itself indoctrinating people with its own views of our world, its values and approach to life?

The psalm writer quotes in v3 some people of his or her day.
‘Let us break their chains and throw off their fetters.’

The NET Bible puts it:-
They say, ‘Let’s tear off the shackles they’ve put on us! Let’s free ourselves from their ropes!’

There is this feeling amongst so many in society (conscious or otherwise) that there is freedom in breaking away from God’s laws – that it will somehow bless us.

We are blessed with incredible freedom in our society – freedom which brings the highest level of school age pregnancy in Europe, sexual diseases, freedom which brings abortion and the killing of life with all its potential, freedom which brings alcoholism and nicotine addiction and other addictions, which destroy the health of life, freedom which leads to marriages falling apart with broken homes and devastated lives, freedom which binds people up in incredible levels of soul destroying debt.

How does God respond??
God’s response:- He laughs!

He doesn’t laugh with pleasure. He laughs with scorn.

You know the time when you laugh at something that you can hardly believe. You either have to laugh or cry.

Our God laughs at human rebellion, at human desires to rebel against him and his purposes, at the ‘achievements’ that human beings seek to put in place in their lives by ‘breaking off the chains of religion’ as some would put it.

NET Bible puts the verse well:-
‘The one enthroned in heaven laughs in disgust; the Lord taunts them.’

Have you ever found yourself looking at someone and their behaviour and found yourself feeling disgusted by it?
You might have found yourself laughing, not a laugh of joy, but a laugh of derision, sadness, frustration – I can’t believe that they did that!!

God knows how we feel at those times, because he feels the same when he looks at human beings and the way we have responded to him, to his laws which are there to protect us and give us a positive society in which to live.

Ever felt like (probably have done!!) saying, ‘Told you so!’

The Lord scoffs at people who live in disobedience to him. ‘Think it’ll do you good??!!’ And he says that we need to repent, to have a change of mind, a change of attitude where we turn back to him again, and acknowledge that our Creator knows better than we do, his creation.

There is then a tension in this scripture – because whilst it is full of Jesus, as we shall see shortly – it’s also written hundreds of years before Jesus went to the cross and there took on himself the anger and wrath of God against sin, which has so polluted and wrecked the beautiful creation which he made, of which he was able to stop and look at it and say it was ‘Very good.’

And so, in response as God looks at human beings and their rebellion, at their attempts to break free, he is angry

And so Jonathan Edwards preached about ‘sinners in the hands of an angry God.’

God is angry with you if you have not turned from your sin and received new life from Jesus.
He looks at the sin, the wrong stuff in our lives, the stuff we feel ashamed of, and it riles him big time. Why? Because it brings damage to his beautiful world. It brings damage to others as human beings. It brings damage to our own lives. And each of our lives is inherently valuable to God. Every human being is made in God’s image, in his likeness…. but every single human being, except one, has that image distorted, corrupted, twisted and spoilt….

Can you imagine making something wonderful and then having someone come and wreck it??!
ILLUSTRATE – painting, pottery, knitting, garden

That’s how God feels when he looks at what you and I have done with the gift of life which he has given to us…..

But as God bursts forth in his anger against human sin, disobedience and rebellion, he proclaims this incredible truth, v6,
‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’

He responds in grace

Who is this King?
Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One.
The one of whom he could say ‘This is my Son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.’
The one he would say of v7-9
‘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. You will rule them with an iron sceptre; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’

This Son whom he loved, was the One who would choose to bear our sin, and choose to bear the wrath of God against our sin on himself, as he went to the cross – there’s this wonderful word in the New Testament which isn’t commonly carried into modern English translations – its the word ‘propitiation’ – its commonly translated ‘atoning sacrifice’ – it means to turn wrath away. Jesus in his sacrifice turns the wrath of God away from us, by taking our sin on himself and God’s wrath against our sin.

But we have to appropriate that position for ourselves.

The Father tells the Son to ask him for the nations – and he does. He takes the sin of the nations on himself, but we have to receive his gift of righteousness, to be robed instead with his purity and holiness, not our own feeble attempts, and surrender the wrong stuff in our lives to him. This is what it means to repent – to have a change of thinking – going God’s way, not our own, going in his power, by his Spirit, not in our own strength.

And so the psalm writer concludes with some:-
Wise Advice

READ v10-12
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 who take refuge in him.

I think these words apply to us all – not just the kings, the wise and the rulers of the earth – all of us.

So, in the light of God’s desire for us to live in a wonderful world where we know his blessing, do we want to stay in living our own way, or do we want to yield our lives to him?

Would we prefer to stay in our own ‘freedom’, having broken the chains and so have God laugh at the failure we make of our lives, and then come under his anger and his wrath as he comes against all that damages and destroys his beautiful creation?

The psalm writer suggests 3 things for us to do:-
1. Serve the Lord

He says to do it with fear. Not the fear of ‘I’m scared because you’re a nasty man.’
But the fear of respect – when you recognise the one you are serving is above you and is worthy of your respect.

He says:-
2. Rejoice in the Lord

He says rejoice with trembling.
How can you rejoice with trembling??!!
Ever been in the situation where you’re about to meet someone famous, who moves in different circles to you?
I have.
I remember finding myself standing next to Chrissie Wellington – world record holder for Ironman triathlon. She was happily chatting away with anyone, but I couldn’t find words to say – in awe that I was standing next to Chrissie Wellington!!

And I’ve known others who have had similar experiences. Their stories of excitement at what lies ahead, but of how they trembled at the prospect, nerves getting the better of them.

Last year I remember watching Paula Findlay on the television winning her first gold medal in the International Triathlon Union World Championships. The interview afterwards was quite moving as she professed her amazement at winning, as she shared of how nervous she was beforehand, going into competition with those whom she had looked up to, whom she felt in awe of, and could hardly believe she was standing next to, nervous of talking to.

That’s how we should be in our relationship with God.
In awe of whom we have personal access to – the Creator of all things – and as a result we should rejoice in him!!

The psalm writer’s third bit of advice is this:-
3. Kiss the Son

This is not some nice smoodgy kiss – it’s a custom of a world of a different era – perhaps it still exists in some cultures today, I don’t know.

In the culture of the time when the psalm writer wrote, the way in which a person would acknowledge another’s Lordship and Sovereignty over their lives, the way in which one ruler would yield to another was to come and bow down, and to kiss their feet – a sign of service, a sign of honour and a sign of respect.

The concept still exists as a phrase in some ways – children in their mock fights may sometimes still say in a moment of victory ‘Kiss my feet!’ – though generally, I don’t think they expect the other to do so!!

We need to come and metaphorically Kiss the Son – acknowledge him as Lord and Sovereign over our lives, bow our knees before him and yield our lives to his service, recognising that we can do nothing in and of ourselves – its all by his grace.

We have a mighty God who laughs at human beings petty schemes and ideas, who is fiercely angry against our rebellion and the resultant negative affects on our world, but who in his grace has turned that anger aside through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus, who is now installed as King.
Will we come and bow the knee before the one who gave his all that we might be his inheritance, his possession?


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