Why Do the Nations Conspire and the Peoples Plot in Vain?
3rd Wednesday in Lent
Text: Psalm 2
Unless your head has been buried in Entertainment or US Weekly, or your eyes glued to ESPN for March madness coverage, you have probably heard about the latest controversy with President Obama and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. These and other leaders of our government are pushing to pass into law that all insurance companies, even those of religious institutions, include coverage for contraceptives, medical procedures, and abortive drugs that are contrary to our beliefs and Scripture. This would mean that even if no one in our church or church body makes use of them, the money we pay in for insurance would make such drugs or procedures possible for others.
Clearly this is something we are against for many reasons. Christians around the country have been rallying to prevent this from passing. Even Missouri Synod president Pastor Matt Harrison was asked to speak before Congress about the topic. Christians are feeling the pressure on their faith, their beliefs, and their daily practices.
Recently, things may have gotten worse. The latest consideration is that religious institutions may opt out of this potential law, but they will be fined $100 per insured employee per day. If that were the case, our Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church Body would be fined around a quarter million dollars per day if it held fast to the truth of Scripture. When asked by a local pastor what he thought about the situation in the last few days, WELS President Mark Schroeder quipped, “I hope they have air conditioning in my cell.”
We don’t need to become all flustered and frazzled quite yet. We still don’t know exactly where this is going. This might be really, really bad for us. Or, this might just blow over as other things have.
But doesn’t it feel—just a bit at least—like the walls are closing in? Doesn’t seem like things are getting harder, not easier? Doesn’t it seem like the jokes about Christians being persecuted aren’t really funny anymore because they’re becoming a little too real?
This isn’t the first time God’s people have felt this way. In previous decades (and still now), the threat of Muslim terrorists has terrified us. Before that, communism threatened Christianity. In the 1500’s and through the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church controlled the world and threatened to kill and squash any who tried to reform the church. In the early centuries A.D. the Roman Empire slaughtered Christians left and right.
And before that, Jesus himself stood before Pontius Pilate and King Herod. Herod was so pleased to have Jesus in front of him. This “King of the Jews” was the only real threat to his rule over the Jews. It gave him great pleasure to mock and taunt Jesus. Weak and wishy-washy Pilate didn’t know what to do with Jesus. Yet he couldn’t wrap his head around Jesus being a King but not from this world.
From the time of Jesus to now, God’s people have been mocked and persecuted and even killed. This shouldn’t surprise us though since this was prophesied in Psalm 2: “Why to the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth 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.’”
I would imagine that you have never plotted against the Lord. I will guess that you have not conspired to kill any Christians lately. Yet lest we feel arrogant or innocent in this matter, we had better inspect our hearts first.
What is at the root in the heart of those who plot and conspire against the Lord? What is the sin buried deep down inside? When people take their stand against the Lord and try to break free from his will, they are trying to serve themselves and their own desires instead. And this we most certainly do too.
God tells us to love him above all other things, but we take our stand and find other things that are a little more important. God tells us to worship him with joy and gladness, but we dig our heels in and find other things that make us happy. God tells us to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, but we shout and pout like a two-year-old in a tantrum, “He hasn’t been nice to me.”
Oh, there are lots of things that God would have us do to obey him and show love for him. But we plot and conspire for ways that we can take our stand to do what suits our fancy instead. We don’t have to be persecuting Christians or taunting Jesus like Herod and Pilate to be sinners who make a mockery of God and who stand against his commands.
How does the Lord feel about all of this? Verse 4: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’”
There is nothing so insulting or so belittling as when someone laughs at you. You try really, really hard and put in all your effort, but then someone just laughs at you and makes fun of you. That is awful!
The Lord laughs at those who stand against him. The communists, the terrorists, the evolutionists, the atheists—they all try really, really hard and put in all their effort to stand against the Lord, but they can’t. They have no true power. The Lord laughs at their attempts.
But then the fun and games are over as, “He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath.” The kings and unbelievers of this world ought cower in fear of the anger and wrath of God. And we believers ought quiver and quake in humble sorrow and repentance for all the times we have sinfully tried to stand against the Lord. For none of us has the power or the glory of the real King who rules on Zion, on God’s holy hill.
Who is this King? The King speaks in verse 7: “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: 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, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Amid all the kings of the earth who clamor for power, amid all the peoples of the earth who claw for prestige, amid us sinners who join in trying to be little kings ourselves, there is only one King who takes his stand as the ruler of heaven and earth: The Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Here in this prophecy of Psalm 2 from around 3,000 years ago, God the Father announces something that has always been true, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” This was true before the creation of the world, this was true when this psalm was written, this was true when Jesus was born, this was true when Jesus was on the cross, this is true today. Jesus always has been and always will be the Son of God.
And as God’s Son, all power and authority belong to him. It certainly didn’t look like the ends of the earth are his possession as he was carted off between Pontius Pilate and King Herod. It certainly didn’t look like he rules with an iron scepter as the rod of the Romans crashed down on his head. It certainly didn’t look like he is King of kings as he was wearing a crown of thorns and hanging from a cross.
Yet this is because the King of heaven and earth is also the King of love. As Jesus is perfect King and holy God who burns with wrath and anger against sin, he is also the humble King and merciful God who burned with passion and care for his people. Though he is the King who demands justice and punishment, he himself became the one to receive it. Though he is the King demands death for sin, he himself died.
The kings and rulers of the world laugh as they see the gruesome crucifixion scene. They laugh as they see our King dead in a tomb. So they plot and conspire against us for believing in such foolishness, just as they plotted and conspired against Jesus.
But what their blinded eyes and hardened hearts cannot see is what we see with our eyes of faith. We see an empty tomb. We see a Savior raised to life and ascended on high. We see a mighty King now seated on his heavenly throne, triumphant over sin and Satan and death. We see the King of kings and Lord of lords using his enemies as his footstool, holding his iron scepter of power and ready to come back to judge on the Last Day and dash his enemies to pieces.
So we join the Lord in offering this warning to those who still reject our God: “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.”
The warning is clear. Those who continue to stand against the Lord and who do not serve him with fear and trembling will not win in the end. Those who do not “kiss” the Son and love Jesus will be destroyed when his wrath flares up on the Last Day. This is a warning we need to remember and a warning we need to share with others.
It may seem at times like the walls are closing in on us as the enemies of God circle round. Could it be that the downfall of America is coming? Maybe. Could it be that a real, physical, and violent persecution against Christians is coming? Maybe. Will it only get harder for us? Definitely.
But we take comfort in that last sentence: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” We take refuge in the King who humbled himself before Pilate and Herod and became obedient to death, even death on a cross, for us. We take refuge in the King who conquered all our enemies and destroyed the death we deserve. We take refuge in the King who now rules over heaven and earth for us and will bring us safely to his heavenly kingdom. This is our King. This is Christ the King.
Posted on March 15, 2012, in Church, Daily Devotions, Preschool and tagged Abortion, Church, Daily Devotions, Herod, Insurance, King, Pastor Mark Schroeder, Pastor Matt Harrison, Persecution, Pontius Pilate, President Obama, Psalm 2, Psalms, School, United States Department of Health and Human Services. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.