Thursday, May 28, 2020

Habakkuk 1:1-4 "Waiting for God's Answer"


This little prophecy really speaks important truths  into our  life. It addresses  the problem of God’s silence and seeming inactivity  at  times when you would have  expected  Him to act.

How  should we  understand God’s dealings with us in the process of history? Is history in the hands of God ? 
Or is He simply a remote deity that  may be compared  to  a watchmaker  making a watch, winding  it up  and  throwing  it into the desert waiting for its time to run out, remaining essentially uninvolved with the watch?
Or is He involved in history?  Is He “Yahweh – Jireh“, the Provider, or is  He  like many Namibian fathers  that not take care of their children  and  who are not involved in their lives?

I do not have to persuade you, that the  Scriptures portray God  as a caring, loving, heavenly Father.  He  not only has made the world (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3) but  He  also “sustains all things by the power of His  Word,” (Hebr.  1:3). 

The Psalms  are filled with affirmations of His providential love and care for all His creatures.  
He is involved in the  history of the world  (e.g. Psalm 2).  
He  knows His people, even before they are born (Psalm 139).   
He  deals with   stubborn and rebellious generations (Psalm 78:8)
He cares for the  birds of the air  and the lilies of the field (Matt. 6). 
He is  the God of all the earth (Psalm 24:1)  and  of the Universe (Psalm 19). 
He is the God of the Macro-cosmos and the Micro cosmos. He is the God of the infinity of space,  and He is the God of the atoms,  electrons , quarks [1]etc. 

Presbyterian theologian   RC Sproul once said,  “There is no ‘maverick molecule ‘ in the Universe’ . He indwells all things and all things hold together in Him- that is how intimately God relates  to all created things.

Here’s the question.  If God  is so involved in this world how come  He feels so far away at times? Many people would argue   that   great tragedies  in the world  (tsunamis ; earthquakes ;  epidemics and  diseases; famines,  man’s  unrestrained cruelty) would indicate  that God doesn’t really  care about this world which He has created.

This is where  Habakkuk finds himself. If you had asked Habakkuk at this point  whether he felt that God was caring for Him or for his country,   the nation of Israel , He would have perhaps initially said,  "I don’t know ! He seems to have abandoned us! 
This  sentiment is discerned in  1:2-3:   O LORD, how long shall I cry for help and you will not hear? Or cry out to you “Violence” and you will not save? Why do you make  me see iniquity, and why do you look idly at wrong?

SITUATION IN ISRAEL IN HABAKKUK’S TIMES

Habakkuk  is a contemporary of Jeremiah ( which dates this  writing roughly  between 605-600 BC).   This is a time when Israel is at an all - time spiritual low, and it showed in her  moral and spiritual life.   Habakkuk was greatly troubled by  what he was seeing.  As a prophet he knew that the spiritual state of his nation was due to their own neglect of God.  Israel had forgotten her  God. She was following other gods. Sin and immorality are rampant. In justice prevails (1:3). Destruction and violence abounds  in society. This always happens when the   law  is disregarded.  Listen to how  Habakkuk puts it in 1:4:  So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”   There was serious spiritual apathy, which went hand in hand with a general moral,  judicial  and political decline.

THE PROBLEM

At this point  Habakkuk  did not understand why God allowed it all. He  had been praying  to  God  for help (1:2)  but God did not answer! This is the  problem, and  this  easily becomes  a snare to many people. Why does a good God  not intervene  when the wicked surround the righteous?  It was not that Habakkuk wasn’t  wanting  God to deal with sinful Israel.   He was not defending  the evil  in the nation. He was  after all a prophet of God, and he had this   oracle (lit. a burden) on his heart and mind.    His problem was this: Why is God  not acting ?  Why is He so quiet?
I wonder whether  you  perhaps feel the  same at times? I confess that as a  pastor  with a burden for this nation, I often feel like this. I  know that  many Christians are overwhelmed at the rampant evil in our society and they are asking,  why does God not do anything  about this ?

THE ANSWER 

The answer is   in coming. God is not sleeping  on the job. The answer  to what He is going to do is for the  next semon Right now  we simply want to deal with the  state of mind in  which we find ourselves when we   perceive  that  God does not appear  to act  when we think  that He should. We need to talk about  our response to God's seeing inactivity. 

There is, of course a presupposition  behind our question, “Why does God not act?” .  That is due to the fact that we  use the Bible in a  particular way.  Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones [2] drew my attention to this fact. He writes,   “We tend to use  the Bible  as a text book  of personal salvation. Many people  seem to think  that the sole theme of the Bible is our personal relationship with God. Of course that is one of the central themes… but that is not the only theme in the Bible. Indeed, we can go so far as to say that the Bible puts the question of personal salvation  into a larger context. Ultimately the main message of the Bible concerns the condition of the entire  world and its destiny; and you and I, as individuals, are  a part of that larger  whole…”

The problem occurs when we look at  our world  from   a  limited, self- centered  perspective and when we fail to take into account the   grand message of the Bible  concerning the world and its destiny. This is the problem which we find in Habakkuk’s mind at this time. He could not reconcile what he was seeing , with what he was believing.

A similar example  of this sort of perplexity is found in  Psalm 73.  There the Psalmist confesses that he had almost stumbled. His feet had almost slipped. He had a faith crisis  when  he  considered how the wicked always seemed to prosper, while God  fearing men like  himself  always seemed to struggle. In fact he seems to begin to believe by and by that  his faith had been all in vain. The  more he tried to work this out in his mind, the more depressed he became. But thankfully the turning point   came for him in  Psalm 73:17, “… until I  went into the sanctuary of God ; then I discerned their end…”. 
It was not until he had  understood the big picture  i.e.  God’s perspective   on the entire  matter, that he began to  see the true future of the wicked. That  new perspective changed  everything for him, even though  the  prosperous and  arrogant people  in that 73rd  Psalm seemed  at this stage to  have continued  in the same frame of mind.

WHY THIS PROPHECY IS  SO VALUABLE TO US AT THIS TIME 

1.        We  need   a grand perspective of God’s  plan for  the world  in history. Does God’s silence and His choosing not to answer our prayers ( according to our desire) have anything to do with the fact that He is  not involved  with this world? Habakkuk will teach us that  this is not so. We shall learn that God’s silence and His non-answers to  our prayers are still to our benefit.  And, for that  matter  aren’t you  glad that God  does not answer every one of your often self centered and self focussed  prayers that tend to exclude eeryone and everything else?  For that matter too, aren’t you glad that  He did not answer Jesus’ prayer in the garden : ”Lord let this cup pass from me?

2.        Secondly, Habakkuk will teach us , that things in history sometimes get worse before they may get better.  The divine surgeon has to cut before He heals. We  may be assured that  He always heals  His people – even if only beyond the curtain of death.

3.        Thirdly,  Habakkuk will teach us something about the apparent discrepancy between what we see and what we believe. Habakkuk was greatly troubled by what he saw. The problem was that he could not reconcile what he saw with what he believed.  He knew that God  had  to punish his nation. That was clear to him. He knew that God is holy and that his eyes were too pure to behold sin. But what he could not understand was that God could  use  means, which to Habakkuk’s mind were  unthinkable. In this case we  shall discover that God will use the Babylonians, a nation of idolaters  and ruthless people – to punish His chosen  Hebrew nation!

Now this all serves as an introduction.  We may need  to  prepare ourselves to correct our stereo- typical thinking of God. Habakkuk  was guilty of stereo-typical thinking. The value of reading the prophet Habakkuk  is that we might obtain new insights into the  nature of God’s  often perplexing working in this world.  And perhaps we will begin to understand why  things are as they are in the world.   There is wonderful scope  to broaden our spiritual horizons in this book. And perhaps a few of us will make a quantum leap in our understanding as we begin to understand the  nature of  the sovereignty of God.  There is wonderful scope to  learn  true humility. There is wonderful scope to live more by faith and  in dependence upon His grace. 



[1] A quark  is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei
[2] Martyn Lloyd Jones:  Faith tried and Triumphant  (IVP) , p.4

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Revelation 20:1 - 10 "Living in the Millenium"


On Thursday we remembered the Ascension of our Lord. In 10 days we will remember Pentecost. The next big item on our Lord’s calendar is His second coming.   It is fitting therefore that this Sunday after the Ascension  we should think about the  next  great event on God's calendar - the second coming!

The text before us is very challenging, and I tell you why.  Revelation 20, some believe  and teach is the proof text  that  there will be,  after  Christ’s  coming, a literal, millennial (thousand year) reign on earth, a time when Christ reigns over the nations here on earth.  
They also   speak of two comings of Christ. The first coming is called the secret rapture,  and the other coming  is called   the revelation. 

The  rapture, they say occurs  when   the Lord Jesus  takes His people, the church,  secretly out of the world (i.e. not a public event) and   before the  great tribulation which is coming upon the world. The  revelation  is said to be a time after  the  tribulation, when Jesus comes visibly (i.e. He is revealed), and He comes with the previously raptured saints,  ushering in the  millennial kingdom  on earth. 
They  teach that   during  the 1000 years  of Christ’s earthly reign Satan will be bound and thrown into the bottomless pit for a thousand years.  Accordingly, Christ will rule the nations on earth from Jerusalem. However, after a  1000 years  of peace, they say  that   Satan will be released for a short time,  in which he causes renewed havoc  on earth, after which  the ultimate judgment and  end will come. 
But is this what Revelation 20 is teaching?  

The problem begins with the way in we read the book of Revelation. Two principles ought to  govern our understanding and reading of the book of Revelation:

(i) Spiritual truths in the Revelation are  described in mostly symbolic and not literal language. 
(ii)  The Revelation does not present a linear history of events. The Revelation is a series of cyclical repetitions of the events that occur between Christ’s ascension and His descension, as seen from different angles.  This is not to say that there is no forward movement in the Revelation. There is! Everything steadily progresses and moves to the end, but as we said, it moves forward  in cyclical fashion. 

We observe then that in this regard Chapter 20 does not follow the events of Chapter19.  Chapter 20 depicts another vision, another cycle, which like the other cycles describes the entire period between the first and second coming of Jesus.  What follows now in chapter 20  is another  cycle, another retelling of God’s dealing with the world  and  its final judgment from yet another  perspective.  
At the  end  of  Revelation 19:18 we  read of the  final judgement  of  all people and nations at Christ’s return. In Chapter 20  this  is repeated, but with a different emphasis.  This is, as I said  a typical  pattern found in John’s  Revelation. The relationship between  Chapters 19  and 20  is not a chronological one.  Revelation 20 stands independently.

What then is happening in Revelation 20? The BIG picture

In order to make sense of this we will have to go back to 12:7-9.  There we find a description of what happened to Satan, when he was engaged in a war in heaven with the heavenly angels under the leadership of the archangel Michael.  Satan, at that time was thrown down to the earth. He lost his place in heaven.This all happened when Jesus, at His first coming, began His messianic, gospel ministry on earth. You will remember that  Satan did his utmost to  kill  Jesus  the Messiah. He tried this  first at His birth, when  under Herod  there was an edict to kill all baby boys, which was in reality   an attempt made to  kill  Christ (Matt 2:16-18). Then Satan tried to tempt  Christ in Matt. 4:1-11, in order to get him to compromise and to sin  as our first parents did. But Jesus resisted Satan firmly and He did not sin. In fact, He  proved that  the  kingdom of God had come,  with every demon cast out, with every healing  and miracle done, with  every person  raised from the dead. All these were signs that someone greater and mightier than Satan was here!  The gospel of Jesus systematically  robbed Satan of his power and of his subjects.
Satan’s ultimate defeat  however occurs at the cross, after he  thought that he had disposed of Christ. So, when Christ  rose  from the dead, He  not only  overcame  death, but He triumphed over Satan. Colossians 2:15  says  that, “He (Christ on the cross)  disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

Now what is the effect of Christ’s   first coming upon Satan?  The answer is that Satan was bound by Christ’s appearance!  How was Satan bound? Was he bound with literal chains?  No! Satan is a spirit being. He cannot be bound with literal chains.  Satan  was bound by the preaching of the gospel! In Luke 10:1-20   Jesus sends out 72 disciples to preach the gospel. They came back and reported to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons submit in your name”, to which Jesus replied, “I  saw Satan fall like lightning  from heaven.”   (Luke 10:18). Satan is bound by the preaching of the gospel.

Jesus is reigning  NOW. The millennial reign of Christ is NOW.  Satan is bound NOW. The millennial reign of our Lord Jesus follows the cross, resurrection and ascension. Following  His ascension  He is now enthroned in heaven, ruling over  everything tfrom His throne, even now praying for His people (Romans 8). After this He shall return again to judge the living and the dead. We also know that the  present earth and heavens will be  destroyed and recreated  by Christ.

Revelation 20 is a description of  this present gospel age and not of a future age to  come.  The future age is the new Heavens and the new earth. Let us  follow  the logic of Scripture as it unfolds in Revelation 20:1-10. 

Revelation 20

Begins a new vision - Throughout the Book of Revelation, whenever John uses the phrase  “kai eidon” (And  I saw) he is introducing a new vision.

20:1-3  The Binding of Satan

What John sees: He sees an angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the bottomless pit and  a great  chain  with which  Satan  is bound.Who is the angel and  what  is the meaning of the key to the bottomless pit  (Gr. abyss)  and the  chain?
In Rev. 1:18 we see that Christ holds the keys of death and hades in his hand.  Take note also of  Rev. 9:1-2,  where a star  that had fallen from heaven was  given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit etc.  The bottomless pit is a reference to death and Hades, the present  realm of Satan. So, having been cast of out heaven (Rev.12:7-9), John now sees an angel (either Christ himself, or an angel exercising Christ’s authority) confining Satan to the realm of the dead for a specified time (1000 years) and  for a specific purpose  - so he  cannot deceive the nations. 

The binding of Satan does not mean that his evil activities completely cease during this time.  It simply means that he is not as free to do as he pleases. Satan is bound, like a dangerous dog  on a long chain. In  John  Bunyan‘s Pilgrims Progress,   there is  an anxious moment where Christian, on his  way to the heavenly city  has to pass between some lions.  He grows fearful, but  a man called ‘Watchful’ reminds him  that  these lions were  kept on a chain.  If he would keep to the path he would be safe.  This is a great illustration in terms of how Satan is bound.  If you keep your distance from his territory you will be safe. If you get within the radius of the chain you will be in trouble.  If you stay with Christ you are safe.

So then it is not that Satan ceases all activity during Christ’s millennial reign. He is thrown down to the earth, but he is bound by the gospel so that he cannot   hinder the work of the true church. Jesus said, “ I will build my church and the  gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of  the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth  shall be loosed  in heaven.”  (Matt. 16:18,19). We have seen this in the history of the world of the last 2000  years. The Roman empire tried to get rid  of  the church. Today we go and visit Roman ruins!  Mao Tse Tung  and Lenin and Stalin and Hitler and many other communist dictators tried to get  rid of the  church. Well, they are all dead, and the church continues. 

It will only be at the very end, just   before Christ’s visible second  coming   that  Satan will be set loose,  by God’s  sovereign decree for a little while,  and he  will achieve  what is described  in  11:7-10.  The church  of that period will undergo a very hard time, but until that time comes, he is bound.  

20:4-6  The scene now shifts to heaven.

Throughout the Book of Revelation, thrones are always in heaven, not on the earth. Therefore, this scene is in heaven. On the thrones are those to whom authority is given to judge. See Jesus speaking of this  in  Matthew 19:28 and  Luke 22:28-30.
And then there are, according to John, “souls” (Gr.psuchas)  - the  spirits of those who were killed for refusing to worship the beast.  When they die, John says, they immediately come to life and they reign with Christ for a 1000 years! They are reigning with Him in heaven right now!

The rest of the dead, those who did not die as martyrs, did not come to life until the 1000 years were ended (i.e. until the second coming). They have shared in the first resurrection over which the second death has no power. This needs some explanation!   
The first resurrection is not a reference to the bodily resurrection at the end of the age, but it refers to a believer’s new birth. When you are born again, you are literally made alive through regeneration, conversion, and finally  through  entrance into heaven at death, a point confirmed by a number of New Testament passages, most notably John 5:24-25, where Jesus says,“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
John teaches very clearly in his gospel that all those who come to faith in Jesus Christ have crossed over from death to life. When you become a Christian you experience the first resurrection. You cross over from death to life! 

20: 7-10  What happens at the end of the thousand years?   

According to v.7, “when the thousand years are  ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will  come out to deceive the nations…”  etc.

The focus shifts back again to the earth, to those days before the return of Jesus Christ. Satan and his chronies will be released from his prison for a little while.  With the help  of the  great prostitute, the anti-Christ and the false prophet,   Satan will  now be  able  to deceive the nations for the  purpose of trying to get rid of the church of Jesus Christ.  Notice the  reference  to  Gog and Magog (cf. Ezekiel. 38 & 39). This is  a  prophecy in which gentile nations attack Israel en masse – like a cloud covering the land (Ez.  38:16)   John has already referred to this final battle when the nations gather to make war on the church in Rev. 16:12-16,   the battle of Armageddon, at  which the devil and all his associates are finally and definitely defeated.

SUMMARY

Revelation 20:1-6, is not a description of a future millennial reign of Christ upon the earth. It is a description of Satan’s limited power  right  now, while the gospel  has its way  in the earth right now.  Satan is bound. All the true  sheep of Christ must be called out of this present  kingdom of darkness  and be brought into Christ's kingdom of light (John 10).
We also  read of the present reign of the saints in heaven. And in heaven, those who have suffered at the hands of  Satan’s beast, these are now protected from Satan’s assaults, for Satan no longer has access to heaven, having been cast down to earth (Rev.12:7ff). 
The saints – the church of Jesus,  now rule and reign for a symbolic  thousand years as priests of Jesus Christ as His kingdom advances  all over the earth. 
But there will be a time, a final brief  time  when all hell will break loose, and were it not for  Christ’s sudden return  it would be terrible: “And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short (Matt. 24:22).

Furthermore, Revelation 20:7-10 describes what happens when Jesus Christ returns to earth in judgment.  Jesus comes to rescue his church in it’s  greatest  trial, at which time  Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire  together with the great prostitute , the beast and the false prophet. 
All that remains then is the final judgment, which is described in verses 11-15 – the  great white throne judgement – the final judgement.  

Each true  believer may look forward to the second coming of Christ, which  will be visible (and not secret or in two stages). 
When Jesus comes no one will be mistaken. Every eye will see Him. 
We may look forward to the end of the age and to the recreation of the  heavens and the earth – the idea of a millennial reign  on earth seems muddled  and problematic. 
When Christ returns at His second coming we may look forward to  our resurrection bodies and life everlasting in a perfect world where there are no traces  of sin and  Satan. 
Even so Lord Jesus, come! Amen


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Psalm 2: Who is really in charge of this World?


This second  Psalm provides us with a  wonderfully God centered  worldview  for times  such as these,  when the world   is  so topsy turvy, and so disparaging and opposed to the  kingdom of  the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many   Christians are fearful as they consider what the future might hold, and as they ask, “Why do the nations do this?” 

General
This Psalm was written nearly three thousand years ago, probably by David the king of Israel. It is a Messianic Psalm. We know this because this Psalm is directly applied to the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 4: 25, 26, Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5.  In the book of Acts 4:25ff the church had only just come into being, and already she was being persecuted. Two of the leaders of the early church, Peter and John, had been arrested. They had been examined and   condemned by the Jewish authorities. They had been warned not to preach and teach in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. Then they were set free and they went back to their church   and reported what the chief priests and elders had said. We are told that the moment that the church heard this, they prayed, and in that prayer they were   quoting Psalm 2.

Outline  
1.  Vv. 1-3: The opposition against the kingdom of the Messiah
2. Vv 4-6: The divine   response and declaration to the madness of the world
3. Vv. 7 -9:  The LORD proclaims the new era of the reign of the Messiah  
4. Vv. 10 -12: Advice is given to the kings of the earth to fear the Messiah

There is obviously a historical background to this Psalm. It is not easy to figure out what occasion David was alluding to. There is also this mysterious references to a king who was greater than David (see also Psalm 110:1).
The best answer to this intrigue is that even though David was describing something that was happening in his own day, he was speaking prophetically. By faith he was speaking of what was going to happen when the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater Son of David, would come into this world. The rulers of Jesus’ day truly set themselves against   Him, and by implication, against God the Father. And today the nations, peoples, kings and rulers do the same. The true church has always found she raged against in the world. The eternal relevance of the Bible is hereby confirmed. Something that happened 1000 years ago has relevance and application to the church born at Pentecost. And 3000 years later it has relevance and application to our own day. A situation that has occurred in past distant history is used to explain the present.  

I.                        Vv. 1-3 : The opposition against the kingdom of the Messiah

The Psalmist starts with a question, Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Vv.  1-3)

This is really MORE than a question. The Psalmist is expressing his amazement. "Why are the nations doing this? “. This is what we ask ourselves when we look at our present world - when we see a world opposed to biblical Christianity! We are not talking here about institutional Christianity. We are here talking about churches and individuals that uphold the gospel and gospel values. We are talking about those who preach that this Messiah King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the ONLY way by which a person will be admitted into the kingdom of God the Father- the Creator God. We are talking about those who uphold kingdom values NOW. The law of God is written in their hearts, and they will uphold it. They will honour God in setting Him apart as holy. They will uphold a biblical view of creation. They will uphold a biblical view of sin – and they will uphold the only biblical cure for sin. They will shun idols- even the idols of the heart. They shall not use the Name of the Lord in vain. They shall set aside one day in seven to worship God.  Parents will be duly honoured. They will uphold the biblical view of marriage. They will uphold the sanctity of the family. They will stand for biblical ethics.  They will uphold the biblical view of human sexuality and of gender identity. Murder will be called what it is- a shedding of blood. They will uphold the rights of the unborn to live. They will uphold the sanctity of life. Adultery will be called what it is – breaking up another marriage. Stealing, the giving of false witness and covetous hearts are taken seriously and dealt with accordingly.
The nations rage … the peoples plot against this rule of God and His anointed One, because this world is a fallen world. It lies in the power of the evil one.   This is what   David observes. That is what the early church was observing and mentioning in prayer to God. This is the truth about the history of the human race. Mankind is always restless-always tossing, and never quiet. That is why the Bible sometimes compares the human race to the restlessness of the sea.
Isa 57:20 says, “The wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.” While there are periods when life seems relatively calm, there are many periods when it is like the raging of the sea. The 20th century was tumultuous – First World War; Spanish flu; Second World War. God alone knows what raging the 21st century may bring!  Covid 19 may be only the tip of the iceberg.
Our earth is a restless place.  
That is how it was at the time before Noah’s flood! That is how it was before sinful and restless Israel was carried away by the Assyrians. That is what it was like before sinful and restless Judah was carried into captivity in Babylon. That is how it was before Christ was born, and that is how it was before and in AD 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed! That is how it was   before the time of the Reformation. That is how it is today, in our time. The nations rage. The people plot. They take their stand against God and His Messiah.   
This restless human sea is committed to tear apart the safety cords designed by God for our respective societies. Hardly anything that the Bible holds as sacred is sacred any longer. We have already observed that everything designed by God for our good is being raged at. It is plotted against by substituting the good order and the boundaries that the gospel creates, with cheap and deadly substitutes for the satisfaction that we should find in our relationship with God and God ordained human relationships.
But, …“the peoples plot in vain  -  the kings  - the rulers  -  the wise men  of this world  - the leaders of society - the politicians, the educationalists, the philosophers, the newspapers, the social media  and other  opinion makers. You are aware of all these - what are they doing? They are mostly devising futile and empty schemes to cure this world’s ills. They don’t like gospel solutions! They tell Bible believing Christians that their religion promotes hate-speech, stifles freedom of choice and stands against scientific thinking.   This is absolutely not true. Biblical Christianity commands us to speak the truth in love; Biblical Christianity has freed many peoples from dark oppression. Many Christians have been at the forefront of scientific discoveries.  This idea that we can live a happy and a good and a full life without God, and in defiance of His teaching, it is sheer madness. It is vanity! (Ecclesiastes)

II.                     Vv. 4-6 : The question: What does God think of this?

He who sits in the heavens laughs!  The Lord looks down upon this defiant world with derision, and not only derision, but with a great declaration of His almighty power:  5 Then shall he speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in His fury   6 as for me I have set my king upon Zion my holy hill.”   
He will speak in His wrath and terrify them in his fury. All it takes is a little virus for us to understand that we are not almighty. We are not God. Every war, every pestilence, every famine, every disaster is a reminder that we can easily be shaken.
But that is nothing, when compared with the coming wrath that will take place when the Lord’s Messiah shall appear.
Who is this King set upon God’s holy hill?  It is a reference to the Messiah. He is the One of whom the world in his day said, "He says that He is the Son of God - let's get rid of Him." And they joined together - they took counsel together, and they condemned Him and they nailed Him to a cross. They killed Him. They took down His body. They buried it in a grave. They rolled a stone over it and sealed it. They put soldiers to guard it. They said, "That's the end of Him, we've finished Him off!" But on the morning of the third day, God raised Him from the dead, and after 40 days He ascended into His glorious place from where He presently rules and from where He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  God says, “I have set my king on Zion my holy hill.  This is the God that the world is defying!  5 Then shall he speak to them in his wrath… - this arrogant world is under the fearful wrath of God! The Psalmist has shown us God’s reaction to all this   madness.  And God laughs at these little men that come with their ‘peashooters’ Him.

III.                   Vv. 7 -9:  The LORD  proclaims the new era of  the reign of the Messiah  

  1. The resurrection of Jesus ushers in a new era (v. 7). The  resurrection  of Christ ushers in the new kingdom of
  2.  He is the ascended ruling king who has been given the nations as a heritage (V.8). In Revelation   5 & 7 we see the elect from every nation assembled before the throne. 
  3. As for the faithless among the nations, a fearful judgement awaits them (v.9) He has planned a new kingdom in which there is no place for power brokers and self-driven men.  The true King of this world is the coming Judge who will deal with corrupt politicians and leaders.

IV.                  Vv. 10 -12 : This requires a proper response : Advice is given to the kings of the earth to  fear the Messiah

  1. Kings, rulers of the earth:  be wise; serve the Lord with fear; rejoice with trembling. Rulers are the key to how a nation is led. Let the nations learn to fear God by the example of their rulers.
  2. Kiss the Son: Rulers and people of the world bow down to Him; own Him now, while He calls you to repent.  If you don’t do this you will   perish!
  3.  Blessed are all who take refuge in Him:  Here is the gospel invitation and proper response. This is how we are called to live in this world. Under Christ’s rule and at peace with Him and with one another.