The Meditating Person and the Raging Nations

Summer of Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:50
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Psalm 2 The Meditating Person and the Raging Nations Introduction: Where the Psalms do contain doctrine about God, and we can study them, they are not primarily for teaching but for worship.. Eugene Peterson writes - "Our habit is to talk about God, not to him. We love discussing God. The Psalms resist these discussions. They are not provided to teach us about God (these people knew God, through the teaching of the Law (Torah)) but to train us in responding to him. We don't learn the Psalms in until we are praying them." - Eugene Peterson, Answering God Obviously there are a great many things that we can learn about God, God's world, ourselves, salvation and many other things through the Psalms but the point is that the Psalms were originally meant as prayers and songs for the nation of Israel and the Church. So If we really want to learn and receive from the Psalms we must learn to be still before God, to think on his word, to mull it over, to allow it to hit us where God intends to hit us - right in the heart. Then to respond. Our initial reactions to God's word are not always the right reaction..sometimes we are angry with God, frustrated, afraid, bitter, flippant, somber when we should be jovial, jovial when we should be somber.. In the Psalms we find all these same emotions: Delight. Fear. Anger. Joy. Grief. Depression. Gladness. Loneliness. Love. and Loss. And this is just a small sampling of the range of emotions in life. But while the Psalms allow us to express our raw emotions they simultaneously seek to shape them into righteous ones. With the Psalms we can approach God with brutal honesty, seeking to be rooted in truth and ready to submit to him. Tim Keller says,"On the one hand, the Psalms actually show you that you can be unhappy in God's presence. The Psalms, in a sense, give you the permission to pour out your complaints in a way that we might think inappropriate, if it wasn't there in the Scriptures. But on the other hand, the Psalms demand that you bow in the end to the sovereignty of God in a way that modern culture wouldn't lead you to believe." - Tim Keller, The Songs of Jesus And this is the call of the church in every age to have our minds and hearts molded and shaped as we contemplate God's truth together, and respond in appropriate worship. Psalm 2 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles." 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 "I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain." 7 I will proclaim the Lord's decree: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have become your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." 1. A Different Type of Meditation 1. The verb that dominates the action of Psalm 1, "meditate", is picked up again in Psalm 2, but used in a context that requires the translation, "plot." Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?" "Mediate" in Psalm 1, and "plot" in Psalm 2 are the same verb. And it is the same action: a murmuring, absorbed, ruminating interest over the word of God, realizing that this is the most important word, THE WORD that determines all existence. 2. But while Psalm 1 directs us to approach this word with delight, receiving it as life giving, psalm 2 shows people plotting against this word, devising schemes for getting rid of it so that they can be free of all God-interference in their lives. These people see God's words not as javelins penetrating their lives with truth (Torah), but as chains that restrict their freedom. They put their minds together to rid themselves of this word so that their words can rule. 2. The Raging Nations 1. These aren't just any people, these are powerful, impressive people.. they are both numerous (nations and peoples) and prominent (kings and rulers). These people command most of the armies of the world, direct the advances of science, run school systems, preside over governments, and rule in the market places. 1. I imagine that no one in this room fits into those categories. This Psalm is written for the little people. Some might read this psalm and feel like they are reading about the angry, judgmental God of the Bible they've always suspected - But nothing could be further from the truth (Exodus 34) This God is one who loves the little weak people, the fatherless, the widow, the poor, the disenfranchised - and one who opposes oppressors, injustice and unrighteousness. 2. So this Psalm again is written to people who are under these kind of rulers and kings....What can we do? Don't you feel helpless, weak, insignificant?? 3. My life, your life, good or bad, righteous or unrighteous, just or unjust - is just a drop in the bucket - what can I do, and what difference does it make anyway? - And the resounding answer seems to be - nothing. 4. The issue here is size or perspective - we see through a small window, and not the whole picture - I think of the Wilco song that says - every generation thinks it's the end of the world.. Of course we do - we think, it's never been this bad or screwy - when has our Nation ever been this screwed up? 5. This Psalm calls us to an act of imagination that enables us to see that the world of God is large - far larger than the world of kings and princess, prime ministers and presidents, far larger than the worlds reported by news and social media, far larger than any philosophy...far larger, in fact, than anything we can imagine. 2. "We need a way", says, Eugene Peterson, "a convincing, usable, accessible tool for realizing the largeness of God in the midst of the competing bigness of the world. If we fail here, prayer will be stunted; we will pray huddled and cowering. We will pray without Faith" - Eugene Peterson, Answering God 1. Psalm 2 answers our need by presenting Messiah (God's anointed one). Messiah is God's person in history. God is not exclusively in the business of dealing with souls, he is also active in cities. Messiah is God's invasion of the secular, his entry into the world where people go to school, go to work, go to war, go to San Francisco...Messiah may not look like much to the watching world.. think of Moses, or David, obviously Jesus the ultimate Messiah - what did people say about him? "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" He had no form of comeliness that we would desire him, the prophet says, there was nothing kingly about his appearance, he wasn't impressive or intimidating to look at - yet he is power, wisdom and righteousness from God incarnate. By means of Psalm 2 we observe Messiah, God personally involved in this world, often incognito, but here and ruling. Immanuel - God with us 2. Psalm 2 is connected with the Cross of Jesus Christ by the Apostle Peter in Acts 4:25-28 which means that the final way in which we see, "the powers that be," formed against God and his anointed, was when Rome and Jerusalem met in the middle of history, at the center of the world to destroy God's Anointed, Jesus Christ. 3. Peter and the early church prayed this prayer in the face of persecution, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed' - for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." -Acts 4:24-31 1. Sometimes we wonder what we can possibly do against the powers that be.... There are times and seasons in life and in the history of the world when it seems that God is not present, or that he is silent...we wonder what is going on in the world; does God care? Who is running this world, where is God - The world has gone mad!!... Do you ever feel this way? It's Beyonce's world and were just living in it - You hear the philosophies and lifestyle of the richest most powerful and influential people in the world - and you think - this is absolute insanity!! The world is ruled by those swimming in self indulgence, decadence and debauchery and were just a bunch of pawns, were just the little helpless people.. 1. When we look at Psalm 2 and Acts 4 it calls us back to a robust trust in the Sovereignty of God... Sovereignty doesn't mean that God causes all things to happen -Sovereignty means,"God does what he pleases, but not everything that happens pleases him. He is the one that sets the guidelines and everyone ultimately answers to him." - Gerry Breshears 2. Peter highlights that the rulers of the world didn't know it but they were playing right into God's plan.. they were crucifying God's Messiah and simultaneously crowning him King over the nations.. think about the purple robe, the crown of thorns, the declaration in Greek, Latin and Aramaic, declaring to the whole world at the time - This Jesus is THE KING OF THE JEWS - the one who would rule the nations... As Jesus was being crucified as king of the Jews - God was at that very moment setting his king on his holy hill... 3. Even when the greatest powers of the world, the greatest political power, the greatest religious power, the devil and the demonic realm aligned to destroy Messiah and snuff out the redemptive work of God (And even Jesus Messiah himself cried out on the cross - My God, My God why have you forsaken me) - three days later Jesus rose, triumphant over the grave... Peter is showing us something we overlook or forget - it wasn't in-spite of all of this that God did his work but through all of it that he accomplished his will! 1. "He who sits in the heavens laughs"... it's no wonder this attempt to throw God's authority off makes God chuckle... Think about how insane this is that in Jesus' weakest, most vulnerable moment he was in fact destroying the power behind the unrighteous and unjust kingdoms of this world and the powers that held the universe in captivity under sin... 2. "What looks like (and indeed was) the defeat of goodness by evil is also, and more certainly, the defeat of evil by goodness. Overcome there, he was himself overcoming. Crushed by the ruthless power of Rome, he was himself crushing the serpent's head. The victim was the victor, and the cross is still the throne from which he rules the world." - John Stott, The Cross of Christ 3. "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." - 1 Corinthians 1:25 2. Our God is a God that brings light out of the blackest darkness - God turned the greatest defeat the world has ever seen into the greatest victory the universe has ever known. He took the shamed and crucified Messiah and set him on the throne of the universe! 3. Here is the good news even hen it feels hopeless and darkness seems all around us - God is at work - even though at this moment you cannot see it! God is always present, and NEVER absent, even when his presence isn't obvious. Even in the midst of faithlessness God is Faithful. Though we don't deserve it and our conscience may deny it - He is faithful. So when we see things arise that might threaten the Church or the work of God, when enemies seek to overtake and snuff out the gospel whether in the 3rd world or right here in our own State - although it seems God is absent and the crazies have taken over the asylum - God is ultimately in control..Remember God is Sovereign and at work behind the scenes.. 4. And on top of that who's to say if God might not turn the tide for our generation, pouring out his Spirit bringing renewal and revival - so that many would find their way into the kingdom of God! ... just like in Acts, "And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." I pray it would be so.. 3. Psalm 2 continued - "Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling (Or awe). Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." 1. I know for me, it's easy to look around at the madness of the world around me, and feel justified in my condemnation of it's evil.. 1. Then I look at my own life, at the life of the church and I see equal amounts of insanity. The church in our generation is grossly compromised - we are a lot like Esther growing up in Exile - never knowing Temple worship, Torah teaching, or Kosher keeping - we don't have a distinct lifestyle and witness as the people of God- We are living in a post Christian age and WE have lost our roots - a sense of our christian heritage and identity as the distinct people of God, we've lost a basic moral compass - righteousness, and justice..sacrifice and service.. 2. So when I am tempted to point the finger and feel like I'm the only righteous person that ever lived, I am reminded of Isaiah the prophet. In the first 5 chapters of the book of Isaiah - he is a fiery preacher and prophet, pronouncing woe to the nations, denouncing them for their idolatry, merciless ruling, unrighteousness and injustices. Then all of a sudden in chapter 6 Isaiah has a vision of the LORD of Host and it blows him away, he sees himself for what he truly is - a man full of idolatry and sin, pride and self righteousness - he says that it's all too much; he feels that he is literally going to be killed by the sheer glory and purity of God... "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." - Isaiah 6:6-7 1. When I think of Isaiah, and I read these last verses of Psalm 2, I am reminded of my need to personalize this Psalm. To "kiss the son"! To worship him, to bring myself back under his love, his grace, his sacrifice, conforming my life to the way of Jesus... Martin Luther commented once that for the Christian - all of life is repentance..All of life is to be continually brought back to worship, and adore the Son, Jesus Christ. 2. It's so easy for us to look out there and think that everyone needs to get their crap together - but what about us - Are we resisting God's kingly reign over our lives? Have we come to the end of ourselves? Are we looking to God to do something? Are we pleading with him to intervene in our day and age? 1. Each of us in our own way have rejected and do reject God's rule over our lives, some in small ways, some in not so small ways - this Psalm reminds us that unless we kiss the Son our way of life will lead to destruction, away from the God who is life, who loves, justice, righteousness and peace.. God would be fully justified to give us what we want. To live without God's rule is what we want, and it is also what we deserve - But to live without God would be to cut ourselves off from life itself, total and complete autonomy would actually destroy us, and yet it is what we in fact deserve for rejecting God's mercy, faithfulness and rightful reign over our lives. But God in his love sends Jesus Messiah not to bring judgment but to bear the judgment that we deserve for defying, dishonoring and rebelling against God - We deserve rejection from the presence of God, to be cast out into darkness... Jesus, there on the cross experienced what we deserve so we could be forgiven and brought back into the presence of God and experience his good reign over our lives.... Now we who will humble ourselves before his grace can pay sincere "worship, honor, obedience" to him - As the Psalm says we can kiss or pay homage to the Son in gratefulness for all that he has done - The Bible says this is done only through a whole surrender of our being, Body, mind and soul being given in loyalty to God and his way of life... 2. I pray that this truth would break through our complacency, our fears, our lack of faith, our anger at God or at the condition of the world or our life and would lead us back to the Lord to prioritize his word, to delight in him, and in faith and hope to see what God will do in our lives, in our community, in our city, and in our generation as we the people of God - Kiss the Son.
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