God's Political Viewpoint
Sudden turmoil grips the world. First Tunisia. Then Egypt. Then Yemen. Then Jordan. Then Bahrain. Then Iran. Then Algeria. Then Morocco. Then Iraq. Now the focus shifts to Libya. How much longer can Gaddafi cling to power? The headlines tell the story: “The Last Days of a Desert Despot” “It’s Time to Get Tough with Gaddafi!” When President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast - February 3 2011 – “We pray that the violence in Egypt will end and that the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized and that a better day will dawn over Egypt and throughout the world.” That prayer was answered. Foreign policy has spiritual overtones most presidents never think about. The Bible says much about the nations of the world – their origin, their alliances, their political power, their military might, and their ultimate destiny. Interesting that in times of turmoil we always run to God -Warfare drives us to our knees. We are good at killing each other but not so good at making peace. Even the pagans pray because they realize that only God can help us. We know instinctively that man cannot deliver us in the day of trouble. That raises an interesting question: Does God have a foreign policy? Yes. Does God care what the nations do? Yes. Does he pay attention to world leaders? Yes. Does he take their threats seriously? Yes. Psalm 2 shows us God’s foreign policy - good to know in times like these. The psalm opens with the kings of the earth in open rebellion against God and ends with the Lord issuing an ultimatum and an invitation. Psalm 2 tells us what God thinks of the nations. This is what God thinks of America, Great Britain, South Africa. In the face of world-wide rebellion against the Lord, God declares his intention to someday enthrone Christ as ruler over the nations of the world. In light of that, the only proper response to his coming reign is humble submission to him right now. If you look at the psalm, it falls very naturally into 4 parts, and in each one a different voice is speaking Part 1: Voice of the Nations v. 1 – 3 The first word sets the tone. “Why?” God is saying, “How dare they?" This is “little man” speaking. He’s strutting around. “Look at me. I’ve got guns. I’ve got rockets. I’m strong. I can do harm. Better pay attention to me.” The word “plot” means “to talk to oneself.” The leaders of the world have decided they don’t want God to rule over them so they talk to each other, dreaming up plots and schemes to rid themselves of the Almighty. The question “why” is written in large letters across our world today. Why so much hatred? Why so much divorce? Why so much war? Why does crime increase? Why do men speak evil of one another? Why so much poverty in an age of prosperity? Why are hearts filled with fear? Why do so many people turn to alcohol and drugs? Why do we reject the 10 Commandments? Why do we cheat and lie? Why is there so much pain in the world? Psalm 2 traces the answer back to the rebellion inside every human heart. We fight against each other because there is no peace within. Man apart from God is always at war with God. This explains the connection between white collar criminals in Sandton and prostitutes who ply their trade in the inner city. It joins the politician and the pickpocket. One link joins them all - they will not bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Note the progression of evil: conspire, plot, defiance and rebellion. What starts as loose talk leads to diabolical plots leads to open defiance that results in outright rebellion “against the Lord and his Anointed One." It all comes back to Jesus sooner or later. They hate him! It happened at Calvary when Caiaphas, Pilate, and their henchmen conspired to kill the Son of God. That’s how we should understand the death of Christ from the world’s point of view. It was the ultimate act of rebellion. The world tried to overthrow God by killing his Son. Don’t ever be surprised by the hostility of rich and powerful people to the Lord and his people. If they hate Jesus, they will hate those who follow Jesus. The more you openly identify with Jesus Christ, the more you will face the opposition of the world. It was so in the beginning, and it is the same today. The world wants to throw off the “chains." What are those chains? Marriage is one of them. In our day marriage has been redefined so that gay marriage has become a reality. We don’t like the “chain” of one man - one woman so we promote promiscuity, we laugh at infidelity, we welcome degrading pornography into our home computers, we mock those who uphold traditional values, we enshrine the rebels who sleep around and call it freedom. If we have an inconvenient pregnancy on our hands, we can legally put that baby to death through abortion. Men do not want God telling them to do. They want to strip him of his crown, his throne, his sceptre, his book, his people and his name. Away with God! The only “God” they want is a figurehead who looks the other way while they do whatever they please. We want to do what we want when we want where we want with whom we want. We don’t want anyone telling us it’s wrong. Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, the human race has been sliding downhill, over the cliff and into the pit of self-destruction. If anything, our generation has greased the track so nothing will hold us back on our headlong descent into madness. How does God feel about this? Is he surprised? Part 2: Voice of the Father v. 4 – 6 God the Father responds to the spreading rebellion on the earth. What does he say about the runaway world? He’s not surprised at all. It’s not as if God is pacing the throne room of heaven saying, “I’m worried about what’s going on in Libya. What if this revolution spreads to Saudi Arabia? What will happen then?" In contrast to the chaos on earth, there is perfect peace in heaven. The Lord laughs, as if he is saying, “Little man, who do you think you are?” He laughs at them. He threatens them. He warns them. God is “enthroned,” not embattled. He “laughs” at their puny efforts - like a father laughing at his 3-year-old son, “Let’s wrestle, Dad. I can beat you.” It’s a joke. Can a flea defeat an elephant? Can man shoot a rocket and destroy the throne of God? God’s response to human chaos is Jesus. He has installed Christ as King. Divine irony - “You killed my Son, but the day will come when my Son reigns over the earth in the very city where you put him to death.” God is not pleading with men, “Please make my Son king.” He is the King of Kings already! Christ is not an “option” to choose. Those who treat Jesus as an “option” will one day discover that ignoring him leads to eternal destruction. When we are troubled by the events around us, we should ask ourselves, “Do I still believe in God?” Do we have a God so big that he transcends the shattering affairs of this world? Do we have a God who doesn’t have to watch CNN to find out what’s going on in the Middle East? Since God’s answer to all the problems of the world is Jesus, that ought to be our answer as well. Part 3: Voice of the Son v. 7 – 9 Now the Son speaks to the chaotic situation engulfing the nations. He proclaims God’s decree that he is the Son of God. When did this decree take place? It happened when God raised Jesus from the dead. It’s not that Jesus became the Son of God at the resurrection. He was and is and always will be the Son of God. But as sunlight streamed into the empty tomb, God unfurled a banner from heaven with the words, “This is my Son. Pay attention to him.” Great question, “Which religion should we follow?” Follow the one whose founder rose from the dead. Here is God’s declaration - then God’s intention. He intends to give Christ the nations as his possession. Then there is God’s promise to his Son. Jesus will one day rule over the nations of the earth. Here we have a promise that ignites the worldwide Christian movement. God wants his Son recognised in every nation! In Libya amid the flames of the dying Gaddafi regime. In Saudi Arabia with its billions in oil reserves. In China where the authorities cannot stop the spread of Christianity. In France where the churches are beautiful and mostly empty. In North Korea where the church exists behind closed doors. In India with its clash of cultures and languages. God wants his Son recognised. And one day he will be! Here we have a vision of Christ ruling over the whole earth. But there is a solemn tone. Because Christ has the power to rule, he will not hesitate to exercise that power upon any who rebel against him. He will break them to pieces like pottery. This may not fit into our modern version of the “politically correct Jesus,” but it’s a true part of the biblical portrait of our Lord. Although it doesn’t always appear that way, even the rebellious nations are under God’s control. Libya has descended into chaos. No one yet knows what the fall of Mubarak means for Egypt. In these days of ferment as the nations stir themselves and people call for action, do not think that God is alarmed. He is not. The Lord has the situation fully under his control. One day every nation will bow before King Jesus. Today that seems impossible as we consider the world scene. But what we see today is not the last word from heaven. If we believe this, it ought to engender great confidence and form solid ground for believing prayer. In light of all that, what does God want from the people of the world? Psalm 2 ends with a gracious invitation and a solemn warning. Part 4: Voice of the Spirit v. 10 – 12 There is a warning from the Lord, an ultimatum from the Lord and an invitation from the Lord. God wants complete and unconditional surrender from the rebels who rage against him. This is the point of Psalm 2 - Wise men come to Jesus. Do it now while you have a chance. Here is a word to the world’s rulers: Be wise, Mubarak. Be wise, Gaddafi. Be wise, Sarkozy. Be wise, Kim. Be wise, Netanyahu. Be wise, Obama. Be wise, Mugabe. Be wise, Zuma. Be wise, leaders of the earth. Be wise, and come to Jesus. Bow the knee to him before it is too late. Do you ever wonder why God puts up with flagrant sinners? It’s not because he’s soft on sin. Not at all! God’s wrath can “flare up” at any moment. God’s patience must never be confused with passivity. He is “slow to anger” but when he gets angry, watch out! For those who don’t believe Psalm 2 and who don’t bow the knee to Jesus, God has a message for them. They will be “destroyed." Sudden destruction - Total destruction - Destruction without remedy God’s final word is an offer of grace. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (v. 12). Message - “But if you make a run for God - you won’t regret it!” I like that–make a run for God. Run to the cross! Lay hold of the Saviour who died for you. May God help you to come. May God give you a desire to come. You won’t regret it – today or tomorrow. 10,000 years from now, you’ll still be glad you came to Jesus. The nations are still raging today. Nothing has changed in 3000 years except that man has discovered how to kill millions of people with the push of a button. We have traded spears for bombs. Are we really any better off? Are we any safer now that we can wipe ourselves out? One thing is clear about the current trouble in the Middle East: no one knows what will happen next. Revolutions are always unpredictable. The kings of the earth still gather together to stir up trouble, but even the greatest among them cannot control the future. They can start a war, but they cannot guarantee how it will end. Psalm 2 describes the world as it is and as it someday will be: We live in a world where Jesus is rejected – where the majority want nothing to do with him – where “little men” still rage against the Son of God. But we have the privilege of bowing before him. I want to be on his side. I want to bow before him. Psalm 2 calls the church back to its ultimate mission: Personal submission to Jesus as Lord. Proclamation of the Gospel to every nation. Growing confidence in God in the midst of increasing chaos on earth. Let’s lift up Jesus as the only hope of the world. Let’s invite the rebels on the other side to put down their weapons and join us in the great celebration of God’s Son, the Anointed One and Our coming King – Jesus Christ!