“It seems like the world is a real mess,” the man said as he sat down next to me. I had to agree.
Whether you look around the globe or right next door, there are plenty of issues to cause us concern. Like my friend, many people conclude that this world is a runaway train with no one at the controls.
In Psalm 2, the psalmist faced a similar world. The kings of the earth were plotting to throw off the yoke of the Lord and his anointed. Yet he put their rebellion in context with the question, “Why do the nations rage in vain?” (Psalm 2:1).
The key reality in his world was not the determination of the Lord’s enemies to throw off his yoke, but rather the Lord’s confident commitment to install his anointed one as king on Mount Zion (2:6). Those who sought refuge under the shelter of the Davidic king would find refuge in the midst of life’s storms, while those who persisted in their rebellion would be destroyed in his wrath (2:10-12).
This psalm orients our own thinking as we seek to live by faith in a messy world. It teaches us that even though this world is a place of visible conflict and chaos, the Lord reigns. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In the face of personal difficulties and problems in our churches, it is easy for us to lose sight of the greater reality of the reign of God in Christ. We need to be reminded constantly that the nations rage in vain. No matter how ferocious and profound the challenges that face you, the Almighty God who has committed himself to those who trust in him will never give you up.
Those who make the Lord their refuge will never be abandoned by him.
Yet the way in which Christ presently exercises his rule in this world is not what you might have expected. Immediately after Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Lord’s anointed, Jesus began to teach his fol- lowers that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected and killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31). As the true anointed one of Psalm 2, the chosen Son of David, Jesus would himself experience the raging of the nations.
In Jesus’ case, his own people joined the Gentiles in crucifying him. Instead of setting Jesus on a throne, they nailed him to a cross under the mocking label, “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). It seemed as if the nations had triumphed over the Lord’s anointed and the promise of the Lord’s protection was empty.
However, all of the plans of the nations against Jesus turned out indeed to be in vain. The Lord sovereignly turned their wicked purposes around to achieve his own righteous ends, as he had planned from the beginning (Acts 2:23). It was precisely through Jesus’ obedience to death on the cross that he received his kingdom and earned the nations as his inheritance.
God raised Jesus from the dead and installed him in heavenly glory so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess him as Lord (Philippians 2:10). He will rule over a kingdom that includes men and women from every corner of the globe.
Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus
It is this cross-shaped kingdom of our God in which we live as Christ’s followers. Conflict and suffering are the means by which God sanctifies us and brings us to glory, just as he did with Jesus (Hebrews 2:9). In the continuing warfare of this present age, therefore, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, our great High Priest who is even now crowned with glory and honor in heaven and is interceding there on our behalf.
In Christ, our victory has already been assured; we are even now seated with Christ in the heavenly realms and no one can snatch us out of his strong grasp. As a result, even though the nations rage around you and against you, even though all the forces of Satan and your sinful nature buffet and assault you, your inheritance is secure in Christ. Jesus reigns!
He has overcome the world and he will keep his people through all of life’s tribulations, until he brings us safely to our eternal home.