True Freedom Comes From the Coming King.
1 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.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 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.
“Would you rather have a ruler who, at least once a week, kneels to the ground and says ‘there is one God, Jesus is His Son, and we are His people,’ or a ruler who basically says ‘I’m it. There is no God, and I can pretty much do whatever I see fit with that authority?’”
The above statement is my best recollection of a quote by N.T. Wright during a recent interview on The Bible Project podcast.
Psalm 2 is complex and has numerous quotes in the New Testament as a Messianic prophecy. God is reminding the people, nations, kings and “rulers and authorities” in the heavenly realms that the nations were meant to be His inheritance, governed by the wise stewardship of His image-bearing human beings. As a result of both spiritual and human rebellions (Genesis 6:1-4; Genesis 10-11), the nations were “dis-inherited” from Yahweh and subdued by rulers who sought to direct worship and glory towards themselves instead of God. In this Psalm, the people, nations, kings and rulers all conspire to throw off any “shackles” of God’s authority over them. But God promises to install a King, His Son, through whom he will re-inherit the nations once more and make the ends of the earth the possession of His Son. He warns them now to turn and worship the Son and take refuge in Him, before it is too late.
As we’ve been journeying through John, we see Christ’s crucifixion as the crowning and enthronement of a King – not with a crown of gold, but of thorns, and not “lifted up” on a throne, but on a cross. In John 19, Pilate hangs a sign on the cross that reads “King of the Jews.” John is careful to mention that Pilate writes it in Latin, Greek, and Aramaic (the common languages encompassing the known world), and that the chief priests tried to get Pilate to change the words, because the sign would be visible “outside the city” for all to see. Pilate refused. Jesus’ inheritance garments were divided up into four “shares.” The number four commonly refers to the four corners of the earth.
John is using these details to symbolically make a declaration: A Gospel announcement that God’s King has come. The announcement of the enthroned King goes outside the city, calling all people subdued under the rulers and authorities in other nations to come out from under those powers and return to the King as His inheritance. “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.”
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ z—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jesus invites His church to join him and share in His authority as he reclaims the nations as His inheritance.
Our culture idolizes total freedom and autonomy. We champion those who are “self-made.” We sing along with Elsa from Disney’s Frozen: “Let it go, Let it go… No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free…” But total freedom is a complete myth. For example: A fish only experiences freedom when it is confined to water. You can be free from your studies, or have the freedom that comes from good grades, but you cannot be free to have both.
God’s claim is that the greatest possible experience of human freedom is found under His rule and authority, and in fact, we will be invited to share in that rule one day. But the myth of our generation is to follow that impulse to “cast off the cords,” becoming the supreme authority and seeking glory for ourselves from others. This always results in oppression and abuse.
Perhaps it is a good idea to do a heart check on how we perceive our need for glory and/or authority. Wherever we find our positions in the family, school, workplace, church, or government, let us pause every once in a while, take a knee, and say something to the effect of “There is one God, Jesus is His Son, and we are His People.”