Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 

“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 

You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.

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 those who take refuge in him.”

(Psalm 2)

As a Canadian, one of the most interesting parts about coming to Calvin Seminary was the difference in culture between the Great White North and the U.S.A. There are a few differences, most trivial, such as the consistent discussion about firearms.

Back in 2014/2015, I went to a Bible college in Germany called “Bodenseehof”. This was an international school where people from all over the world would come for the experience and discipleship. I remember a conversation with a gentleman from California and another from Maryland. We were leaving an English screening of Interstellar (I believe… truth be told I saw a lot of things on that trip). The Californian asked the Marylander (is that the word?) and myself, “Which would you rather have: more guns or more clothes?” Without missing a beat I said, “Clothes for sure,” and then the Marylander said, “pfft, guns. Obviously,”to which then the Californian shared the same sentiment.

Thinking back on this story now, I realize that there are even more differences. Since  I started attending Calvin Seminary and rubbing shoulders with Americans even our topics of conversation are significantly different.

In Canada, we have a general societal understanding about what we do and don’t talk about. We don’t discuss religion or politics at the dinner table, and the moment we do, everyone is comfortable saying, “Don’t cram your beliefs down my throat” or simply nodding along hoping to God that they stop talking about the Illuminati at some point… not a true story in any way…

Contrary to Canada, the U.S. puts everything on the table. For example, there won’t ever be a passive discussion about Republicans vs. Democrats. In most conversations I would hear the terms “liberal” and “conservative” thrown around like a frisbee at the dog park. Yet in all of these political conversations we should have the sentiment of Psalm 2 in mind.

All planning, direction, and behavior of the political rulers in the world are at odds with God’s rule and reign in our world.

This means that in the building of Christ’s kingdom in this “already but not-yet” paradox of reality, our proclamation should sound like the Psalmist when they say, “be wise you kings, serve the Lord and celebrate the rule of God with trembling, submit to His son.”

While politics can be a touchy subject, we don’t need to look at  the kings of this world, who are only placeholders. Rather, the true king has put them in their lofty positions to do justice and God will not be mocked by their poor stewardship. 

The author of the Psalm then takes us back towards a practical application of this “One enthroned in heaven”. What does this ancient Psalm have to say to the world today? The answer comes down to soteriology and eschatology.

The kings will not reign forever. In this world filled with both wicked and righteous kings bankrupt of wisdom, they have all been humiliated and usurped by Christ. When we read Colossians 2:15, we can read this with a recognition that Christ has inherited the nations. Even within our local churches, there are leaders who have attempted to usurp the authority of Christ in the name of position. 

When we lead others, it is integral that we submit all our ministry to the headship of Christ. It is integral that we lead with the knowledge that Christ is ruling and reigning within every square inch of creation. And then it is our duty to recognize that we are building a kingdom not our own, but one that is in progression towards its fulfillment.

~Gavin Schaefer

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