The Raging Heathen

It is often emphasized within the church of Jesus Christ that truth is eternal. Rightly so.

We were reminded of this when our thoughts turned to the second psalm and, looking up, thought on the devastating war in Europe. Surely truth is eternal. This second psalm fits even now. The heathen rage in Europe and the people imagine a vain thing.

This second psalm has a threefold application. It certainly refers historically to David, vis. Acts 4:25ff. It also refers to his Anti-type, the Lord Jesus Christ, vis. Acts 4:25ff.; 13:38; Heb. 1:5; 5:5. But it also refers to the whole New Testament history; even unto the history of to-day. The heathen did not change; neither did God, nor Christ. And we, the church of the Lord, should be comforted in this unalterable truth. When Europe is in flames and when this firebrand threatens to invade our shores, we should sing the second psalm and also say: Blessed are they who put their trust in Him.

This psalm is easily divided into 4 parts, equal parts, each of three verses. Verse 1-3 tells us of the raging heathen; verse 4 to 6 comprises God’s answer; verses 7 to 9 is the answer of God’s anointed, of Christ; and verses 10 to 12 is the answer of the church. You might divide the psalm also in two parts. In the first three verses we have the given, namely, the wicked raging world; and in the second part, from verses 4 to 12 we have a threefold answer to this raging, viz., the answer of God, Christ and the church.

What a terrible description of the wicked world. Wonder where we can fit in common grace? This is meant to be a very serious question. Let us see. Can we fit in common grace in their raging? Is there an attempt at goodness in their vain imaginations? Is there a thirst for righteousness, any kind of righteousness, outward righteousness if you please, in their determination to set themselves against the Lord and His anointed? Is there any sweetness of virtue in the counsels of the wicked that have led to this rebellion? Finally, where can we find the remnants, oh the celebrated remnants, of purity and holiness in their evil plan to break the bands and cords of the Almighty? No, I find no common grace in this psalm!

A terrible description of the world.

It is a description also of present day Europe.

“The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted.” Still, you do not have to fear, little flock, for: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

The word for raging means to be in a tumult, to run together noisily, to move without regard for order as with a mob. And it describes the world and life of the whole perfectly. Such you see round about you continuously. Read your papers and magazines; look at the pictures, paintings and sculpture; listen to the noises that come from without your dwelling: it is all one great shouting and tumult. No, there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God, Isa. 48:22 (free).

Moreover, these peoples, these heathen imagine a vain thing. That is really a pitiful thing. Imagine, you are thinking and pondering; you have your imagination and reflection. You write your book and number them by the millions. You have investigated the earth and the heavens, the deep of the ocean and the heights of the mountains; you have dissected the fish and fowls, the bodies and souls of men; you have even investigated the Almighty and written works on philosophy and metaphysics — and yet, in one word God evaluates all your herculean task as vain.

But this is not all. God’s Holy Spirit exclaims in righteous indignation, pointing to both your tumult and noise as well as to your thinking and reflecting, and says: Why do you do these things? Oh why do the heathen rage. . . . !

But the reason is clear. You see, these peoples have set themselves against God and against God’s anointed. Now that is a very foolish thing to do. Because you are lost before you start. Why, God is Almighty! What can a weak world do? And certainly when you set yourselves against God and when all your counsel is directed against the heavens you would not dream of success, would you? Apart now from sin and evil, remember that—but let the God of the heavens and the earth speak for Himself: “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity,” Isa. 40:21-23.

Let me ask you in all seriousness: suppose that a grasshopper in your backyard would make it known to you that his thoughts and counsel are against you and that the little beastie would imagine that it could vanquish you. You would laugh at it, would you not? And still, you and it are very closely related: you are both creatures. But God is God: He is entirely the other. And yet people imagine that they can wage war against the Lord God of the heavens and the earth.

What folly!

No wonder that God in the heavens will laugh. We read that He will have them in derision. “He that sitteth in the heavens.” What a terrible thought for the ungodly. They have set everything in motion without Him. He is not in all their thoughts. They can easily do without Him. Darwin said: We have set God out of doors!

A smiling Christ is heaven; but a laughing God is hell. Derision from the heavens spells everlasting disasters. It will call for an echo; but, ah me, that echo is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

You see, the laughter of God in the second psalm is the laughter of scorn and wrath. It calls for eternal damnation. And eternal damnation we find in this one word of the text: Then. Oh, then shall He speak unto them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure. Words of an angry God: how terrible. Even now, when rightly or wrongly, man speaks to man in his sore displeasure; even now when some hard-hearted man vents his anger over your head; even now when someone is mad at you, you quake, if not outwardly, surely inwardly. And you are miserable for weeks afterward. But what will it be when an angry God speaks words to you? They are recorded for us. Listen “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”

And the echo of these words shall remain and shall reverberate in the “lake of fire,” Rev. 20:15; Matt. 25:41. You see, God’s “vexing” shall continue in that place of woe. And there is no human tongue or words that can adequately describe such horrors.

And do you know what will be the greatest cause of despair? This, that the heathens will hear from the mouth of God that all their raging against Him and His Christ has been in vain. Yea, that their raging was a necessary part in God’s own victory. Hark: Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion! In that one word yet we hear the taunt of God. The mockery and derision of the heavens. The world has always tried to forestall the appearance and reign of God’s Christ (Acts 4:25ff.) Under the inspiration of the devil (Rev. 12). What think ye of the Christ? is the testing stone of all the ages. It sets you on high in Zion or it casts you down in weeping and gnashing of teeth. But know this: Yet has God set His king over Zion.

But also Christ has His answer to a raging world, even today. Here it is: I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.

This is a deep saying: cause for the songs of the redeemed and the rustling of angel’s wings.

This text first of all applies historically to David at his raising to the theocratic throne of Israel. In this God said unto him: Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee!

Secondly, it applies to the human Mediator when He was raised from the dead, Acts 13:33. In that day God begat the Redeemer when He called Him from the dead. In that day He raised the better David in order to sit, not on the theocratic throne of a carnal Israel, but upon the throne of His spiritual Kingdom, Zion.

Thirdly, this text applies to the very Son of God. And then the to-day of the text refers to the do-day of eternity. And from everlasting to everlasting does the Father say to the Son: To-day, eternally, I have begotten Thee.

And in these three we hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He will declare the decree over against the vain counsel of the heathen in their raging. And that decree shall stand. Based upon this Messiahship He shall ask of God and He shall give Him two things. He shall inherit all created things and be king eternally; and, secondly, He shall receive the wicked with all their guilt so that He may righteously dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. And He will surely perform it. We must wait awhile for its fulfillment. For God has said unto my Lord: Sit Thou at my right hand until I shall have made Thine enemies Thy footstool. Psalm 110:1.

And finally there is the answer of the church.

And she must preach the Gospel of reconciliation.

She may not avenge herself. God shall laugh and Christ will dash them in pieces that persist in disobedience. But we must preach.

Listen to the sermon of Zion.

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings! Be instructed, ye judges of the earth!

There you have the approach. The man who would be incorporated into the church of Christ must be brought to the confession that he is a fool. He is in need of wisdom and instruction. There is no offer here but a command.

Secondly, the Church must preach the Gospel and say: Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling! It is a call to faith and obedience. It is fitting that every rational creature bow before God with fear and trembling, for He alone is God.

Thirdly, we have the very heart of the Gospel. Kiss the Son!

Kiss the Son! What does it mean?

The kiss is the symbol of communion of love.

The kiss symbolizes union and friendship.

The kiss is symbol of reconciliation through Jesus Christ the Beloved!

Oh, it will be to everlasting shame if we have “refused Him that spoke,” Heb. 12:25.

Kiss the Son! It is the call of the Gospel. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, Heb. 2:3.

Kiss the Son: impossible for natural man, puffed up in wicked pride; but blessedness for all those whose heart the Lord opens unto eternal life.

Go to now all ye that count the blood of the new Testament impure and who have trampled under their feet the Son of God. The very reverse of kissing the Son. He will be angry alway and you will perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little.

But blessedness unto them that put their trust in Him. Amen.