Why Do the Nations Rage?
This is the second in a short series of posts dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). If you’re new to this subject (or to my blog), you will want to read the essay with which I introduced the series (just click here).
My goal in this eschatological adventure is two-fold.
First, I want to open up something of the Christ-centered truth and beauty of OTKP to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Secondly, I want to reason a little with my premillennial brethren. In particular, I want to make the case that we will best understand, enjoy, and profit from OTKP when we see that its true sphere of fulfillment is: 1) Christ, 2) the New Covenant he instituted, 3) the two-staged spiritual Kingdom he has already introduced (but not yet consummated), and 4) the New Covenant community he is creating out of elect Jews and Gentiles: the Church.
In short, I would like my premillennial brothers to reconsider the amillennial approach to OTKP.
Since the end of the age will soon be upon us, it is important that we stand together as much as possible. Seeing eye to eye on eschatology would definitely help. These essays—and the book in progress from which they are extracted—represent my best effort at contributing to that worthy end.
Since the prophetic texts I deal with are quite long, I have not reproduced them here. You will need to bring an open Bible to each blog. My hope and prayer is that you will enjoy them all.
This is the first of several royal or Messianic psalms (Psalms 2, 18, 20, 45, 72, 89, 110). As a rule, they feature an immediate reference to an earthly king, subtly blended with eschatological references to the coming Messianic King. Such is the case here. Psalm 2 has an OT fulfillment, presumably in the person of King David. But as the NT makes clear, it also has a far richer fulfillment in Christ (Acts 4:25-27, 13:33, Heb. 1:5, 5:5, Rev. 12:5). Here, I will focus exclusively on the Messianic meaning.
Verses 1-3 speak of the rage of the nations who vainly rebel against God and his Anointed. According to the NT, that rage was first directed, with lethal but redemptive results, against Jesus of Nazareth, who was rejected both by Jew and Gentile (Acts 4:25-26).
However, the NT also repeatedly warns that despite assured evangelistic success, the nations will rage against believers in Jesus, who also are the LORD’s anointed, having been endowed with the Spirit for Kingdom service throughout the Church era (Mt. 10:24-25, John 15:20, 1 John 2:20, 27, Rev. 12:13, 17).
Verses 1-3 will also be fulfilled in the Last Battle, when the rage of the nations, fueled by the rage of Satan, explodes one final time against the Church, which, in large numbers, will follow in the footsteps of her Master, both in death and in eternal resurrection life (Rev. 11:7-13).
Verses 4-6 give God’s response to the rejection of his Messiah. He derides the nations for their futile attempts to thwart his sovereign will. But in the exaltation of Christ and the subsequent global proclamation of the Gospel, he also speaks to them in his wrath:
“Though you have crucified My Son (and so fulfilled My redemptive plan), I have installed him as King of the Cosmos at My own right hand; upon the Zion above, My holy mountain of heaven, whence he will return to judge the world in righteousness and turn all impenitent rebels into hell. Now you have been warned; hopefully you will fear and repent” (Mt. 23:33, Acts 17:31, 1 Thess. 1:10, Heb. 12:22, Rev. 12:5, 14:7).
In verses 7-9 we hear the voice of the Son, sharing with us the words of the Father, spoken to him immediately after his exaltation to God’s right hand. A New Covenant paraphrase would go something like this:
“Because of your obedience unto death—because you faithfully fulfilled your part in the eternal Covenant of Redemption—this day, in your exaltation, I have begotten you, the God-Man, as My eternal Divine-human Son; as the One who will inherit all my wealth and rule over all my redeemed creation; as the One who will serve as Head over all in the eternal offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.
“Therefore, simply ask, and in fulfillment of my part in the Covenant of Redemption, I will give the raging and rebellious nations as your inheritance. Those for whom you died, I will draw to you, that they may become the eager subjects of your Kingdom, as well as my own beloved children. Those who continue in sin, I will give to you for judgment, especially at the end, when you return in power and glory to punish the wicked with a rod of iron, and to shatter them like an earthen pot” (John 6:44, Acts 13:33, Eph. 1:10, Phil. 2:1-11, Col. 1:13, Heb. 1:5, 5:5, Rev. 2:26-27, 12:5, 19:15).
In verses 10-12 we hear the voice of David—and the voice of the Spirit—issuing a final warning: “You kings, you judges, and you sinners everywhere, in view of all that God has done in Christ, is it not high time to exercise some discernment? Understand that today is a day of salvation; that for as long as Christ is pleased to tarry in heaven, you still can take refuge in him. But do not wickedly delay, for his wrath may suddenly flare up against you, or he may suddenly return for final judgment. Therefore, fear God, repent, and come to Christ now. How blessed you will be if you do (Luke 4:16-20, Acts 2:37-40, 2 Cor. 6:2)!
Does Psalm 2:6-9 speak of an earthly thousand year reign of Christ emanating from earthly Zion, as C. I. Scofield asserts? (SRB, p. 602). The NT passages cited above—and indeed the whole substance of NT eschatology—answer with a resounding no, and so give the Psalm to the Church for her preparation and edification in these last days.