Do you ever feel like your fighting a losing battle? Maybe it’s the battle with a diet that as hard as you try it just don’t seem be helping you to loose any weight. Maybe it’s the battle with a teenager, trying to get them to put their dishes INTO the dishwasher not just BY the dishwasher. Or maybe it’s a battle with someone at work or at school or in your neighborhood. You try to go out of your way to be nice and friendly to them, but that person just seems to make your life more and more difficult. You feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
Do you ever feel that way when it comes to being a Christian, that you’re fighting a losing battle? You look at the world around you and the way that people portray Christians as intolerant, unloving, judgmental and dangerous. You look at the way that people seem to be more than willing to listen to anyone and anything as long as it doesn’t come from the Bible. You consider the number of Christians around the world that daily live in fear, threatened for no other reason than that they are Christians. Every once in awhile a Christian might look at the world around them, a world that seems to be relishing in its sinful rebellion against God, and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. This morning, Psalm 2 gives us a unique perspective as it allows us to look at the world as the Lord sees it. The Lord shows us who are actually the ones that are fighting a losing battle and who it is that is actually winning.
Psalm 2 is made up of four verses or sections. The first section of this psalm is verses 1-3. These verses describe all those who “conspire… plot…rise up… band together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Psalm 1:2). Now you might remember from previous Bible study that the word “anointed” can be a reference to Jesus. That word anointed is the Old Testament Hebrew word “Messiah” and the New Testament Greek word “Christ.” Jesus is THE Anointed, God’s chosen one to carry out God’s plan to rescue people from the punishment of sin. Therefore, these verses describe people who stand in opposition to Christ and his followers.
Nearly one thousand years after this psalm was first written, these verses were quoted by a group of Christians in a prayer which is recorded for us in Acts 4. Jesus had ascended into heaven and Jesus’ disciples were being arrested for preaching that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior. As these Christians gathered in prayer, they recalled the words of Psalm 2 and applied them to what they had seen happen to Jesus. They prayed, “Sovereign Lord… indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed” (Acts 4:27). A common enemy can make unlikely friends. In this case the common enemy was Jesus. The Roman officials Herod and Pontius Pilate had been bitter rivals before the crucifixion of Jesus. But their common desire to quickly and quietly make Jesus go away led them to work together to have Jesus executed. The Jewish religious leaders and these Roman officials would have naturally hated each other, but on that day of Jesus’ trial, they got along quite well. Why? They had a common enemy, Jesus Christ, God’s Anointed.
Sadly, we see the same thing taking place today, people who come together to stand in opposition to Christ, his Word and his followers. There are many who claim to have found freedom by “break the chains and throw off their shackles” (Psalm 2:3) of God’s Word. They claim that God’s Word is too restrictive and robs them of the freedom for them to do what they want to do. Humanism unites those who claim that religion is for the weak, the stupid and the unscientific. We continue to hold out the truth of God’s Word, the message of Christ the Savior, but we are mocked for what we believe in and ridiculed for the lives we live. You can’t help but maybe feel like you’re the one fighting the losing battle.
But then verses 4-6 come along and the Lord gives us a glimpse of his view of this world. The Lord looks at those who stand opposed to him and “the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 1:4). It’s like the parent looking on at the toddler who’s barking out orders as if they’re the one charge. And then the parent comes and says, “Nap time and puts them in the crib.” Who’s in charge now? The Lord knows exactly what is going on and it has not prevented him from doing what he knows is best for all people. The Lord says, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain” (Psalm 2:1). You might wonder, “Who is this king?” Well, verses 7-9 are the Lord speaking to this king. Listen to what he says. “He [the Lord] said to me, ‘You are my son; today have I have become your father’” (Psalm 2:7). Sound familiar? This is what God the Father declared from the sky at both Jesus’ baptism and his transfiguration. Jesus is the king. Jesus is the one who is more powerful than any of those who stand in opposition to the Lord. Why? Because Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Jesus did not become God when he was born or at any other time during his life. Jesus has always, fully been God from all of eternity. We regularly confess that amazingly powerful truth in the Nicene Creed when we say, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father…” Why is that statement so important? Because it then means that Jesus can do something that no one else can do. As true God, Jesus is a game changer. Instead of losing, we win.
Hold on, how can WHO Jesus is mean that I win? Well, Jesus saw how often we have lost the battle, that battle against sin and temptation. Now don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that we fight each day NOT to give into temptation – to do, to say and to think as God wants of us. But as hard as we fight, we also fail. The lost battle against the alarm clock when we decided to sleep in or cozy up on the couch instead of coming to church. The lost battle against sinful pride wondering how anyone could be so stupid to as have done what is obviously sinful. The lost battle of temper, yelling at a child or belittling a spouse with sarcasm. And the list of losses goes on and on. Jesus saw our less than stellar record of winning against sin and so Jesus came and won for you.
He took on the battle and because he is true God from all of eternity, guess what he is able to do? He was able to overcome every single one of those temptations that w daily face, never faltering even once! And because Jesus was true God from all of eternity, Jesus could offer his perfect life as the payment for the sins of all people of all time as he suffered and died at the cross. And because Jesus is true God from all of eternity, death could not contain him. Jesus overcame death as he came back to life on Easter morning declared once and for all that he had won. Jesus had won for you! Because Jesus is true God from all of eternity, he can give his perfect life and his payment of sins to you, to me, to all people through faith. Jesus has done it ALL, for ALL people. Yes this victory is for all “nations…the ends of the earth” (Psalms 2:8).
This is a victory that brings real and lasting freedom. Maybe you can think of it like this. If you’ve ever listened to a professional athlete who tries for years and years to win their sport’s championship, and then finally after many attempts does, they will likely tell you the relief they feel. How good not to live with that constant pressure. Unfortunately, the next season comes around and the pressure to win returns all over again.
As Christians, we get to live every day with the freedom of knowing that our relationship with God which will culminate in spending life eternal in heaven, is not something that we are daily trying to win by what do or try not to do. No, the victory is already ours, given to us by Jesus. We are right with God because Jesus was right for us. We have eternal life in heaven because Jesus won it for us. God’s Word is not restricting our freedom. God’s Word gives freedom as it guides our lives in ways that we know will glorify our Savior and will be a blessing to us and to others. On the other hand, those who live in opposition to Christ and his Word, they are fighting a losing battle. They are trying to achieve something that they will never be able to, something that only Christ can give. While they continue to fight a losing battle, we are fighting a winning battle, a battle that has already been won for us by Jesus.
The final section of this Psalm, verses 10-12, is a kind of interesting one because I think it so clearly shows the heart of the Lord. It’s almost as if the Lord is saying, “If you’re hearing this and you don’t have that freedom and victory in Christ, it’s not too late for you! Yes, judgment is most certainly coming. You can either stand AGAINST the Lord and be destroyed, or you can find refuge IN the Lord and be saved.” By God’s grace, we stand under the protection of the Lord, safe in the confines of saving love for us, but there still is room for more. The Lord so desperately wants even those who stand in opposition to him to have what he has won for them through his King, Jesus the Christ. And so we keep fighting. We keep fighting to bring the freeing message of Jesus to more and more people that they also might stand with us in faith, finding refuge in the Lord. Yes, that is something certainly worth fighting for. Amen.