Summary: In this expository, alliterated sermon, Psalm 2 publicizes a great rivalry between God and his enemies which includes a Serious Rebellion, a Sovereign Reaction, and a Safe Refuge. Custom PowerPoint is available if you e-mail me.
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/26/12
I’ll never forget watching the 1991 NBA Finals. It was billed as one of the greatest matchups in NBA history. It was dubbed “Manifest Destiny: Magic vs. Michael” by the Chicago Tribune and called “The Dream Series” by sportscasters. In the public’s mind it was Air Jordan versus the Magic man.
It was Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ first trip to the NBA Finals and Magic Johnson’s Lakers last run at the title. The Bulls were coming off a 61-21 regular season with home court advantage, but the Lakers had been in this situation before and they knew how to win. The first game of the series was a heartbreaker for Bulls fans as Michael Jordan missed the game winning shot and allowed the Lakers steal home court advantage. Fans’ faith in the Bulls ability to perform under pressure was shaken.
But the Bulls were undeterred. In the second game of the series the Bulls served notice early that Game 1 was already a distant memory. They exploded to an early lead and never relented. The 1-2 combination of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen was too much for the Lakers to contain. In the third quarter Jordan performed a layup that been on every highlight reel for the last 20 years, switching hands midflight and laying the ball off the glass. In the end the Bulls blew out the Lakers by more than 20 points, setting the tone for the rest of the series. The Lakers could only helplessly watch as the Bulls soared to their first NBA Championship. What was promoted as one of the greatest rivalries in sports history, turned out to be an almost entirely one-sided victory.
Last week we read Psalm 1, which delineates the difference between those who follow the path of God and those who don’t. Building on that difference, Psalm two publicizes a rivalry of biblical proportions—not between Christians and non-Christians, but between the Creator and his creation. Between God and man.
This rivalry begins with a rebellion.
• A SERIOUS REBELLION
George Bush senior once said, “I do not like broccoli and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And now that I’m president I’m never going to eat it again.” I guess rebelling against broccoli isn’t too bad, but Psalm two talks about a much, much more serious rebellion.
Psalm 2 opens with these words: “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’” (Psalm 2:1-3 NIV).
The psalmist envisions this international summit of kings, rulers, and people from every nation gathering to conspire together. They rise up and rebel against God and God’s people. The imagery, of course, is metaphorical, but the reality isn’t far off.
The truth is—all throughout history people been rebelling against God or the very notion of God, pitting themselves as his rivals. They see God or religion as an oppressor. They think that if they can throw off the shackles and chains of religion that they would be free, the world would be a better place, or they could simply do as they please unfettered by outdated morals or faith-based ethics. They dream of a world without God. Some have gone to great lengths to make that dream a reality.
I’ve heard people claim occasionally that Hitler was a professing Christian. While he certainly sprinkled plenty of Christian rhetoric throughout his feverish, sometimes frantic speeches, Hitler was in every way an enemy of God. Hitler hated Christ and wanted to eradicate Christianity. He authorized the murder of thousands of priests and nuns, and did everything he could to suppress the influence of the Church. Shortly after assuming power in 1933, Hitler told Hermann Rauschnig that he intended “to stamp out Christianity root and branch,” and “It is through the peasantry that we shall really be able to destroy Christianity.”
You don’t have to be a sociopathic megalomaniac to rail against God and his people, though. Voltaire was one of the leading figures of the French Enlightenment of the 1700’s. He had an exceptional talent for writing, and to this day, he is known as one of the world’s greatest philosophers. Yet, he hated the God of the Bible with a passion and he once said, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the structure it took twelve apostles to build.”
This uprising against God hasn’t slowed down any in modern times. In fact, it’s gaining momentum. The attacks on Christianity in the media, movies and academia have just been unrelenting as a whole new breed of atheists with rock-star platforms rally against religion in any form—but especially Christianity. In Christopher Hitchen’s book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything—which pretty much tells you everything you need to know—he argues that faith in God is superstitious nonsense. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The God Delusion, asserts that teaching your children to believe in God is a form of child abuse and he writes, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”