(Originally Published on 9/11/07. This was from a sermon I delivered, either in North Carolina or Illinois, sometime between 2004 and 2007. For some reason, I placed this article back in draft form. It has been revised, as the references to Isis and the video concerning rapture theology will indicate.)
Read Psalm 2.
We Christians today have many things to focus our mind upon. Many of us buy books on and attend conferences on marriage. There are many who concentrate on being the complete Christian man or woman (or blogger). Even more occupy their themselves by studying the "End Times"; will we be raptured out of here before, during,or after the Great Tribulation? Or will we be raptured out of here at all? (Hint: See this short video for the correct answer). However, if we believers continually gain the mind of Christ, would these things be at the top of our priority list? What is foremost upon the mind the second person of the Trinity today? When the Son asks for something of the Father through the Spirit, what request is closest to the Son's heart? We shall soon see as we study the whole of Psalm two.
Verses 1-3: It is easy to see why kings and emperors oppose the Gospel. They fear for their position as supreme rulers and refuse to be held accountable for their actions. If the Gospel reigned supreme in their lands, they could never commit injustice and exploit the vulnerable with impunity. Their private lives would not be beyond scrutiny. Often their governments and religious systems are so linked that the land could be called a theocracy. The proclamation of the gospel could endanger these forms of government. But these verses do not let the subjects of kings and absolute rulers off the hook. They too are in league with their rulers against the rule of God's Son. Both ruler and subject plot together against the world-wide kingdom of Jesus Christ. Both boldly declare: "Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." No matter the excuse, whether it is abuses by the Church in the name of Christ, or bad behavior by individuals claiming to believe in Jesus, or unanswered intellectual questions, the real reason the world rejects the lordship of Christ is that most people will not accept any lord over themselves but themselves. When confronted with a genuine reflection of God in other human beings, unbelievers will often persecute Christians to shut them up. They will try to get such Christians to respond in an un-Christ like manner so that these unbelievers can comfort themselves that Christ's disciples are not really different. If they succeed, they tell themselves they don't really have to submit to the rule of the Son. ( read Psalm 37: 5-20 and Luke 19:14. Note the words of Jesus himself when describing the real reason the world rejects him: "...We will not have this man reign over us.")
Perhaps you have followed the news story about the South Korean Christian workers who were kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Originally, the terrorists wanted to exchange the hostages for captured Taliban fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan. In the end, after two male hostages were executed, the rest of the hostages were freed. But their freedom came with a price. The Taliban may have been paid ransom, maybe not. The South Koreans did promise to withdraw from Afghanistan. But most important, South Korea agreed to prevent future South Korean missionaries from working in Afghanistan. It might surprise you to learn that many within South Korea blamed the hostages for their ordeal. If they were not there interfering with another nation's religion, the argument goes, then the nation of South Korea and the hostages' families would not have been put through this grief. What may really surprise you is that many within the South Korean Church have made similar statements. Some Christian leaders declared that to try to get a Muslim to convert to Christ is an insult to Islam. Never mind that the workers were there not to evangelize but to build a hospital. Never mind that the Taliban doesn't care who they take hostage as long as ransom is paid for their release. Those within the Church who blamed the hostages belong to a growing movement within the Church who want to stop all missionary activity in the name of political correctness. In the future, in this country, there will be pressure put on the Church to stop world-wide evangelization in the name of peace, stability, and goodwill. That the government would exert such pressure should not surprise us. If the mainline church called for an end to carrying out the Great Commission, I would not be shocked. However, unfortunately, I will not be taken surprise if even those who call themselves "evangelicals" also promote such a policy. Some "evangelical" blogs are causing me to be concerned where the evangelical Church may be heading.
Verses 4-6: In the end, these plots will come to nothing. JESUS IS LORD! In 1949, the Communists took over China and promptly kicked out all foreign missionaries. "How will the Church in China survive without missionaries"? the western Church asked . When China opened up to the West years later, the western Church was surprised that the Chinese Church not only survived under Mao, but it grew. Before the Iranian Revolution of 1979, there were few Christians in Iran. Now that the Iranians have had more than a taste of hard-core Islam, many have had a profound change of heart. Today, there are about 900,000 Christians in Iran. The Taliban, or Isis, will not be any more successful in preventing the spread of the gospel.
Verse 7: Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the Father's only son!
Verse8: The answer to the question "What most concerns Jesus as He makes His requests known to the Father"? The Father tells the Son to ask for the nations as an inheritance. This is the Son's greatest desire. Jesus prayed this prayer to the Father, and some of us have become part of the Son's inheritance. Jesus still prays to the Father that the nations will be His. After all, it is the will of His Father that all come to repentance. ( II Pet. 3:9 )
So, if this is what is closest to the heart of Jesus, what does this fact say about what desire is closest to yours? Is your heart and mind in line with Christ so His priorities are your priorities. Are we so busy seeking our own fulfillment that we have not allowed the Great Commission to decisively shape how we live our own lives? Are we more concerned about other things that we have not prayed to the Lord for more laborers? Do we refuse to suffer when part of the body suffers?
Verse 9: Jesus himself will break these nations with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel. Jesus will do this to His inheritance so those who once rejected His Lordship will become reverent worshipers and disciples of Him. This does not fit with the current picture of Jesus in the minds of many believers.
Verses 10-12: The nations will worship the Lord after they have been broken. The psalmist urges the rulers and the people to "Kiss the Son", to receive instruction, to submit.
The theme of Mission is found throughout the entirety of scripture:
Is. 11:10- God is always about mission.
Dan. 7: 13-14- All nations are to serve God.
Jn. 12: 32- Jesus declared that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself.
Praying for the nations to be His inheritance is a great part of our Lord's own prayer life. How much is His command that we pray for more laborers for the harvest (Matt. 9:38) part of our own prayer life? If this is not a major concern in our lives, we must reevaluate our relationship with our Lord. It is my prayer that each of you reading this will have a part in the fulfillment of Rev. 7: 9-10.