Rev. Michael Birbeck is the principal author of EnactedWord.com
He holds a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Cairn University and a M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serves as the pastor of a rural church in North-Central Pennsylvania.
Who rules the world? President Donald Trump? Presidential Nominee Joe Biden? Google? Jeff Bezos? The question is important, because how we answer it vastly impacts whether we have hope and to what degree of certainty we have that this hope will materialize.
Psalm 2 begins with peoples and their rulers rising up against the Lord, “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed… (Psalm 2:2).” “Anointed” refers to the action by which a king was legitimized. Within the historical context of Psalm 2, these words might have applied to the nations of Assyria or Babylon. However, the story they tell has been going on from the beginning of humanity up to present time.
The serpent said to Eve, “…when you eat from [the tree in the middle of the garden] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God… (Genesis 3:5).” Tempted to usurp the Lord’s reign, she and Adam chose to reject his kingdom and establish their own.
The nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “I regard Christianity as the most fatal and seductive lie that has ever yet existed – as the greatest and most impious lie.” Elsewhere he famously said, “God is dead, and we have killed him.” Yet, thinking like his led to the atomic bomb and the eugenic program of the Nazis.
The optimism of the late 1960’s was captured by John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us; above us only sky.” Statistics today show that the religious “nones” are on the rise while the religious ones decline. Yet, are things really any better?
The nations are indeed raging against the benevolent, just rule of the Lord. Yet, Psalm 2 also affirms another reality, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain (Psalm 2:6).”
The backdrop of Psalm 2 is the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7:8-17. There God promised to establish David’s throne forever. The Davidic kings failed to realize this covenant. By 586 BC, when the Southern Kingdom of Israel fell, it seemed the covenant had failed. Yet, later, Jesus, God’s own Son and a descendant of David, came, proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15)!” We look forward to the day when he comes again to rule with an iron scepter, and all his enemies will be placed under his feet (Rev 19:15-16; 1 Corinthians 15:25).
Who rules the world? The Lord does.