“’As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree; The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’” (Psalm 2:6-9)
For as long as I can remember, I have been curious. Like the proverbial cat, it has gotten me into more trouble than I wanted. My favorite question to ask in almost every situation is, “Why?” Though I never plumb the depths of that question even for the most mundane things, the process affords me a better understanding of the created world and my miniscule place in it.
And that brings me to the first verse in Psalm 2: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” My generation was the first to see the grotesque and gory images of a war, occurring half-way around the world, up close and personal. It was the impetus for those a few years older than me to protest against that war. There is something inherent in us that says war is wrong. We understand that men killing men should not be, whether on the street corner or in fields far away. And so we clamor for solutions.
For those coming of age in the 60s, it was “Make love, not war.” And yet, that brought no solace to the soul. Rather, it led to the debauchery and excesses of the 70s. “Free love” is anything but free! There was, and continues to be, a steep price to pay. The John Lennons of the world told us to “give peace a chance.” But again, there was not even a hint that this brought real, lasting peace.
And that brings us to the horrors we see unfolding in Ukraine. I find my stomach in turmoil as I think of dear friends in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Poland who are dealing with the conflict, displaced to foreign lands or coopted to serve at the behest of another. Obviously, this is a well far too deep to explore. And yet, as a follower of Christ, I find that I need to understand the pain and suffering that is being exacted, often on very vulnerable and helpless people.
“Why do the nations rage…?” The Psalmist gives us a hint in the following verses: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’” Even as we kill, maim, and displace millions of people, the root cause is rebellion against our Creator, and against the One who would come to establish a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, whose hallmark is peace and goodwill.
The next verse then causes us to pause and wonder. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” This is not the fickleness of the Roman pantheon or the impotence of the those who reside on Mount Olympus. This is not a laugh of derision. This is disgust with the vanity of humanities effort to welcome in a utopia that brings that peace and goodwill. It is the fury of the wrath of God on the wickedness of men who pursue a life apart from their Creator.
And so we see what God is going to do about this rebellion of mankind. “Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” Who is this King? “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The answer to humanities deepest need, to break the chains of sin, is found in the only Son of God. It is His Kingdom that will bring that which we so desperately need.
So what can I do? It seems trite to sit in the quietness of my charmed life here and pray. But that is what I can do. I can pray that God would be merciful to those under siege and those who are the aggressors. I can pray for the Church of Jesus Christ in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Romania, and Belarus, that she would be bold in the proclamation of the Gospel of this Kingdom, that men and women, boys and girls, great and small. would bow the knee to this great King. “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled” (Psa. 2:10-12).
I can engage with those on the ground to better understand the tangible things I can do, whether that is natives or missionaries serving there. And I don’t need to read the tea leaves of history as though it must be the end. Wars and rumors of wars will be with us to the end. Only when the last trumpet sounds, when “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,” will there be lasting peace and charity, a Kingdom whose King “shall reign forever and ever.” “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.”