He that Sitteth in the Heavens Shall Laugh (2)

Rev. denHartog is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California.

What a scene is painted for us in Psalm 2! Millions and millions of wicked men are arrayed in a tumult against the Lord of heaven and earth. This is a description of the history of the world since the time of the Fall. The whole world of fallen men is arrayed against the Lord and against His anointed. The nations of the earth are joined together. They are enthusiastically united in their evil purpose against the Lord. They take counsel together against Him. The wisdom and intelligence of men, the power, the riches they possess, their political schemes, their military might, all are used for the great battle against he Lord. In home and business, in society, by political unity, through its lust for entertainment, by the propaganda of the mass media, the whole wicked world is involved in a campaign against God. Even the church, with its modernist theology and its rejection of the infallible truth of Scripture, stands opposed to God. False doctrine, heresy, theological debate, seminary training, all are arrayed against God. The men of this world oppose the Word of God. They blaspheme the name of God. They refuse to submit themselves to His holy commandments. In all their lives they are rebels against God. They vow to break asunder the bonds of God's law and cast their cords away. The world of wicked men will not have God to rule over them. The world of fallen men hate God. This is evident on every hand. Under the leadership of the Evil One they seek to establish a rebellious kingdom of man on earth and to overthrow the kingdom of God.

The vain opposition of wicked men is directed specifically against the Lord's anointed, the Christ of God. Already during the old dispensation there were repeated attempts by wicked men to prevent the birth of the Christ of God. Finally, when God sent His own Son into the world, the world despised and rejected Him. They hated Him with a passion. The whole world was united against Him. The leaders of the Jews, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, the multitudes of people in Jerusalem were arrayed against Christ to persecute Him. They condemned Him to death. They screamed for His crucifixion. They nailed Him to the accursed cross of Calvary. Even while Jesus writhed in pain and agony on the cross, wicked men joined together to torment Him by their evil taunts and blasphemies. According to the interpretation of the apostle of the Lord recorded in Acts 4, all of this was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 2.

But in the midst of all the tumult of wicked men against Him, God remains absolutely sovereign. "Calm He sits enthroned on high." God is full of holy wrath against the wicked. He is preparing His final judgment for them. But He is not disturbed in His absolute sovereignty. He looks down from His throne in the heavens and laughs at all the wicked purposes of men against Him. Not all this vast array of evil men, not all their purposes against God through the history of this world, can frustrate His purpose or move Him from His throne in the heavens.

God is sovereign in His eternal decree concerning Christ. If there is one truth of Scripture against which wicked men especially make a tumult it is the truth of God's sovereign decree. By the grace of God this truth has been maintained in our Protestant Reformed Churches. We are hated in the ecclesiastical world because we preach so often about the decree of God, sometimes even by those who profess themselves to be Reformed and to be defenders of the truths of sovereign grace. We boldly preach without compromise the truth of God's decree. God is absolutely sovereign in His eternal decrees. Nothing can alter the decrees of God. Nothing can prevent God from realizing His decree. According to Psalm 2 God is undisturbed in His sovereignty by all of the raging of the wicked world against His decree concerning Christ. This is wonderful! God says in the midst of all the tumult of the wicked world against Him: "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."

All things are fixed from eternity in the sovereign decree of God. God's purpose in Christ is absolutely foremost and central to His decree. God's decree concerning Christ is His central purpose in history. Everything that takes place in history must serve the purpose of the decree of God in Christ. God will realize every detail of His decree concerning Christ, no matter what wicked men may do.

The absolute sovereignty of God in His decree concerning Christ is demonstrated in that God openly declares His decree. God does not keep His decree a secret. He makes it known. The Lord had David, the author of Psalm 2, declare the truth of God's decree. The truth of God's decree is declared throughout the Scriptures. God makes His decree known for the comfort of His people and the glory of His own name. Opponents to preaching about the decree of God will often say that the truth of God's decree belongs to the secret things of God. Because the truth of God's decree is not revealed to us, it is wrong for the church to preach about it. She must keep silent about something she knows nothing about. The fact is that God has declared His decree concerning Christ in the Scriptures, and He will have His church preach the gospel of His sovereign decree. God is glorified when the truth of His decree is boldly declared. Thousands of years before the coming of Christ into the world God, through David, declared His decree concerning Christ. The truth of God's unchangeable and sovereign decree in Christ makes prophecy possible. There could be no prophesying of what God will do in the world and in history if God did not make His decree known. The prophets of old could boldly declare what God would do in the fullness of time. There is no doubt about the fact that God will realize His decree concerning Christ. We as God's people who live in the midst of the tumult of this ungodly world and are persecuted by the wicked world need to hear about the comforting truth of God's decree. The early New Testament church, as it was beginning to experience the fierce persecution of the enemies of God and of Christ, found their comfort in Psalm 2.

From eternity God has decreed that Christ His Son should be the King of Zion. He is the Lord's anointed for that purpose. Zion is the throne of God's kingdom. It was typically represented in Jerusalem, the capital city of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. David's throne, set up on Zion, was a type of the sovereign throne of God and His Christ. The throne of Christ will stand at the center of the new heavens and earth in glory. It will never be overthrown. God's decree is that His Son should sit on the throne forever and ever.

Of greatest significance is the fact that Christ sits on His throne by God's eternal decree. Christ is not made king by men in time. God did not consult men regarding whom they would have to rule over them. Christ did not become king by popular vote. Fact is, the whole world showed itself as not wanting Christ to be king over them. Yet God, according to His eternal decree, triumphantly declared that His anointed would be the King of Zion. Not even as far as individual men are concerned did Christ become king first only by man's choice. This is the foolish teaching of so many Arminians in the church-world today. According to their teaching, Christ only desires to be king. Christ wants to be king over all men, but He is powerless to effect His rule over anyone that rejects Him. Christ begs and pleads with men to make Him the Lord of their life. But God's decree concerning Christ is frustrated because men everywhere will not acknowledge Christ to be their king. Christ can only become king if He is accepted by men, only if men by their own free will let Him come into their hearts. Nothing could be further from the truth of Psalm 2 and the rest of Scripture than this false teaching. The Arminian heresy presents a weak and powerless God who needs not to be feared at all. He is wholly dependent on man. The decree of God is made of none effect according to this false doctrine. But how different is the truth of Scripture, how gloriously and fearfully and wonderfully different. Christ reigns by God's decree. According to this decree God gives Christ the power and authority to reign. The elect of God will, by the sovereign and irresistible operation of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, acknowledge Christ as King. The wicked in the end will be forced to realize that Christ is King by God's decree. They will be destroyed because they set themselves against the Lord's anointed.

According to Psalm 2 God set His Son upon the throne of Zion for a very fearful purpose. Christ is set on the throne of Zion to destroy the entire host of those who are arrayed against God. According to His decree God will give the heathen to Christ for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. The entire universe will become the sovereign domain of the Lord's anointed. Christ will rule over all the heathen and ungodly nations of the world with a rod of iron. He will dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. The reference here is not to the rule of God's grace in the sphere of His kingdom among His saints. Christ will rule over His own, over the blessed saints of God who are His elect, with the scepter of His grace and Holy Spirit. Psalm 2 speaks of the Lord's rule over the wicked nations of the earth who will not acknowledge Him as King and as God. Christ will force them into submission and cause them to serve His purpose even contrary to their own will. He will show the utter vanity of all their opposition against God. He will conquer them completely and destroy them utterly. This is a fearful description of the dealings of Christ with all those who oppose Him and rebel against God. The words "break them with a rod of iron" and "dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel" are not descriptions of the wonderful saving ways of Christ with His own. They are terrible descriptions of the destructions and judgments that Christ pours upon the heathen and ungodly nations of the world. Christ will destroy His enemies in the righteous judgment and holy wrath of God against them. Psalm 2 pictures the terrible final judgment of Christ upon the wicked.

God is absolutely sovereign over the wicked world. This is realized most fearfully and absolutely in the history of the crucifixion of Christ. The Jewish Sanhedrin condemned Jesus to death in a court where the grossest miscarriage of justice the world has ever known took place. Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified though he had carefully examined Jesus and declared over and over that he could find no fault in Him. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus in their base hatred of the Holy Son of God. The multitudes with a loud voice demanded that Jesus be crucified. Indeed the whole world was arrayed against Christ to crucify Him. The words of Psalm 2 were fulfilled. But the Word of God in Acts 4 tells us that all this was done in order that these wicked men might do "whatsoever thy (God's) hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."

After God's decree concerning the cross of Christ was fulfilled, God raised Him from the dead. Christ was exalted to God's right hand. Christ was enthroned in Zion. Christ was set upon His throne in the highest heaven. He was made the Lord of lords and the King of kings. All this was done to fulfill God's decree. God gave to Christ all power and authority in heaven and earth. By this almighty power and authority He will subdue all His and God's enemies. He will make His enemies His footstool. We believe according to the Scriptures that even now Christ is reigning with a rod of iron among the nations to fulfill His purpose and bring about the final realization of His kingdom. Though the world refuses to acknowledge God and to submit themselves to His holy law, God is realizing His decree in Christ. None who exalts himself against the Lord and His Christ will ever be able to stand. Already now we see and hear of the fearful judgments of King Jesus in the earth; wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, social strife, revolution among the nations of the world, shocking apostasy in the church. These are not merely "natural phenomena." We know that all these things and more take place according to the dreadful rule of Christ's rod of iron.

The final judgment on this world will also take place according to God's sovereign decree in Christ. Christ will come to dash the wicked nations to pieces like a potter's vessel. The nations of the world will be utterly destroyed by Christ, the mighty Lord and King. This is certainly a thing most dreadful. We truly understand the fearfulness of all of this, however, only if we realize that we are by nature part of the rebellious hordes of the wicked that are arrayed against God and His Christ. We too deserve to be destroyed in the sure and final judgment of His "rod of iron."

The last verses of Psalm 2 set forth what should be the attitude of all men to the fearful prophecy of this Psalm. "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are they that put their trust in him." What an urgent and fearful admonition! There is no one among all the children of men who of himself would take heed to this admonition. All men are hopelessly rebels against God and against Christ and will all be destroyed by His rod of iron. The only exceptions to this are those whom God has chosen to be His own and those whom Christ has touched with the scepter of His grace in their hearts. Only by the mighty and irresistible power of the grace of Christ will any man, be he a mighty and glorious king or a lowly servant here on earth, ever acknowledge Christ as God and King. Our rebellious hearts must be broken and we must be brought trembling with fear before the throne of the sovereign Christ.

Christ brings us to repentance and submission through the power of His Word, the Word as it is found in Psalm 2. We must consciously know the fearful Word of Psalm 2 and submit ourselves unto the Sovereign Christ, the King by God's decree. While the whole rebellious world will be destroyed by Christ's rod of anger, only by sovereign grace will His people be spared. There is greatest wisdom in taking heed to the admonition at the end of Psalm 2. It is utter folly to ignore it. Highest wisdom is to serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. There is joy in being a citizen of the kingdom of Christ, unspeakable joy, the great joy of salvation. But this joy must be mixed with trembling that comes from the true knowledge of our fearful King. We are called to kiss the Son. This was a practice in ancient times. Subjects of a kingdom would sometimes fall down at the feet of their king and kiss even his feet. Kissing the Son of God means that we deeply humble ourselves at His feet. It means that we love Him and worship and adore Him as our God and King.

Psalm 2 exhorts us to flee from the wrath of God lest we be destroyed by His fearful, sovereign power. We must do that by fleeing to the cross of Christ Jesus. Only there can we find a shelter and refuge from the fearful consuming wrath of God that will fall upon the wicked. God's Word calls us to forsake the rebelliousness of our wicked hearts. Broken and humbled by the Spirit of Christ we acknowledge Him with fear and trembling as our God and King.

Those who with humility and fear acknowledge Christ as King own the wonderful words with which Psalm 2 is closed. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."