Are you sweating the end times? – The Message of Psalm 2 – by Dr. David R. Reagan –
The Begotten One
Jesus begins His proclamation by repeating the Father’s promise to Him that He will one day rule from Mount Zion over "the very ends of the earth." It is a promise that undoubtedly dates back to the foundation of the world itself. I say that because the Bible tells us that Jesus was foreknown as the Savior who would shed His blood "from before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:19-20, Revelation 13:8, and Ephesians 1:4).
Because Jesus is the Worthy Lamb who was slain for the sins of Man (Revelation 5:9), He is the only one eligible to assert dominion over God’s creation. In that sense, He is the "only begotten" (John 1:14,18) — the only Anointed One of God who is authorized to act in the Father’s behalf as the Regent of planet earth.
This sense of meaning is reflected in the Living Bible’s paraphrase of Jesus’ proclamation: "I will reveal the everlasting purposes of God, for the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son. This is your Coronation Day. Today I am giving you your glory. Only ask, and I will give you all the nations of the world’" (Psalm 2:7-8).
Note that the statement, "Today I have begotten You," is paraphrased to present the real meaning: "This is your Coronation Day." That is why Jesus could address Himself to the church at Philadelphia as the one "who has the key of David" (Revelation 3:7). He is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and its promise:
"I have made a covenant with My chosen;
I have sworn to David My servant,
I will establish your seed forever,
And build up your throne to all generations."
(Psalm 89:3-4)
Once again, keep in mind that the Father’s promise to Jesus is yet to be fulfilled. Remember, Jesus was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) because that is when the Father willed it to happen. But the Father’s will did not become an historical reality until thousands of years later. In like manner, Jesus was crowned from the foundation of the world — also because the Father willed it then — but it is an event that is yet to take place in history.
The Roles of Jesus
The first time Jesus came, He came as our Suffering Savior (Isaiah 53). After His resurrection, He became our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). He continues in that capacity today, ministering as the mediator of our prayers before the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1-2). But one day very soon He will return, and when He does so, He will return as our Glorious King to reign over all the nations of the world (Revelation 19:16).
Jesus is not serving as a king now. He is never pictured as currently being the king of this world or the king of the church. His relationship to the church is portrayed as being like the head to the body (Ephesians 5:23) or a bridegroom to a bride (Revelation 19:6-9).
Jesus is a king-in-waiting. The situation is like that which prevailed in the life of David for many years. David was anointed the King of Israel by Samuel. But David had to wait many years before he was coronated. Likewise, Jesus has been anointed King of kings and Lord of lords, but He will not be crowned as such in history until He returns to earth.
An Incredible Inheritance
When Jesus does return, the promises of Psalm 2 will be fulfilled to Him. The first of those promises is that He will inherit the earth — "the very ends of the earth" will become His possession (Psalm 2:8).
There is a popular myth that when Jesus returns the earth will burn up and cease to exist. That can’t be true because the Bible affirms that the earth is "eternal" (Psalm 148:6, Psalm 78:69, and Ecclesiastes 1:4).
It is true that the earth will be radically changed when the Lord returns. The change agents will be earthquakes and supernatural phenomena in the heavens (Revelation 6:12-13). We are told that every island will be moved and that every mountain will be lowered and every valley raised (Revelation 6:14 and Isaiah 40:4). The image that is portrayed is one of the earth’s surface being smoothed out, with Jerusalem being lifted up to become the highest point on the face of the planet (Micah 4:1).
The earth will also be refreshed. The deserts will bloom (Isaiah 35:1,6-7). The hills will "drip with sweet wine" and "flow with milk" (Joel 3:18). The abundance of agriculture will be so great that "the plowman will overtake the reaper" in the sense that a new crop will be planted as fast as the old crop can be harvested (Amos 9:13). Even the Dead Sea will come alive and teem with fish (Ezekiel 47:8-9).
The animal kingdom will also be restored. We are told that the carnivorous animals will become herbivorous. Thus, "the lion will eat straw like the ox" (Isaiah 11:7). This change will enable the animals to live together in peace with each other and with Man. "The wolf will dwell with the lamb" (Isaiah 11:6), and a "nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra" because the cobra will no longer be poisonous (Isaiah 11:8).
The Eternal Earth
Even when the Millennium ends, the earth will not cease to exist. Instead, its fundamental nature will be changed once again. This time the change agent will be fire.
God will take the redeemed off this planet and put us in the New Jerusalem. From that vantage point we will watch as the Lord superheats the earth and burns away the pollution of Satan’s last revolt.
Then, working with the earth like a hot ball of wax, the Lord will reshape it, and out of that flaming inferno will come a new earth, a perfected earth, an earth which will serve as our home eternally (Revelation 21:1).
Joint Heirs
God has promised to give that redeemed planet to His Son and to His joint heirs — namely, those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In Psalm 2, He promises the earth to His Son. In Psalm 37:11, He extends that promise to the redeemed: "The humble will inherit the earth." That promise is repeated in verses 22, 29, and 34.
These promises are the ones that Jesus referred to in His Sermon on the Mount when He said: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Paul recognized that the same promise was inferred in the Abrahamic Covenant when he wrote that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants (by faith) is that they would "inherit the world" (Romans 4:13).
A Worldwide Reign
The second promise that the Father makes to His Son in Psalm 2 is a natural corollary of the first. Not only will Jesus inherit the earth, but He will also reign over it: "I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance… You shall break them with a rod of iron" (Psalm 2:8-9).
Jesus is coming to reign. That is one of the most persistent themes of the Scriptures from beginning to end. And again, the redeemed will be joint heirs of this promise. We will reign with Jesus.
These truths were graphically portrayed to Daniel in a series of night visions. In one he saw the "Son of Man" appear before the "Ancient of Days" and receive dominion and a kingdom that included "all the peoples, nations, and men of every language" (Daniel 7:13-14). Then Daniel was told that "the saints of the Highest One" would receive the kingdom and would exercise "the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven" (Daniel 7:18,27).
In the book of Revelation Jesus promises that He will give overcomers "authority over the nations" and they will rule over the nations "with a rod of iron" (Revelation 2:26,27).
In Revelation 4, when John is raptured to Heaven and finds himself in the throne room of God, he hears the heavenly host singing a song of praise to Jesus. In the song the statement is made that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb have been made a kingdom, and "they will reign upon the earth" (Revelation 5:9-10).
The Glory of the Lord
And what will be the purpose of all this? There are many reasons for the Millennial reign of Jesus. God is going to use that period of time to fulfill promises He has made to the nations, to nature, to a remnant of the Jews, and to the Saints. But the fundamental purpose is to fulfill His promise to His Son that He will one day be glorified in history, just as He was humiliated in history.
This promise is a persistent theme of the Scriptures. It is the essence of the Father’s promise in Psalm 2, and it is echoed throughout the Bible, in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.
The prophet Isaiah says that when the Lord returns in "terror" and in the "splendor of His majesty," all proud men will be humbled, and "the Lord alone will be exalted in that day" (Isaiah 2:10-11). The Lord’s name will be honored, and He will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). He will return to manifest His glory before His Saints (Isaiah 24:23) and before the nations of the world (Isaiah 66:18).
Paul affirms this purpose of the Lord’s return in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 where he states that Jesus is returning "to be glorified in His saints" and "to be marveled at among all who have believed."
The Spirit Warns
Psalm 2 begins with David speaking as a prophet, lamenting over the way the world’s rulers scoff at the Lord. It proceeds with the Lord laughing over the feeble attempts of men to frustrate His will. It is then punctuated by a proclamation of Jesus in which He announces His Father’s promise that He, the Son, will one day triumph over all the kingdoms of the world.
The psalm concludes with a warning given by the Holy Spirit:
10 "Now, therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with reverence,
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry,
and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled."
(Psalm 2:10-12a)
The Audience
The Spirit’s warning is addressed to the kings and judges of the earth. It is a solemn call for the political leaders of the world to clean up their acts and submit themselves and their nations to the Lord’s will before He bursts from the heavens in wrath.
Unfortunately, this stern warning seems forever to fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. The warning was spoken 3,000 years ago, and power grubbing and political corruption continue unabated to this day. The world’s political leaders continue to thumb their noses at God and mock His Anointed One.
But a "day of reckoning" (Isaiah 2:12) is fast approaching, and what a day it will be! The book of Revelation says that on that day "the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong…" will hide themselves in caves and will cry out to the rocks of the mountains: "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:15-16).
The Lord has delayed the outpouring of His wrath because He does not desire that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But there is a limit to the Lord’s patience, and while He waits, "He reserves wrath for His enemies" (Nahum 1:2). The Lord may be slow to anger, but "He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished" (Nahum 1:3).
But the political leaders of the world are not the only audience for the Spirit’s warning. The warning is also aimed at the redeemed, for — as I have already pointed out — we will one day serve as the kings and judges of this world. So, let the redeemed take notice of what we are called to do as we await the Lord’s return.
A Call to Worship
First, we are called to "worship the Lord with reverence" (Psalm 2:11). The actual Hebrew word here is "serve" rather than "worship." But I like the use of the term, worship, because it emphasizes that our ultimate worship of the Lord is expressed in how we serve Him.
We so often think of worship only in terms of what we do when we come together corporately as a congregation of believers. Don’t get me wrong — corporate worship is extremely important. We were created to worship God (Deuteronomy 6:13), and God actively seeks people who are worshiping Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23).
But the ultimate worship is expressed in what we do when we leave the congregation and return to the world. Do those who come in contact with us recognize that we have been in the presence of the Lord? Do we return from worship "to bless our household," as was the case in King David’s life? (2 Samuel 6:20)
Do you have a passion to worship God? Do you desire to celebrate Him for who He is and what He has done? And do you desire to express that worship not only with the praise of your lips but with the labor of your body and the money you have earned?
One other thing — Do you understand that one day soon You will stand before the Lord and be judged of your works?
A Call to an Unusual Form of Rejoicing
The future judgment which we face for our works is the reason that the Spirit expresses His next command in such an unusual way. He calls us to "rejoice with trembling" (Psalm 2:11).
Have you ever thought about what a strange command this is? A person normally rejoices with laughter, dancing, singing, or hand-clapping. How does one rejoice with trembling?
I think the command relates to the tension that exists in the Scriptures between grace and works. We are saved by grace, and we should rejoice over that and over the completion of our salvation (the glorification of our bodies) that we will enjoy when the Lord returns. But at the same time we should tremble over the prospect of standing before Jesus to have our works judged.
There is both good news and bad news about the Lord’s forthcoming judgment of the redeemed. The good news is so good that many Christians find it hard to believe, but it is true nonetheless. The incredible good news is that the redeemed will not be judged of their sins to determine whether they will spend eternity in heaven or hell.
The reason, of course, is that we have already been judged of our sins. That judgment took place at the Cross when all our sins — past, present, and future — were placed on Jesus, and He received the wrath which we deserve.
That’s why the Bible teaches that if you are covered by the blood of Jesus, your sins have been forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 8:12). They have been removed from the presence of the Lord "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12-13). As Corrie ten Boom used to say, "The Lord has placed our sins in the deepest part of the ocean, and He has put up a sign that says, ‘No Fishing!’" (See Micah 7:19.)
What does it mean for the Lord to "forget" our sins? It means they will never be held against the redeemed again with regard to the determination of their eternal destiny. That’s why the writer of Hebrews could confidently assert that when Jesus appears a second time, He will come "for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (Hebrews 9:28).
So, if our sins have been forgotten, what will be the nature of our judgment when we, the redeemed, stand before the Lord? This brings us to the bad news that should cause us to tremble. We are going to be judged of our works, not to determine our eternal destiny, but to determine our degrees of reward. And in regard to our works, our shortcomings and failures will be remembered.
This news comes as a great shock to most Christians for most seem unaware that their works have any significance, and others do not realize that there will be degrees of reward.
Degrees of Reward
The concept of degrees of reward is clearly spelled out in the Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 3:8 Paul says "each will receive his own reward according to his labor." He then says that our works will be tested by the Lord to determine their quality (1 Corinthians 3:13). He indicates that some will, in effect, be saved with their tail feathers smoking! This is because their works will not stand the test of the Lord’s "fire" (His judgment). He thus concludes, "If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Some of the last words Jesus spoke on this earth had to do with degrees of reward. Those words are recorded in Revelation 22:12 — "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."
The Judgment of Works
How will the Lord judge our works? What criteria will He use?
I believe the starting point will be the gifts of the Spirit which we received when we were born again. The Word teaches that at the moment of salvation every redeemed person receives at least one gift of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7 and 1 Peter 4:10). Some receive more than one gift, and some may receive additional gifts as they develop in the Lord, particularly if they are good stewards of their initial gifts (Matthew 25:14-30).
I believe the Lord will ask each one of us how we used the gifts He gave us for the advancement of His kingdom. And then I believe He will test our works in terms of quantity, quality, and motive.
What about you? Do you know what gifts you have been given by the Spirit? Are you using them to advance the kingdom? And are your motives pure? Are you serving the Lord in the power of His Spirit for the purpose of His glory?
A Call to Commitment
As we await the Lord’s return, we are to "worship the Lord with reverence" and we are to "rejoice with trembling." The third thing the Spirit calls us to do is to "do homage to the Son" (Psalm 2:12).
What the Hebrew actually says here is very clear but is seldom literally translated because it sounds so strange. Literally, the Hebrew words say "Kiss the Son."
For years I wondered what those words meant. I consulted commentaries and found a lot of conjecture, but none of the answers seemed to click in my spirit. So, I continued to pray that the Lord would show me the true meaning of the words.
One day, as I was reading the book of Hosea, the Spirit suddenly impressed a verse upon my heart that gave me the answer I had been seeking. The verse is found in chapter 13.
As this chapter begins, Hosea has just completed his preaching tour of Israel in which he calls the people to repent of their idolatry. To his horror, when he arrives back home, he finds a neighbor bowing down before a silver calf, and he cries out, "Men kiss calves!" (Hosea 13:2)
When I read those words, the Spirit witnessed to my spirit. I immediately thought of the words of the psalmist: "Kiss the Son!" Suddenly, this strange statement made complete sense to me.
You see, if Hosea were alive today and could preach to us about America, I think he would say, "I have traveled all over your land to seek its spiritual temperament, and I say to you, everywhere I go I find men kissing calves!"
Except, I suspect he would put it in modern English: "Everywhere I go in this land I find men kissing CD’s in the bank, chrome plated automobiles, and audacious houses. I see men in love with money, power, and fame. I say to you, take all that the world has to offer, set it aside in a junk pile, and put God first in your lives. Fall in love with Jesus!"
That’s what it means to "Kiss the Son!" It is a call to commit your life to Jesus by falling in love with Him and putting Him first in your life — above career and family. It’s a call to make Him the Lord of everything in your life — your family and job, your hopes and dreams, your thoughts and words, your music, reading material, food, drink, recreation — everything!
By making Him your refuge, you will be delivered from the wrath that is to come (Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9), and you will come to know the full meaning of the last line of Psalm 2: How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
The Message
God is on His throne. He is in control. Three thousand years ago He promised Mankind that His Son will triumph in history. He is currently working out that purpose in history.
God has the wisdom and the power to orchestrate all the evil of Man to the victory of Jesus. The world may appear to be out of control, but what we are experiencing are the death throes of a worn out world and the birth pangs of a new one.
End time events may be fearful in nature. But believers can find peace and comfort in the assurance of Psalm 2 that Satan will be defeated and Jesus will triumph as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The signs of the times tell us that Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven, ready to return any moment to take His church out of this world. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Live with an eternal perspective. Rest in the confidence that while evil men scheme and Satan plots, God sits on His throne in Heaven and laughs.