Why Do the Nations Rage?

Meditations on the Psalms

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

All peoples and nations fight against God. God asks Why? For what reason are the nations doing this? How did they come to the place where such thinking of their hearts is justified? What has God done to illicit a violent and consuming belief followed by insidious action? Why?

Nations refers to a large group of people or locusts or other animals and refers to all countries. Some translations use the word heathen instead of nations. People refers to the individuals of each nation. Rage means to scheme a tumultuous mutiny and plot in vain means to moan or mutter, to devise and imagine idle and empty thoughts. Thus, large groups of people, whole communities and societies, collectively believe and promote wrong thinking and violence against God.

God penetrates to the heart of the mutiny by identifying those who instigated such thinking. It is the leaders and teachers training the people. The kings of the earth set themselves means the kings of the entire planet who have planted their feet firmly, stationing themselves to take a stand. The rulers take counsel together means those who carry the weight and burden of leading the people daily have laid a foundation and seated themselves close together to consult and decide the actions of the entire group. Thus, the national leaders have listened to their counselors who have all agreed their position and place before God is unacceptable.

What king would allow his subjects to rebel in such a fashion? What ruler would discover and allow a conspiracy to develop in their presence? Do they not know before whom they are speaking and thinking and conspiring? No king would allow this to happen. Kings would squash the conspiracy and put the conspirators to death, or at least replace them with those who are loyal and support him and his authority. Why do any think God will allow rebellion against Him?

Peter and John, after the ascension of Jesus, found themselves before the people of Jerusalem declaring the resurrection of Jesus. Several times they were confronted by the same religious leaders who had condemned Jesus. As they entered the Temple they encountered a lame man begging for money. Instead of giving him money they healed him in the name of Jesus in front of crowds of people.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7-10 ESV)

After this miracle and while Peter and John were teaching, the religious leaders sent guards to arrest them and bring them before the same High Priest who arrested and executed Jesus, using the Romans as executioners. Peter spoke to the assembled counsel of religious leaders about their complicity in arresting Jesus and His death, but also about His resurrection. Also, before them, stood the man healed of his lameness. They threatened Peter and John, telling them to no longer teach Jesus and released them.

When relating their experience to the rest of the disciples they prayed and quoted from Psalm 2:

“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:24-28 ESV)

All leaders of all nations are fighting against the eternal God and against His Son, Jesus Christ.

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