Tag Archives: Rebellion

Ownership

Meditations on the Psalms

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:4 ESV)

Who is man that they should mock God? Who is God that He should allow anyone to mock Him? This verse is a parallel statement describing God’s reaction toward those who do not accept how they were created. God responds to rebellion, especially those who think and believe they can ever abdicate their place before Him, by throwing off the image of God and declaring themselves something other than His.

Laughs means to mock, jest, to make sport of. Derision means to mock, deride, to laugh at contemptuously. People mock God with the thinking of their hearts, so He returns their mockery.

God is Creator. He created man in His image out of dust. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 ESV). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word of God, is God. Through Him all things were created. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3 ESV; see John 1:1-3). This means, as the Creator of all things, especially people created in His image, God owns everything and may do with His creation as He wishes. He desires relationship with all people and would not have given them His image otherwise. This does not mean anyone can separate themselves from Him at their will. That which is created and sustained by God is also governed and given purpose by Him. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV).

Man is created. Though given the image of God for intimate relationship with Him, all are corrupted by sin and hate Him who created them. Sin views the truth as a lie and accepts the lie as truth. “You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding?’” (Isaiah 29:16 ESV). Paul confronts the world’s thinking in the book of Romans, declaring God’s mockery of those who think He is nothing, or less than nothing. “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV). No one has the right to rebel against God.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 10:1-10 ESV)

How vain and absurd are the machinations of those who rebel against God. He will not be mocked. None can separate themselves from Him. Yet, He will separate them from Himself if, at physical death they have continued in their rebellion, refusing the prompting of the Holy Spirit to repentance and the offer of His grace through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

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Rebellion

Meditations on the Psalms

“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:3 ESV)

People do not understand freedom. This is because everyone, whether they realize it or not, are enslaved to sin. Freedom is not the ability to willfully decide to do either right or wrong but the natural, since we are created in the image of God, ability to always do what is right. God determines righteousness according to His divine character. Originally, He embedded this natural ability for righteousness in those created in His image. However, because of Adam’s sin all are corrupted and now only rebel against God with their whole being. People want to be something other than as they were created by Him. How absurd.

God emphasizes the inflexible thinking of those in rebellion against Him with metaphorical language. To burst bonds apart means to snap or violently separate, to tear apart. To cast away means to throw as far as possible, to hurl or shed, the cords, which is a rope or line like that which binds together, as in removing the shackles which have bound and throwing them away in anger. These people view God as a malevolent despot and tyrant, who has and will never give them anything good, nor allow them to pursue their own desires.

Jesus, declares Himself the only way to God. There is no other way. A rebellious worldview and mindset demands Jesus be wrong. Yet, He, being God the Son, cannot be wrong. He upholds God’s justice and declares emphatically that anyone who naturally sins, is a slave to sin.

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father. (John 8:34-38 ESV)

It is the enslaved, sinful world which views obedience to God as unnatural, abnormal and untenable. And it is the leaders and teachers of the world which train people to rebel against God in specific ways. The natural tendency to sin is found within everyone from birth. Everyone sins because everyone has the bent to rebel against God. But, there are those who train and encourage people to rebel in distinctive ways and by precise means, justifying their rebellion with intellectual and emotional arguments.

Everyone teaches and trains others. Everyone leads and directs others. They may not think they do but every motivation and action coaches people who you are and, in some minor or major way, affects their inner person.

People think freedom is defined by what they believe is true and their decisions to act in a individual way. Our world has trained its population to believe truth, and the perception of truth, is an personal matter which affects no one else. Yet, everything we see, hear, read, think, feel either directs us toward God or away from Him.

The image of God in man is the natural, eternal essence to do that for which God designed people. He gave the image to people so He might have a relationship with them and so they might intimately know Him. He made us a particular way and for any to not fulfill the original purpose of God for them does not mean they are a free agent but are broken, bent in a way which precludes them every doing that for which they were designed.

Those who are rebelling against God want to reduce Him to insignificance or nonexistence. They want to kill Him, if they could. His righteousness and justice are odious to them. There is no one in hell who wants to be with God just as there is no one in heaven who hates being in His presence. The world believes that abdicating the eternal, created relationship with God will bring freedom, which has no evidence in reality.

God allows sin to continue so those who are called by Him and drawn into His presence will know thoroughly the power of corruption brought by sin. They seek truth and are directed by the Holy Spirit to know and embrace truth with the thinking of their hearts. Those who embrace sin have turned truth on its head, demanding and teaching that which is true is a lie and the lie is the truth.

The LORD’s Anointed

Meditations on the Psalms

against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

It is against God the people of the earth rage and rebel. YHWH, the proper name for God, is used. His Anointed is Messiah. The progression of their hatred begins with God, who is untouchable, moves to the person of Jesus Christ, who experienced the full wrath of the people, was murdered and was raised from the dead, and is finally directed against Christians, who are the representatives of God the world can touch. It should not surprise Christians who experience suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus tells us that following Him will bring suffering for righteousness’ sake, just because we follow Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ends His description of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven with the reality of the hatred of the world. Those who are and carry the characteristics of the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven will be hated and persecuted by the world.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

After Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He prepared them and then sent them out to preach repentance for kingdom of heaven is at hand. His instructions are detailed. They were to allow nothing to keep them from teaching and preaching His words.

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:17-25 ESV)

It is not against the Christian, who is feeling the brunt of the persecution, the world rages. It is against God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christians identify with Christ and since the world cannot murder Christ again it does the next best thing by persecuting and murdering those who represent Christ.

Why would anyone want to invite persecution? Those who are servants of God know God intimately. They have recognized their sin and rebellion against Him and realized the consequences of their corrupt nature. They have relinquished control of their lives to Him who gives life and begin pursuing Him through the direction of the Holy Spirit. They become wholly His, abandoning themselves and whatever they might have in this world for eternal life. Drawn toward God they cannot imagine returning to the futile and sinful thinking of the heart of those in the world.

When people rebel, it is against God and His Son. When any come to Him it is at the direction and command of God and His Son. Our action toward those who persecute the Christian, ourselves included, is to love them, showing them the light of God through our lives lived in righteousness. We are the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5: 14-16). Our lives are meant to draw people toward God, not drive them away.

Peter, who fully experienced the persecution of the world, tells us “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). It is toward God, the object of the wrath of the world, that our lives direct the world, so the world might “glorify God on the day of visitation.”

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.

Introduction to Psalm 2

Meditations on the Psalms

God tells us bluntly the entire world is fighting against Him, not only refusing to obey Him but actively conspiring against Him. Psalm 2 takes up the theme of Psalm 1, expanding and explaining the extent of the war raging against Him, and by extension, against those who are His.

God speaks in the first person of His completed actions. Psalm 2 begins with God asking a rhetorical question, then He answers His own question with statements of eternal truth found in the rest of the Psalm. Though the Psalm does not speak directly to idolatry, those who are in authority, who teach and train others, instruct their students in the worship of idols because they refuse to worship God. Idolatry is replacing that which only God is and does with anything not God. Those who insist upon setting up for themselves useless idols in the place of the eternal God find themselves destroyed, along with their idols. God will not tolerate continued rebellion, or those who teach and train others to rebel.

Jesus is given all authority over the peoples, kings and rulers of the world. All people mutiny against His authority, refusing to acknowledge Him as King or Creator. All people build up idols to take His place. These idols are blatant creations of their own minds, the thinking of their own hearts, so they might imagine they control their own destinies. How foolish.

Kings carry authority to make and uphold laws. Yet, even kings of the world cannot change that which is set in eternity. They may decree something different than what God has established but they cannot change reality or truth. It is the duty of kings and rulers to uphold truth, not to change truth to suit their individual ends and desire. Idolatry, at its basest level, is the individual changing the truth of God into a lie and saying the lie is true.

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV)

Jesus instructs His disciples to not adhere to the teaching of those whose sole intent is to usurp the authority and place of God. “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6 ESV; see Matthew 16:5-12). Initially, His disciples did not understand these words.

They watched Jesus feed thousands, taking the food available and creating more food for the people. Jesus did that which only God can do, creating one substance out of another. God created Adam out of the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7). He then created Eve out of the rib of the man (see Genesis 2:22). By creating lots of food out of a little food Jesus showed He is God. He then told His disciples to beware of the teaching of those who value tradition over the words of God. Their teaching would lead people away from Him, not toward Him. Jesus thunders severe words against those who lead astray people created in the image of God.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:13-14 ESV)

Standing before Pilate, who thinks he has greater authority, Jesus declares those who brought Him for execution face greater condemnation. “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11 ESV).

Psalm 2 addresses those with worldly authority, placing them directly under the eternal authority of God and warning them of the consequences of rebellion.  God set His Son, Jesus Christ, on the everlasting throne, placing Him over all in the heavens and in the created universe. This is not a debatable fact.

Judgment

Meditations on the Psalms

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. (Psalm 1:4 ESV)

God is still speaking in the first person but those about whom He is speaking has changed from one blessed Man to everyone who rebel against Him. Some people, declared righteous by God, continue to exhibit rebellious characteristics. Others, steeped in rebellion, continue to hate God and do all in their power and strength to fight against Him. Those who obey God are covered by the blood of Christ, having obeyed the command to eat from the living tree of life. Those who disobey God deliberately rebel against His specific command to eat from the tree of life.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, all people fight God. Man’s rebellion grew with our first parents first children. Cain killed His brother Abel because God accepted the sacrifice of Abel.

And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:4-7 ESV).

God spoke to Cain. “Sin is crouching at the door.” His conversation with Cain was personal and intimate. His words were not just a warning but counsel on how to overcome and control the motivation to ungodliness which plagues everyone. Desire means to long for or crave. The word contrary is assumed in the translation. Literally, “it’s desire toward you” is how the words should read. This makes no sense to us unless we grasp the meaning of the word desire. Sin obsesses over total control, almost as if sin has a personality. Sin must have everything contrary to God. Sin’s desire is so absolute Cain would have killed God if he could have. Instead, he killed his brother, a man created in the image of God. In this passage we shown the image of God in Cain is still strong and able to control his rebellious desires.

Cain’s countenance at God’s rejection reveals the wickedness in his heart. He did not want to control sin but to release himself to the control of sin. Cain lost himself in wickedness and ungodliness. From Cain to Noah the wickedness of men grew to the place where everyone, except Noah (and then even he rebelled against God in many ways), actively hated their Creator.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 ESV)

God, the Creator of all, has the authority to bring His creation to a space-time end. He controls creation, sustaining creation by His will. He made creation for Himself, giving man His image so people might intimately know Him. When people consciously decide to not know Him it is His prerogative to bring their lives to an end. This does not mean they cease to exist but their physical lives cease, and with the cessation of their lives comes the end to their active rebellion.

God uses a metaphor in Psalm 1 for the lives of the wicked. Their lives and accomplishments are chaff, which is the dried husks of grain. Inside the husk is the seed, which is edible. People remove the husk from the grain in a process called winnowing. They toss the grain and husk into the air. Lighter in weight, the wind blows the husks away while the heavier grain falls back to the ground. Thus, the grain is separated from the husk so that what is left is usable. The works of then wicked have no value because of their identity with sin, and are separated for eternity from those whose works do have value because of their identity with Christ.

Speaking about Jesus, John the Baptizer uses almost the same metaphor. “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12 ESV)

Sinless One

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed is the man … nor stands in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

Secondly, the person who is righteous before God is not a sinner. He is sinless. Sinners are those with the predisposition and internal bent to rebel. There whole being is built to fight against God. They can do nothing but defy God. They are on a road leading them away from God. To stand in the way of the sinner is to be on the road which leads away from God.

Nor does this blessed Man stand with the attitude of, or being the servant of, those who move purposefully away from God. The way is that which defines them, not just their lifestyle, whose journey and manner of living is as a sinner. To stand is to steadfastly take an unmovable position where, no matter the assault, the person will not budge. They are intractable. Whatever it is that sinners do, the blessed man does the opposite.

When Jesus was tried by the world, the second of the three juries was the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. He was a leader of convenience, caring nothing for anyone but himself. Pilate is mentioned only a few times in the Gospels and then mostly during the trial of Jesus. Luke tells us Pilate was the Governor of Judea (see Luke 3:1). Jesus was told Pilate slaughtered a group of Galileans and mingled their blood with a sacrifice yet Jesus did not focus on the outrage of the Governor but on the reality of sin and the need for repentance.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-3 ESV)

All four Gospels record the interaction between Pilate and Jesus. Perhaps the most revealing exchange is when Pilate asked Jesus a sarcastic and disingenuous question. Jesus told the Governor those who love and embrace truth would follow Him. Pilate contemptuously asked “what is truth?” (John 18:38 ESV). Jesus did not answer him, nor does Scripture suggest Pilate waited for an answer. He cared nothing for truth, deciding to do what he wanted without being encumbered by moral obligation.

Pilate declared Jesus innocent yet, at the insistence of the Jewish leaders, had Him scourged and crucified. Turning Jesus over to the Roman guard, who equally cared nothing of a man’s guilt or innocence, Jesus was cruelly mocked before they tortured Him to death.

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:24-31 ESV)

Pontius Pilate shows the depths of the hold of sin on human nature. Pilate stood in judgment against the Son of God, found Him innocent and then put Him to death. Pilate obstinately stood on his sin, on the path moving away from God, even when confronted with absolute truth and the Son of God in the flesh.