Tag Archives: Religious Leaders

Shield of Faith

My shield is with God, 
who saves the upright in heart. (Psalm 7:10 ESV)

True faith in God is one of the major themes of the Psalms and of Scripture. God draws those who are His into His refuge, protecting them and then, in eternity, removing them from the assaults of His enemies. “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you” (Psalm 5:11 ESV). God’s protection comes through faith. Faith is believing the evidence of God’s work, trusting Him to deliver on His promises, and obeying His commands. Believing is an action of the mind or the intellect. Trusting is an action of the moral-emotional self. Obeying is an action of the will. The whole person is involved in the act of faith. Jesus embodied true faith as both God and Man in the flesh, the way God intended from creation.

As Jesus walked through His ministry, He fully obeyed God’s will. Jesus found security in nothing provided by or found in the world. A shield is a buckler, a small, round piece of armor carried to protect the person from the attacks of an enemy. David used the word to describe God’s protection even when surrounded by an overwhelming force. Jesus, when standing trial before the three worldly judges, the Religious leaders, Herod and Pilate, trusted God. Though He died, God lifted up His head from death. “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3 ESV). Abraham was credited with righteousness, because he believed God, who kept His promises. God protected Abraham and his descendants, from whom Christ would descend. “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great’” (Genesis 15:1 ESV).

Only God saves those who are His from all enemies. God’s enemies pursue the life of the righteous to destroy them. To savemeans to be delivered or liberated, to be victorious in battle. Surrounded by sin and sinful people, and constantly tempted by the Deceiver, Jesus was relentlessly pursued by His enemies during His earthly ministry. His enemies continually sought something, anything they could use to destroy His influence and discredit His authority. “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me” (Psalm 7:1 ESV). God will not only deliver from the assault of the enemy, He strikes down those who wage war against Him. “Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked” (Psalm 3:7 ESV). God has no obligation to save any who sin. He saves because of His love. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). God created people in His image for an intimate, eternal relationship with them. His love is eternal, evidenced by His mercy in sending His Son to die for sin and cover those who are His with His righteousness. God’s compassion is boundless.

Our actions, shown through our obedience to His commands, carry no merit before God. No one can work their way into heaven. God has no obligation to any person because of what they have done or will do, or who they are. 

Still, part of the image of God in Man is dominion. God gave man, Adam and Eve, dominion over His earthly creation. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). Dominion is control over a part of creation. Where man lived under God’s authority, the earth and all in it came under the authority of Man. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, He did not remove from them His image. Nor was His image in them corrupted. They were corrupted, the vessel which held the image of God, but His image remained whole and complete. Because of sin, no person exercises the image of God appropriately, or in a godly fashion.

Rebellion brought a war between the corrupted self, which wants control without God, and the image of God, which naturally wants to serve and obey God. Self wants all to focus all attention on self. God’s image wants the bearer to focus all attention upon God. The battle between the two forces is devastating. God’s image irresistibly draws every person toward God while the rebellious, sinful nature, drives away every person from God. We are our own worst enemy.God’s shield is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV). Nothing can remove those who are His from His presence. 

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COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

The Narrow and Straight

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.(Psalm 5:8 ESV)

There is a spiritual pathway that leads to God’s Kingdom. It is narrow, sometimes meandering, straight in other places, steep in some, and impossible to traverse without the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. People start their journey along this route carrying everything they deem valuable. As they walk, they lose stuff that has no eternal value. At the end of the path is a gate, small and narrow which allows only the traveller called by God to enter. They may carry nothing through that gate which belongs in the world. Their old self cannot enter, either. 

“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24 ESV; see Mark 10:24-25, Luke 18:24-25)

In the world is a highway leading away from God. It is fast and wide, and accommodating to all. As people move along this freeway they pickup stuff, adding to their burden, refusing to abandon anything they deem valuable and necessary to their life. Surrounded by many, who jostle and fight for position, they move en mass toward anything that is not God. At the end of the road is a gate, wide and inviting, going to a place where God cannot be known by any who enter. 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

Jesus cleared the Temple at the beginning of His ministry and then again just before His crucifixion and resurrection. He made Himself known, angering the Jewish religious leaders because of His brazen actions and outrageous claims. They were His enemies, foes and rivals, opponents and antagonists. They were against Him in everything He did. It was common knowledge among the people of Jerusalem that the religious leaders wanted to murder Jesus. “Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, ‘Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?’”  (John 7:25 ESV). Everything Jesus did rankled and irritated those who hated Him. Even when Jesus healed sick and maimed people, they became enraged.

Surrounded by such malevolence, Jesus sought God’s will. He prayed for God’s righteousness. This Psalm speaks to Jesus’ desire to know God under the harshest circumstance. “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me” (Psalm 5:8 ESV). To lead, or to be led, means to be guided, to bring to a place with purposeful intent. Righteousness is the rule of law of the King and Sovereign, God’s decrees founded on God’s eternally pure character. Straight means level and smooth, to be perfectly right according to law, directed without mistake or purposeful deceit. Before me means face, presence, person, in front of, as in leading by the hand someone who cannot lead themselves. Jesus is praying that God prepare the way, clear the obstacles which would trip or hinder, and direct His words, actions and motivations, to ultimately bring Him before God, the destination of every spiritual journey.

One of the major themes of the Psalms is the confrontation of those who are righteous against those who are unrighteous. God blesses the man, Jesus Christ, and all who take refuge in Him, because He, and they, do not walk “in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers”   (Psalm 1:1 ESV). His enemies conspire against Him, teaching and training those under their authority to actively rebel against God. They surround Him. But He is not afraid, even when the intent of His enemies is His murder. “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:6 ESV). He challenges them in the thinking of their hearts. “O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?” (Psalm 4:2 ESV). His resurrection is the ultimate victory over their rebellion. “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” (Psalm 2:11-12 ESV).

Jesus does not just pray this for Himself but for all who are identified with Him. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). Those who trust Him, that He will deliver what He has promised, are hidden in Him. What happens to Him happens to them. Where He goes they are. God’s house is in eternity. As Jesus walks toward God’s house, a spiritual path, those who are in Him go with Him into God’s presence. God gave Jesus the purpose and task of drawing those who love Him into His life-giving presence. We carry nothing with us but, for a short time, His cross, which is our cross.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  (Luke 9:23-25 ESV)

Truth

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.(Psalm 5:6 ESV)

Why does God hate lies? When He spoke to the Israelites after He brought them out of Egypt He told them “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 ESV; see also Deuteronomy 5:20). To bear false witness is to speak deceptively about anything to your neighbor or before a group, such as a court of law. God hates lies because His essential, eternal character is truth. He created Man in His image, which means for anyone to speak something that is not true goes against His will in creation. Lying is first against God and then against others. It is one more way for people to reject God and His perfect design for them. In the Garden, the Deceiver lied to Eve, who believed the lie and acted in rebellion against God. Lying is an act of rebellion against the eternal nature of God.

Those who speak lies are anyone who tells a falsehood or deceptive thing about anything, including libel and defamation, slurs and slanders, making statements fabricated to lead another to an untrue conclusion. Deceitful  means treachery, and involves betrayal, treason, disloyalty and sedition.

There are two other words used to describe God’s justice toward those who lie. God will destroy those who lie, which means to perish, vanish and make go away, blot them out, sentence to eternal death, which is separation from Him, the source of life. God abhors them, which means to detest, loathe, to make an abomination, all ritually and ethically. God does not tolerate lies. He then equates lying to those who are bloodthirsty, or those who seek to put others to death for no reason. God equates lying to murder.

When Jesus violently drove the vendors and moneychangers from the Temple courts He was challenged by the religious leaders. They asked Him for a sign, a testimony, to establish His authority to clear the Temple. It was their Temple, in their minds, and not His. It had taken many years to complete and was still not finished. They were in charge of what occurred on the Temple grounds. Jesus’ actions were a direct challenge to their traditional authority. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  (John 2:18 ESV).

Jesus’ response made no sense to them. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). They thought He was speaking about the physical Temple, the structure rising around them. But He was speaking about His body. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21-22 ESV). He did not say He would destroy the Temple. He implied they would destroy the Temple, which is His body. He prophesied their actions in murdering Him and His accomplishment in rising from the dead.

How did they manage to condemn Jesus to death and destroy the Temple that was His body? They lied. Their lies revealed the thinking of their hearts and the bloodthirsty nature of their actions. They believed false witnesses.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”(Matthew 26:59-61 ESV; see Mark 14:55-56)

When Stephen was executed for his witness about Jesus and the gospel, those who condemned him used almost the same lies they spoke against Jesus.

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:11-14 ESV)

Their lies led to the murders of both Jesus and Stephen. They did not violate only one of the statements of God in Exodus 20, but many. By lying and murdering they dishonored God, heaping derision upon His name. Jesus was resurrected and Stephen will be resurrected. Those who lied will stand before God and then be driven from His presence, unless before they die they repent, admitting their sin and embracing the grace of God given through the Man they murdered.

Unafraid

Meditations on the Psalms

I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.(Psalm 3:6 ESV)

Jesus faced both great acclaim and heated opposition throughout His earthly ministry. Those who hated Him included the Deceiver, who did everything possible to frustrate, obstruct and stop His ministry, and the religious leaders of the nation. These religious leaders hated Jesus because He challenged their authority and position of leadership over the people. In addition, the Roman’s hated anyone, not particularly Jesus, who might incite the people under their dominion to rebel against Rome and the emperor.

Those who opposed Jesus were not just politically or religiously motivated. There were many who simply did not care about Him. Or, they cared about His words and ideas for a moment but when He confronted their covetous attitude toward what they considered their stuff, they would turn their backs upon Him and walk away. They cared more for their place in the world than their place in eternity.

God tells us to not be afraidof those who oppose Him because Jesus was not afraid of them. Afraid means to dread, fear, stand in awe, as well as to have reverence and to honor. To setthemselves against means to station, to take a stand, to lay waste, fix their mind in opposition to whatever Jesus represents or commands be done. Those who are hostile toward the authority of the King of kings, either actively fight against Him or passively ignore Him. In either case, their actions, or inactions, destroy the foundation of the relationship they have with God.

We have already seen those who mutiny against God will come to a physical and spiritual end. Their defiant words and works are judged and they are sentenced, then separated from God, the Giver of life. His judgment is a completed action from eternity, yet still works out in space-time history. For God it is done. For those living in the world it will be done but is not yet completed. Jesus was not afraid to stand before the religious leaders, Herod and Pilate, because He foreknew the outcome. He willingly endured the torture of crucifixion because He knew the final and absolute results brought the greatest glory to God.

During Jesus’ ministry, He chose and trained twelve disciples. These disciples, whom He also called apostles, were given responsibility to exercise authority in His name. “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 10:1 ESV; see also Mark 3:13-15, Luke 6:12-16). As Jesus trained them He was forthright in telling them what they would face and endure. Their and our temptations and trials are myriad and used to test. God does not test anyone to discover what they know. He tests so we can discover what we do not know, especially about Him. Throughout our training we are His and there is no reason to fear.

So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:26-31 ESV; see Luke 12:4-7)

Jesus’ disciples, throughout history, whomever they are and whenever they live, stand before those in worldly authority and give testimony about Him. Instead of removing us from the world He leaves us to declare, through words and actions, the evidence of His grace in the gospel. He also leaves us in the world to train and fit us for eternity. Being a Christian in the world brings trails and persecutions. The thinking of our hearts is on full display before the world and before God as we face the same opposition Jesus endured.

Fear is both debilitating and freeing. When we fear we can see that which is in the thinking of our heart. Fearing the world tells us we do not trust God and want that which the world offers more than what God gives. When we fear God, by honoring Him as Creator, placing Him first, then nothing we encounter in this world can potentially or actually remove us from His presence.

Persecution

Meditations on the Psalms

how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul,there is no salvation for him in God. (Psalm 3:1-2 ESV)

Even when surrounded by His enemies, Jesus never complains but looks to God for His deliverance. Foes means narrow and tight, an adversary, enemy or oppressor who is in close quarters. His enemies are rising or standing against Him with murderous hostility. Many is two different words. First, many means to increase, as in a mob of people that grows the longer it exists. Secondly, many means abounding, numerous, strong and great. Both words convey the thought everyone is against the One who is praying. Peoples and nations thunder in anger against the Lord, led and taught to do so by the kings and rulers of nations. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2).

Just as there is a tri-level, parallel statement describing the ungodly in Psalm 1, so there is a tri-level, parallel statement of those who seek to kill the Lord’s Anointed in this Psalm. Jesus’ first exclamation is to identify those who are seeking to murder Him, His many foes, followed by the truth of their rising up against Him followed by their mocking and ridiculing Him.

Jesus faced these three worldly reactions to His divine presence while nailed to a cross. Great crowds of people, including the religious leaders who condemned Him, came to watch the spectacle of a crucifixion. Plus, the place where the Romans crucified their victims was on a major road into Jerusalem. Travel wasn’t convenient at that time. This was the road many people had to use to enter and leave their capital city for commerce or religious reason.

While hanging helplessly on the cross, Jesus endured verbal abuse from the religion leaders instrumental in having Him murdered by the Romans. They mocked Him throughout His ministry and during His trial before the High Priest. They brought false testimony against Him to justify their actions. They knew His words and works and still mocked Him as He hung, tortured and dying, on the cross. “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’” (Luke 23:35 ESV; see Matthew 27:28-43, Mark 15:29-32).

There was a second group of mockers at the foot of the cross. Pilate wrote and placed a placard and instructed the guards to hang it  over Jesus’ head while on the cross. “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38 ESV; see Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, John 19:19-22). Pilate specifically asked if Jesus thought He was the king of the Jews during His part of the kangaroo trial. The placard was an insult to the Jewish people. It suggested a crazy man was hanging below it on the cross. In addition, those directed by Pilate to crucify people had no political acumen or understanding of what they were doing. Trained to view people as objects, the soldiers heaped abuse on the Man. “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37 ESV).

Jesus hung on a cross between two men found guilty of crimes against the people and empire of Rome. We do not know their crimes. “Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left” (Luke 23:32-33 ESV; see Matthew 27:38, Mark 15: 27-28, John 19:18). One of the condemned criminals took up the chant of the religious leaders and Roman soldiers, chiding and mocking Jesus as He died with them. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39 ESV).

What is the taunt hurled at Jesus while on the Cross. It is what He prayed as revealed in the Psalm. “Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.”

The other criminal did not taunt Jesus but saw Him as innocent and undeserving of torture and death. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” (Luke 23:40-41 ESV). He then spoke to Jesus, believing the Man dying on a cross next to him, dying as he would die, was the King of kings. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42 ESV).

Jesus did not come to save Himself from the cross but to save everyone from the wrath of God and eternal separation from the absolute source of life. Jesus promised the man dying next to Him “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 ESV). Only God can deliver on such a promise.

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.