Why Do the Nations Rage?
“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3
The Christmas story is sublime and simple, concise and memorable. On Christmas Eve at the PAYH one of our young men, instead of reading the Christmas story from Luke 2, read it from his heart, reciting it perfectly for memory. (The Scripture memory program is one of the most important things we do with the young men God sends us.) The Holy Spirit of God chose to keep the revelation of that first Christmas short and to the point. There is no elaboration. Much is left to our imagination and pondering. Just as in some movies I have seen and was disappointed in, to me, there was a quick ending without more elaboration on the main characters. In the Christmas story we hunger for more information like: what happened to the individual shepherds as a result of their glorious experience with the angels and their coming to find this babe in a manger; or who were the Magi and how many of them came on that long journey; or what happened to the families who had their young infant son massacred by an evil king? So many questions unanswered until heaven.
The Matthew account of the Magi from the East tells us that their coming to Jerusalem and asking their questions about a new king of the Jews that has recently been born disturbed Herod greatly and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:3) We understand the fear of evil king Herod that a threat to his throne had been born in his vicinity, but why all of Jerusalem with him? Their conditions under Herod were not ideal. They were oppressed by an occupying force. Yet they were disturbed that the long awaited Messiah had possibly arrived? What are they thinking? Where are their minds? What is their faith? It appears that any interruption of the status quo, as miserable as it was, created too much of an unknown “inconvenience” to their lives. Perhaps it is not unlike many Americans weary or opposed to the global war on jihadists, or the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan from cruel despots, even though America has not been attacked since 9/11. This is too difficult, and is an annoying irritant to “cushy” lives in a presently peaceful America. There is no ability to judge the evil in the world or how quickly it may turn their own lives into devastation if not addressed.
It is the same type of thinking that causes unbelief to ask why did two dozen or more infant babies have to be cruelly massacred just because of the birth of the Messiah? How could God be so cruel as to allow that to happen? And then the typical response: “I cannot believe in a God like that.” There is no understanding of sin and its effects. No appreciation for a whole unseen existence right in our midst, a spiritual world as a very real part of a physical one. There is no recognition of a cosmic battle that affects the lives of every man, woman, and child. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem there was not joy in every heart. Instead there was rage, and wickedness, complacency and annoyance, for He entered a fallen world where a battle was engaged. Robert Southwell wrote a poem expressing this many years ago.
“This little Babe so few days old, is come to rifle Satan’s fold; All hell doth at his presence quake, though he himself for cold do shake; For in this weak unarmed wise the gates of hell he will surprise. With tears he fights and wins the field, His naked breast stands for a shield; His battering shot are babish cries, His arrows looks of weeping eyes, His martial ensigns Cold and Need, and feeble Flesh his warrior’s steed. His camp is pitched in a stall, His bulwark but a broken wall; The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes; of shepherds he his muster makes; And thus, as sure his foe to wound, the angels’ trumps alarum sound. My soul, with Christ join thou in fight; stick to the tents that he hath pight. Within his crib is surest ward; this little Babe will be thy guard. If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy, then flit not from this heavenly Boy.”
As we enter 2008 we need to refresh our minds and hearts with the truth that we all are in a battle we each must fight if we are to stand with Christ in glory. Only in Him will we see victory. As Southwell has said so well, we need to flee not from, but to this Savior of our souls.
“Heavenly Father, fit me for this battle. In this New Year may I fight your fight, not my own. May you be my Captain.”
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