“Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Messiah saying let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us.”(Psalm 2:1-3)
The Psalms have ever served me as my prayer book, from the very beginning of my new life in Christ. As I grew in Christian grace, I realized the value of the Psalms for worship, noticing that a good many songs and phrases of songs came right out of them. Over the years other dimensions of the Psalms have become evident to me.
For example, I now realize that the Psalms are every bit as much a source of wisdom teaching as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Perhaps the fullest and most satisfying aspect of the Psalms is the realization that they bear a prophetic witness to Jesus. His crucifixion, ascension, priestly ministry, and pre-existence are all foretold in the Psalms. It has also become increasingly obvious to me that the Psalms have an eschatological dimension, they speak of the last days, and the events that lead up to them. One of the clearest prophetic Psalms is the second one. It pictures a whole world in an uproar, the heathen (nations) rage, and the people imagine a vain thing. Do we not live in an extraordinarily tumultuous time? Truly the heathen rage! That is, the nations are in an uproar.
Consider what is going on in the world today among the geopolitical players.
RUSSIA AND CHINA
For example consider Russia. When the Berlin wall came down, and the Soviet Empire collapsed, the once dreaded Bear was subjected to humiliation! Supposedly, Western Capitalism had prevailed, the former Eastern bloc was falling all over itself to come into NATO, and once proud Russia perceived herself as being plundered. Clinton bombed the Serb’s, a nation who considered itself the Christian shield of Europe against the Muslim encroachment, and Russia, the traditional ally of the Serbs could do little about it! Russia rages, they would re-assert themselves as a powerful geopolitical player.
Former KGB agent Vladimir Putin was and is a popular leader. China, also rages, she flexes her military and economic muscle. Belligerent generals boast openly of having the ability to strike cities on our west coast. China owns a great share of our national debt, thus our leaders are much beholden to the ruthless Communist leadership of the world’s most populous nation.
The Muslim world also rages. Islam feels that their destiny was to rule over the Infidels, not the other way around! What happened? Modernity happened.
Modern progress, made possible by breakthroughs in the Judeo Christian world, advances in the sciences and economics, as well as militarily, bypassed the Muslim world. It didn’t help that they took the wrong side in both World Wars! They rage with envy, hatred and frustrated impotence, because they can see with their eyes that they could never create a society like the West. However, it just so happens that the guardians of Mecca and Medina–rather than being passed up by history as the useless and retrograde culture that they indeed are–have been given by God (Jahweh, not Allah) control and access to oil, the literal lifeblood of modern society. If not for oil, the rest of the world would yet be ignoring the backwards and retrograde Muslim world, leaving them to their own world. But the oil has changed everything. There can be no doubt that the western, Judeo Christian world has been raging for quite some time also. Consider the contrast of the beginning of the last century, with the beginning of this one, from cultural confidence to outright groveling apology!
The West has never recovered from the catastrophic, suicidal slaughter that we call World War I & II! Subsequently, the retreat from the colonization of the so-called third world will not abate until every “Rhodesia is reduced to a Zimbabwe”! The problem with the collapse of our western culture is that you can’t maintain a culture without a “cultus,” that is the religion that animates the culture. For the most part the western world has lost its religion, therefore it is dying. Perhaps this is the part where the “vain imagination” comes in. As the Psalmist says, “Why do the people imagine a vain thing?” What is the vain imagination peculiar to the western world? I believe that the vain imagination is that we can build an enlightened, liberal, loving, productive and civil society, without any reference to “The Lord and His anointed” (anointed means Christ).
We are always the ones who are going to get rid of the “old ways” and do it better! We can create a perfect society and we don’t need “The Lord and His Christ” to do it! As the Psalm predicted–it’s all about liberation movements and false freedom–that hallowed idol, the false god of the former Judeo Christian world. The Kings of the earth and their rulers (authorities, scientists, social engineers, pundits, opinion shapers) all say in one form or another, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us,” they would liberate us from the “bands” (religion means “that which binds”). We in the West have spent a lot of capitol, time and energy over the last century, trying to construct godless Utopias, brave new worlds, founded upon the new scientific knowledges, the latest social theories, and upon the goodness and perfectibility of man! These “isms” were the exciting, avant gard idols of their own times–Fascism, Socialism, Communism, etc. The problem with these Utopias was that they all ended up resembling hell on earth! The vain imagination keeps reasserting itself, the latest being the 1960s vision, which seems to be the prevailing wind blowing today–â€œ”Imagine there’s no heaven, nothing to live for or die for, no distinction between man or woman, right or wrong, truth or error.” This is the basic gist of the post modern, post Christian new culture.
The vain imagination is addictive, no matter how many times it has manifestly failed, it is an image, an idol, therefore the allegiance to it runs deep, and it is spiritual! It is vain, empty, and based on false premises. Did the so called sexual revolution, give us anything other than heartbreak, the dissolution of the home, the corruption of innocence and the death of all real love?
But still they cling to it, they tell themselves we really are better off than ever before! Liberated! (From what?–love, commitment, loyalty, selflessness, marriage and the role of male and female? That’s liberation?) What a nightmare we have created in the West! Two school children in the United Kingdom took the summer holiday as boys and came back to school as “girls”–having been given sex change operations at the age of 9 and 12! Such societies cannot last too much longer. As God has said in the book of Proverbs, “All they that hate me love death.”
The love of death is now in vogue, this generation loves death. Abortion (fifty million in the USA since 1971!) birth control, homosexual marriage, gender confusion, and much more, are all forms of the love of death. Most of the western European societies that bought into the Utopian vision do not even replace themselves demographically! All those who hate the God of the Bible love death! What will the outcome be? The nations will rage at each other–Russia, the European Union, China, the Muslim world–Sunni and Shia, and of course the USA–all competing interests–riled and tumultuous–like the waves of an angry sea. All interconnected as well, everybody trying to appease the Muslim world, because all are desperate for oil, everyone in competition for that oil. The other factor that the Psalmist brings in that complicates the situation immeasurably is Israel. Israel, as we will see, is in a unique category, and as the Hebrew prophets predicted, is destined to become the focus of the rage of the heathen. (Click here to read part two.)