“Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?” Acts 4:25, Psalm 2
So, today’s a sidetrack but not a sidetrack. Life happens in the midst of our devotions and meditations and diverts us, not from meditating, but sends us deeper into prior meditations. So that’s where I’m dwelling right now.
Not long ago, I was memorising Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things. The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take council together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us.’ He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. ‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’ I will declare the decree: ‘The Lord has said unto me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten You. Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
At first read, maybe that sounds depressing and harsh. I mean, it talks about the Lord dashing the heathen to pieces and breaking them with a rod of iron. That’s harsh. That sounds “Old Testament”-ish. It doesn’t apply today, right?
Well, maybe we haven’t been reading it rightly. Because this is the same scripture that the new believers referred to as they were rejoicing following some of their first persecution after Peter and John healed a man by the power of Jesus (Jesus-that one that God was ultimately referring to through David’s words, the one He has set on His holy hill of Zion). So, I want to see where Peter and John and the new believers go with this.
Peter and John had been heading to the temple in Jerusalem, and on their way this day, there was a man crippled from birth laying outside one of the main gaits for entering the temple, the Beautiful Gate. There he was, asking for alms, because that was the only way he had of making a living. Peter and John, didn’t just have compassion on this man but they listened to the Holy Spirit on how to show that compassion. They had no money to give him. They had something better. Peter didn’t just see this beggar man. He fastened his eye on him, and John did as well. There was something greater going on here. Then they told the man to heed them, not just look at them. So he did, but only expecting money. But, that wasn’t what he got.
“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” And Peter took him by the right hand, lifted him up, and he lept and walked and entered the temple with them praising God. Everybody saw. So why didn’t everybody believe?
Sometimes, we all get so caught up in anger and in imagining and striving toward things that are just vain, just empty. We get so caught up, we can’t see the truth in front of our own eyes. The truth is that there is Someone reaching out to us who is able “to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20) If only we would let that power work in us…
Life is like a bag of balloons. Well, that’s rather “Forrest Gumpish, isn’t it? But I’m a balloon twister sometimes. And my whole bag of balloons is really useless unless I fill them with air and form them into balloon creations. What good is a bag of balloons that just stays a bag of balloons. Here in the heat of the Philippines, they will just degrade before long. Then what good were they, unless I let them be filled with air and shaped and molded and allow them to bring joy to others.
God’s whole goal is for us to be “filled with the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19) Our problem is that we’re too busy occupying ourselves with things that just keep leaving us empty. We keep our imaginations and thoughts and strivings on things that can’t fill us, and never will. The truth is, knowing the Son is the only way to know the Father. Knowing the Son is the only way to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:12)
One of the things these verses from Psalm 2 and Acts 4 reminds me is that there are hard things in life. But even in the midst of difficulty, God’s fullness in Christ brings power, prayer, and praise. Look at Peter. Look at John. Look at the lame man. Now see the glory of Psalm 2 for yesterday and today and forever: “Lord, thou art God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of your servant David has said, ‘Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever your hand and your counsel determined before to be done. And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:24-31)
Do I believe that God is in control of every circumstance in my life, even the bad? Do I cry for escape or is my greatest prayer for boldness to proclaim the wonder and power of God? Who am I like? Where are my thoughts focussed? Lord, may my thoughts be focussed on you no matter what kind of chocolate I pull from the box.