The Rage of Nations
Why do the nations rage?
The answer is supplied at once. It is because “the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and His anointed.” However violent the hostility between them, world governments are at heart united on one thing: they are against the reign of Christ. We look upon the nations as some of them bad, some good; but Scripture points us to the “prince of this world” behind them all. Prompted by him, earth’s rulers today seek only absolute freedom from the sanctions imposed by the law of Christ. They want no more love, no more humility, no more truth. “Let us break their bands asunder,” they cry, “and cast away their cords from us.”
At this point alone in all Scripture is God said to laugh. His King is already upon His holy hill! The early Church was very much aware of Christ’s dominion. More than ever today do we need to remember it. Soon, maybe in our lifetime, He will shepherd the nations with a rod of iron. Our task is to plead with men to “be wise,” to “put their trust in Him.”
Over the course of history, there have been many seasons of darkness in which the people of God have wondered if all was lost. I’m sure that the Israelites in slavery in Egypt despaired whether life would ever change and when it did, they could scarcely believe it. David, in the times when Saul was chasing him and his life was in jeopardy wrote psalms expressing his sense of hopelessness. Later as his son Absalom was attempting to seize the throne and to kill his father, David wrote of his distress. After a great victory on Mount Carmel, we find Elijah hiding in a cave in dark defeat. The New Testament reveals that the disciples experienced seasons of distress, for example, in the boat in the storm and the overwhelming fear when Jesus was arrested. Their fear and doubt was visible when Christ was crucified as we find them in a locked room and when they went back to their old lives. I’m sure that during the persecution of the early church and when the believers were scattered to escape there was dark times. The last book of the Bible, Revelation was written during such a season. The church was facing an attempt by Rome to eradicate it. Thousands of Christians were arrested and put to death in horrible manners. Thousands lived in the catacombs of Rome hoping to escape detection. It seemed that evil was prevailing and the people of God were powerless to stand against it. God brings John to the Isle of Patmos. John is actually there as punishment for preaching Christ and his persecutors placed him on that barren rock in an attempt to silence his voice. In the midst of that dark moment, God invites John to see things from heaven’s view. The first thing that John sees is not the meek Lamb who was led to slaughter for the sins of humanity nor the humble Carpenter who walked the shores of Galilee, but the Lion of the tribe of David, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Gone was the cloak of the flesh and now revealed was the splendor of the glory and power of God. As the angel escorts John through heaven and reveals to him what God has for the future, John records for believers that it is indeed God and not the devil nor the world who is in control.
The Bible records the vain attempt of Satan throughout time to disrupt, decimate and destroy the work and plans of God. We find him attempting to recruit enough angels to overthrow the throne of God in the very beginning of time. He failed miserably although he was successful in seducing a third of the angels to join him. We find him attempting to possess humanity in the Garden and for a season it seemed that he was successful as he enticed Adam and Eve to disobey God but God already had a plan- the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He attempted to thwart that plan by moving on Herod to execute all the children and again God had already instituted a plan as He started the Wise Men on their journey and they provided through their gifts and prophecy the resource for Joseph and Mary to hide Jesus in Egypt. I’m sure that Satan must have felt that he had finally won when he moved humanity to crucify Christ. I’m sure he rejoiced when Christ breathed His last breath. I am equally sure that his glee turned into horror as Christ threw off death and seized the keys of hell, death and the grave. Unwilling to yield, Satan then threw himself into instigating persecution for the followers of Christ and again that failed for the more they were persecuted, the more they proclaimed Christ. And Satan launched his final strategy. He discovered that while persecution failed, the enticement of complacency, compromise and worldly indulgences that stemmed from the marriage of believers to worldly pleasures effectively robbed the church of its power.
We live in a anti-Christ world and we must see that behind the scenes is the devil at work driving this effort. What we must not forget is that in the devil’s best moment and in the darkest moment the world has known, the devil has lost and God has continued His plan.
In modern history, we read that in the dark days of WW II, Churchill and Roosevelt called England and the US to prayer. When all seemed lost, the children of God gathered themselves in prayer and God heard and the power of darkness was broken. We are living in a time when darkness is increasing in our world, when fear is gripping the hearts of people, when anger and despair and hopelessness prevail over our world. As the psalmist writes Psalm 2, he poses a question: Why do the nations rage(against God)? And the answer is that Satan is driving the rebellion and the anger against God in his attempt to throw off the rule of God. As we read the news today we find there is a strong push to throw off any restraint or righteousness and to have the liberty to engage in all manner of behavior and activity without thought or consideration for others or the eventual consequences. We are possessed by the spirit of selfish, self-centered, narcissistic drive and we want what we want and we want it right now. There is a supposition that we are the masters of our destiny and the controllers of our lives. And guess who planted such thoughts in us! So the psalmist in Psalm 2 records the only time that God laughs at humanity. He laughs because He knows the feeble attempts of humans to rule their world or destiny has as much success as a drop of fresh water has to change the salinity of the ocean. He laughs as Satan attempts once again to upsurge His throne.
Many who read Revelation or those who avoid it do so because of its account of the final attempt of Satan to gain control of the world and its people. We might not understand every scene that John paints, but we ought to understand two things. First if all, we need to see that even when the Antichrist is in full power, he doesn’t have complete control and his kingdom only lasts seven years. We need to see that even when it seems that the devil has deceived the world that there is a great multitude in the midst of great tribulation who chose God. We need to remember that Revelation ends with Christ coming with the saints and as they meet the forces darkness, Satan, the Antichrist, the fallen angels and rebellious humanity are defeated and thrown into the lake of fire for eternity and God establishes the kingdom of Christ inhabited by those who have been washed in the blood forever in eternity.
So today if you’re going through a dark season, I hope this has lifted your heart to know that while dark seasons may visit, they have a limited life. I hope you find the faith to believe that behind the darkness, God is working His plan and purpose for you and His creation. I hope that today, the Holy Spirit will push back the veil of darkness and give you a glimpse of the glorified Christ who has overcome so that you might be an overcomer.
Dr. John Thompson