Subduing the Kingdom
Ephesians 2:6; Psalm 2
Ephesians Series #57
January 19, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re so thankful for Your Word. Our Lord prayed that we are sanctified by Your Word—we’re sanctified by truth and Your Word is truth. Father, it is truth because it originates from You, was breathed out by You. Your character makes it impossible for it to have error; You oversaw the process in such a way that You prevented the writers from writing error.
“Father, we know that over time there are many interpretations that are wrong simply because we are fallen, fallible human beings. Often we put our own agenda into the Word and interpret it the way that we would like it to be interpreted in terms of our own experience rather than taking the time, the diligence to dig into the text, to really understand what it says and what it means.
“Father, too often we’re willing to skip along the surface without coming to a real knowledge of what You’re communicating to us. Father, we pray that we might never lose that hunger, that desire to dig into Your Word, to have a zeal for Your Word, to yearn for Your Word.
“Not that we might be proud of our knowledge, but that we might grow more closely with You, that we might walk more closely with You. And that we might through Your Word and God the Holy Spirit be transformed into the image of Christ, and that His character will be displayed in our lives that we might glorify Him.
“This we pray in His name, amen.”
Our study in Ephesians 2, continuing the topic that we’ve been studying on the ascension and the session of Christ, is at the heart of Ephesians 2:6. We’ve been looking at background Scriptures from the Old Testament, so that we can understand the significance of this phrase because Paul just uses it, throws it out there as if everybody knows.
Of course, his original audience knew because he had taught them well. But we live in a world today when we’re not taught so well, we’re not as familiar with Scripture. We need to see how this fits within that web of revelation that paints for us a complete picture of God’s plan and purpose for history and His plan and purpose for each one of us as we fit within that overall view of history.
Slides 3, 4
Ephesians 2:6: we were raised up together, and he made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
In Ephesians 1 we are introduced to this reality that we have been raised and seated together with Christ. We refer to it again when we come to Ephesians 4:7–11. It is a foundational thread that runs through all of Ephesians. It comes out of that opening statement that Paul makes in Ephesians 1:3 that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Paul, of course, can’t go through every one of those in Ephesians, but he goes through quite a few of them, and understanding how this is a blessing for us is one of the things we’re going to focus on this morning.
Being seated together in Christ relates to His current session in heaven, “session” being an old Latin word that indicates being seated. He is seated now at the right hand of the Father, and this is mentioned and alluded to in numerous Scriptures in the New Testament.
Therefore, we see that as it is spread throughout many different writers in many different books of the New Testament, that this is foundational for our understanding of the spiritual life. We’re looking at what the Bible teaches about the session of Christ.
We’ve been addressing the question of God’s plan, because something happened after the crucifixion that was unexpected on the basis of the Old Testament revelation. Never before did God reveal that there was going to be this intervening Age that would come before the kingdom.
That was because it gave Israel a chance to accept the offer of the Kingdom when Christ came at the First Advent. In their rejection of Him as the King and their crucifixion of Him, that kingdom was postponed.
There’s an Inter-Advent Age—the Church Age. It’s not that God went to Plan B, it was always God’s plan; He just didn’t reveal it to us. That’s why it’s called a mystery—previously un-revealed truth—in the Scriptures. Exploring this—the whole issue of the ascension and session of Christ—is what helps us to understand the role of the church in this Church Age and the role that God has for each one of us as members of the body of Christ, the Church.
We’re looking at the purpose of the ascension and this present Church Age. We looked at background Scriptures to understand this from the Psalms—Psalm 110, the most quoted Old Testament chapter in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 and Psalm 110:4 are cited numerous times.
Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand…’” This is applied to the ascension of Christ in Acts 1, where He ascends to heaven and then sits at the right hand of the Father.
Psalm 110:4 says that He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek; therefore, as we talk about the fact that we are seated in Him because He is the High Priest, we have a priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek as well, within Him, and that relates to our priestly ministry as members of the body of Christ.
Briefly I talked about Psalm 68:18. I’ll wait to get into that when we get to Ephesians 4, but that is the background for what Paul says there about Christ’s ascension, so that He can give gifts to men. He applies Psalm 68:18, changes a couple of words, and then applies that to the distribution of the leadership gifts in the Church, so we will cover that when we get there.
Then Daniel 7:13–14, because this comes from a prophetic view of what happens when the waiting period is over with, as THE LORD told my Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah in Psalm 110:1, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool …”
That’s the waiting period. Daniel 7 shows the endgame of that waiting period and what happens. We will follow that up with what we learn from Psalm 2—which will be the focus this morning—showing the Messiah’s victory is military victory over His enemies.
I was joking with a couple deacons this morning that I’ve got to quit studying. I thought we’d get to Psalm 2 last week, and I finished up with about eight pages of notes last week. Then went in this morning and printed out 15 pages of notes when I finished studying.
So I don’t know if we’ll get through all of it this morning, but I’m looking forward to a time when I can really get into Psalm 1, Psalm 2, Psalm 3, which is what we will do probably when we finish up with Samuel.
Some of these psalms are just absolutely profound, and as I’ve been studying them more and more over the last 10 or 15 years related to all of these issues that you and I’ve talked about many times related to Messianic prophecy, there’s just so many things that are going on that weren’t even evident at all when I went through seminary.
A lot of people get the wrong idea about seminary. They think when you go to seminary, you learn everything. You don’t. What you do in seminary is you get a foundation. The word “seminary” comes from the root word for “seed.” Seeds are planted. You learn some things about Greek and Hebrew.
A lot of people have never looked at their Greek or Hebrew text again. But if you use it, and the more you use it, the better you become. I don’t think too many do, unless they are just gifted in languages. I am not; people think I am. I’m good at Greek exegesis because I taught first-year Greek about five times through the 80s, and then I taught something about it every year when I was working with the WHW Ministry from about 2000 to 2009.
When you do that every year, you finally begin to get some of these things through your head, and you learn some principles. But that’s what’s important in order to develop some of those exegetical skills. They don’t just happen because you got a Th.M., and you finish four years at seminary somewhere. Same thing with Hebrew, Hebrew grammar, and learning a lot of these things.
As we look at Psalm 2 today, I’m amazed, as I look back through my notes, as to how much I didn’t know when I taught Psalm 2 in the 80s, when I taught it in the 90s, when I taught it a decade ago, and even in the last few years, because there’s so much that’s coming out, especially in these areas of the Psalms.
One of the things that has happened is we’re beginning to realize—more and more scholars are coming to understand and write about this—that from the time that religious liberalism came on the scene towards the end of the Enlightenment Period—the 1700s, called “Critical Scholarship,” which denied Mosaic authorship, denied divine authorship of the Old Testament, interpreted Jewish religion within the framework of the evolution of religions, and many other things— that a lot was lost.
For example, when I was going through seminary, we were not taught that there were very many Psalms that were truly written as Messianic prophecy. It was cloaked in different language because everybody wants to say that some of these passages are prophetic. But when you get to the nitty-gritty, they were talking about something historical and that New Testament writers took these things and applied them to Jesus.
What we’re learning, what I’m learning and what several people have been writing about, is that actually these Psalms were written to be solely prophetic. In fact, I’m not sure if I can go there yet, there are some who think that every Psalm is ultimately about the Messiah: that the whole of the psalter is about the Messiah.
Even if that may be overstating it, I think a vast number of psalms are about the Messiah. They were written about the Messiah. They’re not written about some historical situation in the life of the writer. They are written about the Messiah; they are predictive of the Messiah. All of the Old Testament is Messianic in some sense. It all points—and much of it is prophetic or the types are intended to—teach about Jesus.
Psalm 110:1, “Sit at my right hand …” The Messiah ascends, sits at the right hand—a position of honor, a position of prestige—but it is not a position of action. In Psalm 110:1, 4, it’s connected to His priesthood.
From that passage, we learned that the future Messiah is fully divine because YHWH—God the Father—said to my Lord, who is the authority over David and David’s the highest authority on the earth, God’s anointed king in Israel.
1. The future Messiah-King—“my Lord”—is fully divine.
2. This future Messiah-King is at the right hand of God the Father
3. The future Messiah-King is awaiting a future victory …
… which is affirmed in the New Testament in Hebrews 10:13 “from that time waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.”
He is waiting. He is not pictured as a king in conquest. He is portrayed as a Priest advocating and interceding for His people, and that is indicative of our role as we are seated in Him.
Psalm 110:4 points that out as the terms of His priesthood.
We went to Daniel 7 last time, looking at the fact that the future Messiah King will eventually defeat the enemies of YHWH. But now he is waiting for that time to come.
During the intervening period:
1. We’re seated with Him.
We too are awaiting the giving of the Kingdom. We’re awaiting the end of the Church Age, but in this Church Age we know that we are to be prepared. What we are to be about in our spiritual life is training. We are to be trained, so that when that time comes, we will come with Him, and we will form the cadre of the leadership of the Messianic Kingdom.
Some will have different positions, higher positions, some will have lesser positions, and some may have no position. It is all predicated upon how far we advance in our spiritual life, our capacities spiritually in terms of knowing the Lord; and therefore, God will base our positions on what we have, how we have grown in this Age.
This clearly denies the interpretations known as amillennialism and postmillennialism.
2. Like Him, our role is related to our royal priesthood in Him, and so we carry out the mission of the Great Commission: witnessing to others, evangelism, teaching, prayer, ministry to one another in the body of Christ.
Let’s look at Daniel 7; I want to add a few things to what I said the last time. Daniel 7 is one of those great chapters in Daniel that outlines the future of God’s plan for Israel and the nations surrounding Israel. It is parallel to the image that God gave Nebuchadnezzar in a dream back in Daniel 2.
In Daniel 2 is the image of man: the head of gold, the torso of silver, etc., and all that depicts the kingdom of man in some sort of valuable metal.
Here the kingdoms of man are portrayed as vicious, voracious, destructive beasts. There are 4 beasts, 4 kingdoms; the final kingdom is portrayed as a unique, distinct, horrible beast that has 10 heads, representing 10 kings.
We see the end result described, Daniel 7:13–14, at the end of the time period where the kingdom of man has dominion. It will be brought to an end. This is what happens at the end of the session when Christ is given the kingdom.
Daniel 7:13–14, “I—Daniel—was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man—as he’s looking, he sees heaven. He is seeing the Son of Man, who is the Messiah. He’s not God the Father. The Son of Man is a second divine personage who is human as well. He comes with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days—that’s God the Father—and they brought Him—that is, these angels surrounding the throne of God—brought Him near before Him—the second ‘Him’ is God the Father.
“Then to Him—the Son of Man—was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”
This is that final kingdom of the Messiah that is predicted in the Old Testament in numerous passages where the Ruler is what we call the greater Son of David—not one of the human kings that come from David’s lineage—but the One toward whom they all point who is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the future King of kings and Lord of lords.
A couple of other things related to the context here. As Daniel is looking at this historical scenario from the past, he sees it as completed history. This is what will happen; it is history that has not yet occurred.
He saw this fourth beast who’s “dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth …” That takes us back to the image of the man that Nebuchadnezzar saw in Daniel 2: the legs of iron, the feet which are a mixture of iron and clay. This fourth beast relates to that 10-nation confederacy we call the “Revived Roman Empire.” The 10 kings are related to the 10 toes of that statute.
This kingdom—this is not talking about the historical Roman Empire, but the revival of the Roman Empire that is yet future—is “… devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet.”
The residue of what? What remains upon the earth, and especially that, I believe in context, he’s assaulting the saints. He’s talking about the residue of God’s people that are left during the Tribulation Period.
It was different from all the beasts that were before, and it had 10 horns. Then Daniel says, “I was considering the horns …” This takes some time; he is thinking, “Well, what does horns mean? What’s going on there?”
While he is contemplating the 10 horns, another horn, an 11th horn, pops up in the midst of them, and this little horn, then, attacks three of the others and pulls them out by their roots.
Those 10 horns represent 10 kings, 10 kingdoms, 10 nations. Then you have the rise of this other power, the little horn, and the little horn apparently has to conquer three of those 10 horns and subdue them. Then he is described as a man who speaks pompous words; he’s filled with arrogance.
This isn’t normal everyday pride. This isn’t getting up in the morning and getting dressed and looking in the mirror and being pleased with how you look and how you dress. This isn’t going to work in accomplishing some task and being somewhat pleased and proud of how you did, that you accomplished, and you did a good job.
This is hubris. This is an arrogance where you look at yourself as a replacement for God. This is Satan’s sin; it is arrogance on steroids—this is the idea here. This is the man who thinks that he can do everything that God planned and promised to do and bring peace and harmony to God’s creation.
Daniel 7:9, “I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat.”
This precedes the verses that I read at the beginning, and it is a similar picture to what we read in Revelation 4 and 5. These thrones would relate to the Church Age elders, I believe.
It doesn’t talk about the church, doesn’t define it that way, it just uses a very generic language. I think it’s talking about the church in the future, but that’s not distinctively church language. So when I say the Old Testament doesn’t talk about the church, it is clear language.
When we get to the period in Revelation 4, we see the 24 elders, and those, I think, are the thrones that he sees here. But they have no idea. Jews would look at that and read it as the thrones related to Israel.
“… the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were burning fire.”
This is God the Father; it is the same image that we have in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10 of the throne room of God.
Daniel 7:10, “A river of fire was flowing, and coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened.”
Daniel 7:11, “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words.”
Daniel 7:9–10 gives us the scene of the beast that is ravaging the earth. The second scene looks at what’s happening in heaven.
This goes back to what is happening on the earth, “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking. I watched till the beast was slain—that’s the destruction of the 4th beast—and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” It’s not talking about an individual, it is talking about the destruction of the kingdom of the Antichrist.
We will skip to the interpretation that comes later Daniel 7:21–22, “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them.”
This is going on during the Tribulation period. The term “saint” simply refers to those who are sanctified. It can refer to Old Testament saints. It can refer to Tribulation saints. It can refer to Church Age saints. It is not a word that is specific to any one group. He’s just saying that he’s making war against those who are believers, and in this case, we know that they would be Tribulation saints.
He prevails against them “until.” Here we have that “until” again, just like the Messiah is to sit at the Father’s right hand “until,” a time word: until you reach a point when something changes. For the Messiah, it will be the time when He will be given the kingdom. For the arrogant one, for the antichrist here, it will be when God has given him all the time that he’s going to have.
“Until” is when the Ancient of Days comes “and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High.”
Now God is going to answer the prayers of the saints at the end of the Tribulation, and this is when He will send the Son to establish His Kingdom.
“… and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”
Wow! That’s future! They’re not possessing the kingdom now. That means amillennialism is dead wrong, postmillennialism is dead wrong. All of this “we are in some form of the kingdom now,” “it’s now but not fulfilled” is dead wrong. We are not in any form of the kingdom. Not “already but not yet.”
“The time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” That is when the Messiah will be sent.
Then we get the interpretation, Daniel 7:24, “The 10 horns are 10 kings who shall arise from this kingdom—that 4th kingdom—and another shall rise after them. He shall be different from the first ones and shall subdue three kings.
Daniel 7:25, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time—that’s 3½ years.”
A “time” is one year, “times” is a dual, that’s 2 years. 2+1 is 3; and a half time, that’s 3½ years, so this is talking about the second half of the Tribulation.
Daniel 7:26, “But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away His dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.”
It is in that framework that Daniel 7:13–14 takes place—when the Son of Man comes and the Father gives Him dominion, glory and a kingdom.
Daniel 7:27 repeats that in terms of the interpretation, “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”
Psalm 110 talks about the Messiah ascending and sitting at the right hand “until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Daniel 7 provides for us that picture and the timeframe: this happens at the end of the Tribulation period, what will be revealed in Daniel 9 as that 70th week in Daniel’s timeframe.
At the end of the Tribulation the kingdom is given to the Messiah. Not now, not in this Church Age, but at the end of the Tribulation.
That military victory—the details related to that, are further given to us in Psalm 2. Turn with me to Psalm 2, where we will see the writer of this Psalm depicting for us the coordination of the new King who will establish His kingdom. This portrays for us this coronation event.
I want to give you a few points by way of background and introduction to Psalm 2. This also applies to the psalms. Some will be a little new material: some things for you to think about, some things that help us understand the psalms.
Too often the psalms have been presented as just individual books, as if they exist in isolation from all of the other psalms. This would make it distinct and unique of all of the Scriptures. It is also thought by many in the reformed camp that James is the same way.
James is often said to be like the Proverbs—that all these different sections in James have nothing to do with each other, and that’s garbage. James has a perfect unity, described in James 1:19, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” There’s your outline; everything fits together, and it’s all about perseverance.
The psalms are also that way. The first point that you should remember is that the Psalms were written over a lengthy period of time, but when they were compiled, it was with an order and a purpose.
The oldest is Psalm 90 written by Moses around 1446 to 1406 BC, sometime during the period of the wilderness wanderings.
There are also several psalms that were written after the exile. The term “exile” refers to that 70-year period after Israel is defeated in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar in his third invasion of the land. This time he destroys the temple, destroys Jerusalem, and takes most of the Jews out of the land, back to Babylon in captivity.
He had taken earlier captives back. Daniel and his friends Azariah and Mishael were taken back earlier probably in the 605 BC captivity. We know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, their Babylonian names.
This is 70 years, then after the Babylonian Empire is defeated by the Persians, it is Cyrus who then issues a decree to allow the Jews, along with all other indigenous people and all other ethnic groups to go back to their native homeland. He sends the Jews back in approximately 536 BC, and they come back over a period of years in several different groups.
So you have Zerubbabel bringing back the first group, later you have Ezra bringing back a couple of groups, and finally Nehemiah bringing a group. These weren’t large groups. If you total it all up, within 100 years they only had about 60,000 or 70,000 Jews returned to the land, so it’s a small group.
It took quite a while to rebuild the temple. They started when they first went back, but they got discouraged, and gave up. The postexilic prophets Zechariah and Haggai are written primarily to encourage them to rebuild the temple. Then Malachi comes along later because they’re abusing various aspects of worship, so that’s a corrective book.
This period of time after the return is the period that we refer to as “after the exile.” Ezra, who is a priest, establishes basically a school of the prophets and it is believed, I think accurately so, that it is at that time that the Canon—that is the organization and structure of the Old Testament—is finalized.
At that time the psalms are organized and finalized, and I believe this is all under the leadership, the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. There are lots of technical reasons for this that I’m not going to take the time to go into now.
The psalms were written individually. David wrote psalms; others wrote psalms. They were part of the music ministry, the musical worship of the temple. Following the exile, they were put into this final form that we have now.
Much of what I’m going to comment on in terms of this introduction is just a summary of some of the conclusions because the details are rather extensive and rather technical as well.
This is not anything new. This isn’t something I dreamed up. This isn’t something the 20th or 21st-century scholars dreamed up. Actually, evidence of this goes back to the Septuagint, it goes back to the Talmud at the time, and to traditions that were present at the time of Christ.
The organization of all this had already taken place at the time of Ezra—about 400 to 500 BC, so it comes forward. But the organization is important.
One of the things that I learned just recently is that Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 are connected to one another and should be read together. I will give you a couple of reasons for that. There are about 7 or 8 pairs of psalms that are the same way. They are designed to be put together and to work together where they have a connection between them, and it is indicated by the words that are used in the Hebrew.
In some cases, you’ll have a repetition of the same word; in other cases, you have a use of words that may sound alike. They’re not homophones, but they have the same consonants, maybe they reverse them or something. But they create word plays, so that if you really know your Hebrew and you’re reading it in the Hebrew, you catch these things.
We have the same thing in English. If you go back and read Shakespeare and take your time to really study through the plays or you study through the sonnets of Shakespeare, he uses all kinds of word plays like this to bring people’s attention to certain things that are being said. He uses puns and various forms of words that would have been recognized by his audience.
We’re a little removed from Elizabethan English, so we don’t necessarily catch these word plays and puns and things that are used, so we miss some of that, but his audience has caught these things. Some of them are rather bawdy, some of them are not; some of them are humorous in many different ways. But the Scriptures use this to bring out and emphasize certain points, and we just miss it in translation.
That’s why it’s important to study in the original languages and pick up on some of these things. Thankfully we have a lot of men who are tremendous scholars who get it, because 3 or 4 years of Hebrew in most seminaries isn’t enough to get you here. You have to really learn to embed yourself into the languages.
We lost the idea of the unity of the psalms due to theological liberalism. Trust me, liberalism, whether it’s theological or political, is an assault on truth. It destroys truth because of its presuppositions. It certainly did this in theology, coming out of the Enlightenment putting man at the center of the universe.
You had the rejection of divine authorship, the rejection of Mosaic authorship, the rejection of Davidic authorship, and the ideas that Moses and David never even actually lived. But that was not the ancient view, the view that dominated before and after Christ and through the Middle Ages.
The Septuagint, for example, recognizes that there’s something distinctive about Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, that they are connected to each other. The Psalms are divided into 5 books. All of the other psalms in Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, have a superscript, a title. Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 do not.
If you put a title at the beginning of Psalm 2, it would break up the flow as you read from Psalm 1 into Psalm 2, and you miss some of these linguistic connections between the two. Unfortunately, most of us have been taught that you can just pick up one psalm and read it, and because we don’t know the Hebrew, we miss these connections anyway.
In the psalms, like any other book, you have an introduction and a conclusion. Psalms 1 and 2 form an introduction to the entire Book of Psalms. Psalms 149 and 150 pickup and tie a bow around these themes and conclude the Book of the Psalms.
You have various lines of evidence to show this interconnection and interdependence between Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, which are pretty interesting and fascinating. I’m trying to bring out a couple of things that are just related to our particular study.
One, for example, is that Psalm 1:1 begins with the Hebrew word ‘esher, “Blessed is the man …”
What are we studying in Ephesians? We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. “Blessed is the man …” Who’s the man?
Most of us have read this as “blessed is anyone.” That is not how it was understood originally. This was understood in the Talmud, this was understood by early Jewish commentators as Messianic. This is a contrast between “the Man” who is presented as an ideal man who is shaped completely by the Law versus the ungodly.
We have this framing of Psalm 1 and 2, “Blessed is the man …” When you get to the end of Psalm 2:12, it repeats the word, “… Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” This frames these two psalms. They are talking about the ultimate blessing of the Messianic Ruler.
We also see other words, for example, in Psalm 1:1 it says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners.”
The Hebrew word is derek, so you miss the connection in English. Derek is the word for path or way, but derek occurs again in Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way.”
But “perishing” also connects the two psalms. For example, at the end of Psalm 1:6: “For the Lord knows the way—derek, the path—of the righteous, but the way— derek, the path—of the ungodly—what?—shall perish.”
At the end of Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way.”
These are just some of many, many, little intricate, lexical and phonological hints that these go together.
Another connection comes at the end of Psalm 1:6, “the ungodly.” This is a Hebrew word reshayim, and it sounds like rogshu goyim, which is used for the nations in the first stanza of Psalm 1:1. They sound alike when you’re reading them in Hebrew, and as you finish the first psalm and begin the second psalm, you notice that there’s these two phrases that sound alike, and that’s meant to echo one another.
There are many other intricate details that I’m not going to take the time to go into. One of the technical articles that I read on this is interesting—just to show you that I’m not making this up, I haven’t had some sort of great insight or breakthrough or anything like that. This is a result of lots of different scholars who have done a lot of different work. Allen Ross brings out a lot of the same points.
Another scholar, a retired professor at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, wrote in his paper near the conclusion, he said, “Paul the apostle apparently was reading these two psalms in this manner.”
He’s not saying Paul was reading the psalm when he wrote Ephesians, but this is his understanding of these two psalms from his extensive training as a rabbi.
He “was reading these two psalms in this manner as well when he attributed to believers in Messiah Jesus His privileges of sonship, a seat in heaven, and a worldwide inheritance (Ephesians 1:3, 5, 10, 11, 14, 19–22; and 2:6.)
This is tremendous stuff! I start reading through this, and it just opens up more and more layers of the Scripture that continue to confirm and reconfirm one another in many different ways.
There’s another aspect, I didn’t create a slide on this, that’s also fascinating. There are intentional links between the language of Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8–9. “The man” of Psalm 1:1–3 delights in the Law of the Lord and in His Law he meditates day and night, Psalm 1:2. That language reflects and echoes the language of Joshua 1:8–9, talking about “blessed is the man who meditates on the Law of the Lord.”
This is directed toward whom? Toward Joshua, who was the general. Joshua who is a type of Christ in his military victory over the enemies of God. Joshua only had two glitches in the way he carried out his conquest of the land. He was a man who meditated on the Lord, and as a result of his dependence on the Lord, he had military victory over the enemies of God. There is an intentional connection here between Joshua as a type of the Messiah and the man of Psalm 1 who delights in the Law of the Lord.
There’s also an intricacy in the fact that he states “in the Law of the Lord and in His law.” That second “His” is capitalized in your Bible and probably shouldn’t be, because it’s saying, “in his law”, that it is a law of the man that “he meditates day and night.” God’s Law becomes his law, so that they become interdependent.
The result has something to do with worship, because the language that you see in Psalm 1:3 reflects verbiage that you find in Genesis 1:11, 29. It’s talking about the original paradise and the trees and the water ring that goes on in the original paradise. That same language in multiple words are picked up in Ezekiel 47, which describes the restoration of the temple in the Messianic Kingdom as the restoration of paradise.
This language is only used in these passages. It’s distinctive. When you find distinctive language like that, it connects the dots for you. This isn’t just happenstance. God has a plan and a purpose, and it pulls all these things together.
Psalm 2 is one of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament. It’s cited in a number of places in the Gospels: Matthew 3:17 and the synoptic parallels in Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22. It is cited in Matthew 17:5 and also in the parallels of Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:35. It’s quoted in Acts 4:24–26 and 13:33; then in Hebrews 1:5, 5:5 and Revelation 2:27.
It’s alluded to at least five more times: John 1:49, Hebrews 1:2, Revelation 12:5, 19:15 and 19. That tells us that this is really important.
I mentioned last time that when I took a Christology course in seminary, that the methodology of the course was very good. Tommy Ice and I were sitting up on the front row, and we started off looking at these Old Testament Messianic passages in order to understand that foundation for who Christ the Messiah was going to be.
We spent a lot of time on Psalm 110 and Psalm 2, and ever since then, I’ve just realized there’s some chapters in Scripture that are more significant than others in some ways, and this is one of them.
This passage talks about the future Messiah, and was a view that dominated even Jewish interpretation up until approximately 1000. Even Rashi, who was one of the Jewish rabbis who significantly impacted a shift taking away a lot of Messianic prophecies, understood the background of this psalm in something of a Messianic way.
But he applied it too much to an original historic situation with David, which shifted the focus away from a true Messianic emphasis; that is why there is such a battle and such a problem today.
Psalm 2 destroys amillennialism. I keep bringing this up because this is the dominant view that’s out there, is that we’re in the kingdom. And you go to a lot of different churches, a lot of different Christian communities, and everything’s about doing something for the king and doing something for the kingdom, and it is just terrible theology.
We’re not in a spiritual form of the kingdom, we’re not in an “already not yet” form of the kingdom, and this destroys it. Christ is waiting for the kingdom to be given to Him, and then He will rule.
When we look at the psalm, we’ve got a chiastic structure here. A chiasm is a literary device for how you organize things. I’ve used a red X here with dotted lines on one side. The Greek letter X, which is the first letter in the word XRISTOS, is called the letter CHI. When you use this device, it’s like the letter X, and the left side of it will go in.
I’ve seen extensive chiasms that have 20 different levels, but this is simple. It has the first two points, the third point mirrors the second point, and the fourth section mirrors the first section, so it reflects the left side of the letter CHI, which is why it’s called a chiasm.
- The kings of the earth are rebelling against YHWH and His Messiah. 2:1–3
- The response of YHWH and His Messianic King. 2:4–6
- The relationship of YHWH and His Sonship decree about His Messiah. 2:7–9
- The kings of the earth or warned to submit to the Son of God for blessing. 2:10–12
Let’s quickly go through Psalm 2
Psalm 2:1, “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing” or “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?”
The word translated “uproar” or “rage” is an interesting word in the Hebrew. It’s the word ragash, which has the idea of conspire or plot. It should be translated something like, “Why do the nations conspire” or “Why do the nations rebel?” They are rebelling against God. It is talking about the kings of the nations, and they are plotting against God.
An alternate interpretation in the Holman Christian Standard Bible says. “Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain?” “In vain” means it’s in total futility; they will never accomplish it. There are trying to do the impossible. They are so divorced from reality.
When you reject God and you rebel against Him, you’re living in a fantasy world. Unfortunately, this is the problem with much of the world today. They’ve created a fantasy world and built upon that to where they are so out of touch with reality, you can’t even have a conversation with a lot of different people.
This word ragash used here to describe the plotting, is only used in this passage in the Hebrew Old Testament. However, the Aramaic cognate of this word is used in Daniel 6:6, 11, and15, where it describes the enemies of Daniel as conspiring together against Daniel.
They went to Darius to get him to pass a law that no one could pray to any God, they could only come to him. If they are caught praying to any God or beseeching any other authority other than the king, then they will be thrown into a den of lions. That gives us background for understanding: it is a conspiracy of wicked people.
This psalm begins with the idea that the kings of the world that are united. This is globalism; this is internationalism. This is the opposite of what the left wants to say today is the “evil racism of nationalism.” Well, nationalism was invented by God.
Nationalism came into existence because of the evil of internationalism. It occurs in Genesis 11. All of mankind speaks one language, and they conspire against God under the leadership of a man named Nimrod, and so they decide they’re going to build this tower to the heavens.
They’re trying to establish themselves, and some said they’re trying to build a mountain high enough that if God brings another worldwide flood that they’ll survive it. No matter how high they build it, God’s still going to have to come down from heaven to look at it.
Now the God who comes down from heaven sees what they are doing and says, “This is evil. I’m going to confound their languages.” It’s intentional. By separating them into languages, he is separating them into races, and he is separating them into nations.
Deuteronomy talks about the fact that God set the boundaries of the nations according to their languages. I’m not making this up. In Acts 17 Paul says the same thing. God establishes the boundaries of the nations. To say that you want to do away with borders is an attack on God. You’re playing into the conspiracy of the kings of the earth here in Psalm 2:1.
The reality is that when God confounds the language of the people at the Tower of Babel—which is the whole world—all human beings now have these multiple languages and will divide up into multiple races.
We know that a lot of evil has been committed in the name of nationalism. There have been wars: world wars and tribal battles. Just think through all of history—the massacres, the violence, the loss, the death, the famines— all of the evil that has occurred because nations are fighting against nations.
Don’t you think God knew about that in eternity past? God knew that when He divided the human race into nations that it would result in a lot of horrors. Guess what? God realized that if they stuck together and they had one language under internationalism, it would be worse. It would be more evil; it would be more destructive.
That’s what happens in the Tribulation period under the internationalism, under the globalism of the Antichrist. This is why believers who understand the Bible must stand against the UN. They must stand against these international things like the League of Nations; they must stand against all of these things. Eventually, they’re going to take over.
We live in a world today where so many corporations have become international, they don’t want any wars, and so they have another agenda other than protecting the rights and the resources of the nations. They want globalism. It’s very, very difficult to live in this mess, and you see the news media and so many others promoting internationalism.
That’s what we see: the globalists, the internationalists, the kings of the nations in the Tribulation Period raging and plotting emptiness. It’s vanity. It’s useless; it won’t work. God is going to eventually establish His response, which we will look at next time.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity today to study Your Word, to see prophecies of the Old Testament, to understand how profound they are, how we see, in some senses, foreshadowing of these fulfillments in our world today. The prophecies will not be fulfilled until the Tribulation period in the end, but we see how the stage is being set today.
“Father, there’s a desperate need for us to fulfill our priestly function to be priests, to be witnesses, to carry out our responsibilities as prayer warriors, praying for one another, praying for the nation, praying for missionaries, praying for pastors and churches teaching the truth of Your Word. Interceding is part of our priestly ministry. This is part of our Lord’s priestly ministry as He sits at Your right hand even now.
“Father, we pray that as we study these things that it would open the eyes of many to recognize the need of a Savior, the need to recognize that there is only one basis for real stability and hope.
“That the nations are constantly conspiring against You, and bringing chaos and all manner of misery upon the human race, and the only solution is Jesus Christ. The only solution is Your Word that brings true peace, and we will not see true peace until Christ, the Prince of Peace, returns to establish His kingdom.
“Father, for those who may never have trusted in Christ as Savior, may they understand that it’s not about what they’ve done, it’s about what Christ did. It’s not about their sin, it’s about Christ’s payment for their sin. It is about trusting in Jesus, believing He died for them, and that by believing in Him, they have everlasting life. Make this clear to those who need to understand the gospel.
“Father we pray that You would make the rest of us understand more fully our responsibility even now as those who are seated in Christ in the heavenlies, and we pray this in His name, amen.”