Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? Part 1: The war against God
The title is Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The subheading for the first part is the War against God from the beginning. The second part is the War against His Anointed and the final part is titled the War against God’s people. The Anointed is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, The Messiah, God with Us, the Saviour, the Lamb of God.
This article is in three parts. I initially wrote this in June 2016 based on Psalm 2:
"1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."
Today, everything in our society is in collision course with God, His Son Jesus, the Bible and the people of God. A war has been declared that has been raging through the ages from the beginning of time. Everything around us is telling us that we are living in the end times. How latter or late, as mentioned in Daniel, we don’t know but the signs are there. Laws have been implemented that will directly go against God’s Word.
This war I speak of is Satan’s war against God which started in the heavens. Through his rebellion, the third of the angels willingly sided with him, and the result was that he was booted out of God’s presence. Jesus said of this incident in Luke 10:18 “And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.
You recall in Isaiah how the prophet through the Holy Spirit gave us a glimpse of what happened in the heavens when Satan rebelled. Isaiah 12: 12-14 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
The five I will.
Imagine this, the angel You created telling You that I’m going to be like You and in being like You, I will be worshipped. Notice he said I will be like the Most High. Not that I will be the Most High but I will be like the Most High. He knows and is aware that he can never be God.
Throughout the bible and history, we see this rebellious and warring spirit against God being manifested through people, politics, kingdoms and governments. In the old Testament we see this hatred is towards Israel and God’s mouthpieces, the prophets – because God had chosen them. Anything or anyone that God chooses always creates a rage, hatred and opposition. The world and everything in it is in opposition to God – because the world is controlled by the prince of air.
Like today, these nations hated Israel and pursuing them with passion that is difficult to explain rationally. The hatred towards Israel, like so many events in history and in the Old Testament, are the shadow of things to come. These countries, through their governments and kings, denied God and chose to come against Him. We see in the story of Rahab that the surrounding countries were aware of God’s deliverance that took place in Egypt. The story of Exodus was a big story; nations became aware of Israel’s existence through the awesome demonstration of God’s power. Remember what Rahab said to the two Jewish spies. Joshua 2:9-11 “And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”
Though they were afraid of Israel, nevertheless they pursued that hatred - just as Satan’s rebellion that he could takeover God’s realm prove to be futile. When God struck Egypt with the deadly plagues, He was demonstrating His Sovereign power and rule over the gods/images that the Egyptians were worshipping. There are historical facts relating to these plagues being representative of Egypt’s variety of nature gods and there are many archaeologists and biblical scholars who name each of these plagues as being representative of Egypt’s gods, but let’s hear what the Lord says about one of these plagues and the association to one of their gods: Exodus12:12 "I will pass through the land of Egypt in the same night, and I will attack all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both of humans and of animals, and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord”.
Israel was the only nation that believed in one God and that is why repeatedly God told Israel not to intermarry with these pagans’ daughters and sons. They were told to be separated, set apart because none of these kingdoms worshipped the one true God. And that’s what God expects of us, as His people we are to be “set apart” from this world. We are of the light and they are of darkness. Just as God was recognised as the One True God so His people were to be recognised as peculiar, special people, a nation set apart.
One of the many nations that persisted to war against Israel were the Philistines. This nation time and time again aroused God’s anger. Every time I read or hear the name Philistines, I think of young David’s courageous and bold words when he said in 1 Samuel 17:26 “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Circumcision was the Old Testament Law signifying Israel’s covenant with God and it was an outward sign of being set apart to God. So, David was in fact saying to Goliath and the Philistines that you have no relationship / no covenant with God. So, in opposing Israel, they were opposing His people, the armies of the Living God.
In one of these wars the Philistines captured the ark of God which represents the presence of God.
Turn to I Samuel 5: 1 – 12 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. 6 the hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and He terrified and afflicted them with tumours, both Ashdod and its territory. 7 And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” 8 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. 9 But after they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumours broke out on them. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But as soon as the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people.” 11 they sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 The men who did not die were struck with tumours, and the cry of the city went up to heaven."
Every time I read this story, I laugh out loud. They persisted against common sense to continue to worship this vile figure that is half man and half fish which they have made with their own hand. They said “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” They endured seven months of punishment in the form of tumours and death. Imagine, if you can, the absurdity of their predicament. You will think these Philistines will bow, like their statue, in sackcloth and ashes cry out day and night for forgiveness. They did not. Their image also had prior experience of the I AM that I AM. Their god and the people were crushed by the One True God when Samson stood between the two pillars, and brought the house down and everything else with it.
The Philistines’ creation of these images was nothing new. If you read the Old Testament and specially the Book of Kings, you will see that Israel and its leaders continuously angered God by idolatry and the disgusting practices of their rituals. One of my favourite prophetic book is Isaiah. The language is both beautiful and profound and full of poetry. And I also love the way God communicates His Sovereign rule through the creation of the universe and I love the sarcasm that comes from reading the various verses that deals with the stupidity of man worshipping their own creation.
You’ll see how God is mocking and sarcastically challenging them, addressing them and their idols in Isaiah 40: 18-26 "To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? 19 The workman molds an image, The goldsmith overspreads it with gold, And the silversmith casts silver chains. 20 Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution Chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks for himself a skillful workman To prepare a carved image that will not totter. 21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. 24 Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. 25 "To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?" says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing."
I believe that there are people that deliberately set themselves against God. How futile. They know that it is futile, and they know that they are on the losing side, but they persist. It is very hard to understand how people can precede with such calamity. The Philistines, Egyptians, Amalekites, Hittites including the Israelites and many like them knew God and His Awesome wonders but chose to serve these craven images that can neither speak, move or hear. Just as Satan, who was one of the Archangel of God chose to defy and rebel. How can one understand such a thing? It’s absurd to think that you can overcome your Creator. And this absurdity is examined more in Isaiah 41:21-23 “Present your case [for idols made by men’s hands],” says the Lord. “Produce your evidence [of divinity],” Says the king of Jacob. Let them bring forward [their evidence] and tell us what is going to happen. Regarding the former events, tell what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome; Or announce to us the things that are going to come. Tell us the things that are to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, you should do something good or do evil, that we may be afraid and fear [you] together [as we observe the miracle].”
This rage and plotting by the kings of the earth and rulers is the result of those who have declared that they need no God, neither do they desire to have one—except the one of their own likes and choosing! This God of the Bible is not the one they want, so they have worked diligently to break those bands asunder and obliterate any references, connections or ties to anything that suggests that whatever they might do is sinful, and there is no doubt, that their arrogance and blatant opposition to God, extends to His Word and His people.
Do you recall the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? How on Mount Carmel Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah (known as the queen of heaven) who ate at Jezebel’s table. The challenge was to demonstrate who was a greater god. We are all familiar with the story and as you know they cried to Baal and did all manner of things to get a response like jumping up and down, crying out and finally cutting themselves. But nothing happened. Zero. Zilch. And like Isaiah, Elijah mocked them in I Kings 18: 27 “mocked them, and said, cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”
Even though the One True God reign supreme in this simple challenge, Jezebel, instead of turning to God, threatened Elijah and continued with her idolatry. What does that tell you? How many times has God proved His Supremacy to men? Yet, men refused to bow to Him. Men without God is terribly wicked, rebellious and lawless. It is this nature, the flesh, that is in constant opposition.“17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:17.
This nature was birthed in man in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. So, that nature, the flesh, became offspring of the devil. This what said of this nature: John 8:42-44 “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it”.
The characteristics of the enemy are spiritual wickedness, the lusts of eyes, corrupt reasonings, pride and envy, wrath and malice, enmity to good, and enticing others to do evil because that is who he is. Where good is evil and evil is good (Isaiah 5:20). So, it is not surprising what has happened over the centuries and how man, controlled by this nature/flesh, raised their fists at God.
Another example of man’s stupidity to oppose and insult God is in the account of Sennacherib. In 2 Kings 18 and 19 we learned that the Assyrians were threatening and raging against Israel and sending blaspheming words to Hezekiah, King of Judah. The Assyrian leader Sennacherib, a type of the enemy, was shaking his fist and raising his voice against God. Saying in 2 Kings 18: 29 “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” 33......2 Kings 19: 1 “so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord."........2 Kings 19: 15-16 “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.”
The result of Sennacherib’s words was that an Angel of the Lord struck 185,000 Assyrians in one night. The interesting and bizarre thing is that although Sennacherib knew what happened, he showed no fear or dread or remorse and instead he went away to Nineveh and when to his pagan temple to worship his idol and was struck by his two sons.
Do you see how this war against God is orchestrated not out of ignorance but wilful and deliberate acts by man against God instigated by the father of lies just like the Tower of Babel, the first orchestrated rebellion. People choose to serve and obey this diabolical system.
All these things I have mentioned, and the way man are towards God have their origins and beginnings in the war in the heavenliness when Satan rebelled and at the Garden of Eden where he deceived the Eve in disobeying God.
It was very rare for kings/leaders to acknowledge God when He demonstrated His Power, but Nebuchadnezzar was one of these leaders who recognised that supreme power belongs to God: Daniel 3:28 "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king's command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God.”
Why did God not just create beings that will have no option but to serve Him? Because our God is not interested in robots. He has no pleasure in such things. He wants man and angels that He created to choose Him. Free will is God’s love for us. He could easily have taken free will away from His Creation but chose not to. God doesn’t want robots or for us to come to Him out of fear. When you love someone, you become theirs. So, God is mine and I am His through His Son. That’s why I can call Him Abba Father, because it is personal. It is a relationship. You can’t have relationship with a robot, there is no fellowship, no intimacy.
So, the war against God and His Anointed will increase as we draw near to His coming. People, nations and governments will become brazen in their hatred for God because the day of reckoning is coming.
The last two hundred years has shown that the brazenness of man’s rebellion will continue and become greater. Since the times of world empires, we have seen in kings, rulers and emperors that are shadows of the one to come, the Antichrist, but “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming”.
The 19th and the 20th Century saw the development of many new philosophies that birthed new ideologies that many labelled as geniuses but in fact it became the decline of religious behaviour and of morals. The world views these men as geniuses, intellectuals and of theoretical learning, man like Karl Max, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and many others. I mention these three because they’ve had the greatest influence on the philosophy of mankind. Karl Max created the ideology that we can be gods and in this we create a fairer and just society through socialism, which is basically communism. He also declared that “I will Kill God” referring to his countless philosophies of life as he sees it. Nietzsche said, amount many other things, that “God is dead”. He theorized and developed the idea that there are those who are “superman” and the masses are there to serve them. He even called himself the “Anti-Christ” and wrote a book of that name. Nietzsche was a forerunner for the Nazi ideology and the many that have followed and still follow this ideology believe that there are people that are superior to others.
Unfortunately, their theorizing hasn’t died with them, you only need to see the walls of university students to understand how these ideologies has been romanticized, specially Karl Marx.
One of the characterises of the war against God is manifested in these philosophies that we can be like god, that we make our gods whether it is an ideology or a creation of an image. You will recall in the Old Testament that the nations surrounding Israel were pagan worshippers and unfortunately during the Judges and the Kings era of Israel, except David and one or two judges or kings, Israel continually became like these nations and it always started with the leaders and then the masses following them. In the Exodus account the Israelites asked Aaron to create a calf of the gold they took with them from Egypt. It’s really shocking to read that after God’s miracle in the Exodus of His people, that was demonstrated visually in awesome power and might, they made an image and attributed this Exodus to the golden calf. How could Aaron, who was a mouthpiece for Moses and who saw all the wonders that God did, allow this incident to take place?
Our God “who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure.” We are living in the days of Grace because of God’s desire to save mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. Today a man may be a blasphemer of God, an atheist, can denounce God and teach bad doctrine. Seemingly God does nothing about it. But a day is coming, The Day of the Lord and who will endure it?
“But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap"
“Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand:
2 A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds and thick darkness”