Your Presidential Candidate Isn't the Messiah

Did you know it was election season? I jest, after all, how could you not? Every time you flip on the news you hear some talking head babbling about some presidential candidate. You scroll through Facebook and find one "friend" after another spewing their adoration for their favorite candidate. The buzz of election year creates hope within the heart of every American; the glamorous pageant of democracy sparkles with messianic colors. 21-2016ers1

Every presidential election cycle dominates the cultural conversation, particularly our current cycle. After all, so much of our nations future depends on the man or woman who sits in the oval office. The president of the United States wields incredible authority and influence. In many ways, politics has become the new American religion. David Gelertner recently wrote in an article entitled What Explains the Vicious Left? that "For most conservatives, politics is just politics. For most liberals, politics is their faith, in default of any other; it is the basis of their moral life." He describes how for many on the left, committed to secularism, politics has replaced the basis of their faith. Therefore, they defend their political position with religious zeal. I think he is on to something, but I would suggest that politics has become a religion not only for liberals, but for conservatives as well—including evangelicals.

As you listen to political commentators on both sides and as you watch the cut-throat political commentary on social media, people tend to think of their candidate with Messianic implications. Whether its Cruz or Trump, Bernie or Hillary, the fiery zeal of their supporters promote these politicians with Messianic expectations. Each side hopes that their candidate will usher in a new era of our country, accomplishing their idealistic vision for the country. As secularism increases, politics has filled the spiritual vacuum. If we are not careful, Christians can get swept away with the political enthusiasm and find ourselves inadvertently looking to the wrong Messiah.

No matter where you land on the political spectrum, every presidential candidate will disappoint, whether you are a Regan conservative or a democratic socialist. Both the conservative and liberal ideologue will find themselves disappointed, even if there candidate wins. There is only one messiah and his name is Jesus. Only the preminant creator, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation can reconcile all things, making peace by the blood of the cross (See Col 1:15-19). Our hope rests on the arrival of the coming of the kingdom of God, not in the prosperity of the kingdom of America. Let us not confuse the two.

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So should Christians just avoid politics, stick our heads in the sand, and ignore the incredible issues that plague our nation? No, not at all. As sojourners in Babylon we should "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile" (Jer 29:7). We should work in the realm of politics, debate in civility concerning the future of our great nation, and cast our votes for presidential candidates. Yet, as we do, we must make very clear to the lost and dying work that our messiah is not a presidential candidate, but a Jewish man from Nazareth—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praying the Psalms: Psalm 2

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.

“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:32–33, ESV)

We are hard wired for a King. God has designed us is to long for a good and just ruler to bring victory. Although it is hard to recognize in a democratic society, there is still great evidence that human beings naturally long for a King. Consider our love for celebrities, our passionate cheering for our sports teams, or the messianic anticipation we put on political leaders to bring justice and change. Each reveal that within the deep recesses of the human heart we long to rejoice in the fame of the victory of a King who brings true justice and change.

Psalm 2 is what is classified as a royal Psalm. It is a psalm about the royal line of Israel and the celebration of God’s blessing on the line of David. This psalm might have been used at the coronation of a King of Judah. However, as we look at Psalm 2 through the revelation of Jesus Christ, we see how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God has made both to Abraham and to David. Jesus is the begotten of God who rules and reigns over the earth.

Commentary

v. 1–3. The world naturally revolts against the Lord’s anointed. God’s kingdom is continually being questioned and attacked by the nations. The starting question here is one that is always on the minds of God’s people. “Why do the nation rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Why does the world resist the reign and rule of God’s chosen king? As we look at the world all around us the world seems to be conspiring against God. Their sinful prideful hearts refuse to be ruled by another. The wicked want the autonomy that comes with independence. They refuse to submit to the true King. As a result, they conspire together against the anointed one of the Lord. Like wild horses they refuse to submit to the will of the rider.

The Christian must never forget that this world is in rebellion against God. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and there is great need for a righteous King. The struggle throughout the whole bible has been between the offspring of God and the offspring of the serpent. Since sins entrance into the world there has only been two sides to take – the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. There is no third way. As the nations continue to rage against one another they also rage against God. In violence, deceit, oppression, and murder they force their own way while rejecting the rule of the anointed of God.

v. 4–5. The second stanza is a foil of the previous one. While the nations are raging below, God above is laughing. Their efforts of rebellion are laughable to him. It is a war they cannot win. For God is God over the universe. He holds the nations like a drop in the bucket. Even the mightiest of empires and the vilest violence of earthly kings are but a bucket of water to kick over. The people’s plotting is no threat to God. Rather, He sits above and speaks to them in anger. God’s just wrath comes out for his mouth, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

God’s solution to the raging of the peoples of the earth is to set a King above them. However this isn’t just any King. God is going to place this king as ruler over ever kingdom of the earth. God is going to squash the rebellion of humanity.

This is important for us to remember as we see the wicked revolting in the world this very day. Justice will be had. God’s wrath will be poured out. Justice will come by his mighty right hand through the anointed of the Lord. No matter how dark it might get in our age, the Lord will come to execute justice – justice administered by this king.

v. 7–9. In this stanza the anointed king of God opens his mouth. He speaks of the divine decree of God, a decree which is fixed by His will. “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The Davidic King is established by God himself. He is the son of God, and begotten by Him. 2 Sam 7:14 tells us that God is going take the son of David as His own son. The promise God makes to the Davidic dynasty is fixed by the decree of God.

As we look through the lens of the New Testament, we see clearly how this son of David is the son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God made to the line of David and Jesus is the true son. As a result, he receives all the privileges outlined in this royal Psalm. He will receive the nations as his inheritance. He will own the ends of the earth as his possession. He is the one filled with the power of God to shatter his enemies like a steel rod against a clay pot. This son of God will rule over everything. All the earth will be under his reign and rule. Those who rebel and reject his reign, he will destroy.

v. 10–12. The last stanza turns back our attention to the nations raging and their kings. The psalmist gives them some counsel in light of God’s rule through His son. They are told to be wise and be warned. The conspiring nations are up against a force they do not realize. For as they conspire against the Lord’s anointed, they conspire against the Lord himself. The nations are called to serve and fear the Lord. The nations of the earth are called to recognize the anointed of the Lord as Lord over all. They are urged to kiss the son as a sign of their submission to him and their loyalty. If they do no recognize the rule of the King then his anger and wrath will destroy them. Yet, for those who recognize his divine authority and love him, they will be blessed as they take refuge in the true King. Our eternity is decided by our relationship to the King. If it is one of rebellion it will be our eternal ruin. If it is one of love and fear, then it will be for our eternal blessing.

Gospel Application. As we think about Psalm 2, it is easy to see Jesus as the fulfillment. In fact the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this Psalm and it is even quoted directly in the opening of Hebrews (Heb 1:5) and referred to later on in the book describing him as the appointed Kingly high priest of God in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5). It is also referenced by Paul in Antioch seeing Jesus as the direct fulfillment of Psalm 2 (Acts 13:33). For Paul, just as Psalm 2 was probably sung at the coronation of a new King, Jesus coronation was at his resurrection. He has ascended to his throne and reigns and rules even now.

Jesus is the king over all. He is coming again with all divine authority to bring about his kingdom in total. As we wait for the full arrival of the kingdom of God, we do so knowing that the raging and plotting of the wicked is futile. Yes, the kingdom of darkness might have moments of brief victory, but their destruction is fixed. The wicked may win a skirmish here or there, but the war is lost. Every human being must decide, “Will I live in the blessedness and forgiveness of the King or will I resist, rebel, and be crushed by Him?” Those who take refuge in Jesus will be blessed, because he is the shelter from the wrath of God as he takes it on himself on the cross. By the blood of Jesus he provides not only victory but peace for those who trust Him and live under his benevolent rule.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray longing for the Kingdom of God to come. Pray in anticipation longing for Jesus’ return. Pray that God’s “kingdom would come and his will be done”.
  • Thank God in your prayers that as a just God he will not allow the wicked to go unpunished.
  • Praise God for sending the King that our broken world needs.Thank God for Jesus the King that both brings the Father Glory and you refuge.
  • Ask God to help you serve Jesus with both fear and joy.
  • Confess areas of your life that you struggle to submit to Jesus. What areas is he not Lord over? Take some time in your prayers to “Kiss the son”, showing both love and devotion to him.

Haggai Sermon Series Archive

In case your interested all my sermon audio from Forest Hills Baptist Church can be found on our website.  However in this blog post is a quick archive for my four week sermon series through Haggai.  I really enjoyed teaching through this series.  It is a labor of love for my church and it is a joy to serve them through proclaiming the word of God.  I pray these sermons may encourage you in your walk with Christ and encourage you to prioritize the Kingdom of God in your own life. Haggai Part 1: Prioritizing the Kingdom of God - Haggai 1:1-11

Haggai Part 2: The Obstacle of Discouragement - Haggai 2:1-9

Haggai Part 3: Blessings for the Defiled - Haggai 2:10-19

Haggai Part 4: Every Kingdom Needs a King - Haggai 2:20-23

At Forest Hills we are working on getting sermon video up online on a regular basis.  However, we were able to get one sermon from this series uploaded on video.

https://vimeo.com/73145412

 

Christians and Politics

It is a political year.  The presidential campaign is afoot, signs for politicians are every where, and everyone normally silent on issues has an opinion.  As I have served and ministered at churches in the Bible belt, I have noticed a disturbing trend.  Many Christians are stirred more by nationalism for our country than our passion for the kingship of Jesus.  In fact many pastors have identified that congregations are moved by the “bring back a Christian America” agenda and have customized their preaching to give the people what they want to hear.  There seems to be an over emphasis on politics and an underemphasis on evangelism.  In fact, many of us get more excited about defending conservative values in our country than faithfully proclaiming the Gospel to our friends and coworkers. In my experience, people learn very little from the content of what you are teaching, but learn a great deal from what you get excited about.  In other words, if our greatest and highest passion is the Gospel, our people will begin to adopt that same passion.  If our greatest concern and passion is an American theocracy, then our people will get passionate about the same thing.

As a result, in order to promote our dreams for Christian politics, we are tempted to create straw men of the opposition.  We create charactertures of secular philosophy that we can easily topple over in order to prove the Christian faith superior.  However, handling opposing views in this way leads to two opposite reactions among our people.

  1. An ignorant religious zeal develops that further entrenches minds in their ritualistic and tribal prison.
  2. It frustrates budding free thinkers and anti-authority individuals who desire an honest conversation with theology and culture. It isolates those who don’t fit the mold and creates enemies of faith and the church.

We must preach the truth boldly, but in such a way that engages those who think differently.  We want to teach the truth in a way that does not drive them away because of our delivery.  We want the truth of the Gospel to be controversial not the messenger.  We want our church members to think carefully and thoughtfully about the issues, not blindly follow the beliefs of people around them.  We are far too lazy thinkers.  Indeed, many of us develop our beliefs on the opinions of the masses rather than carefully examining the evidence to discern the truth.

Teaching how terrible America is and how hopeless we are leads us to desperation.  “The sky is falling” sermons give people a sense of hopelessness unless it is finished with the glorious eschatological reign of the good king, Jesus Christ.  Bad governments and immoral times ought to stir a longing within our hearts for the second advent and the monarchy of Christ.  Our highest loyalty is not to the United States of America, but to the Kingdom of God.  Our hope is not in America being restored to a Christian nation, but in Christ’s second coming.  Then all that is wrong with this world will be set right by the sovereign glorious hand of King Jesus.