May 31, 2016

When the Guardrails Come Down

I read Psalm 2 recently, and it struck me how much it sounds as though it could have been written in the United States, some time in the last year or so. Just notice the first three verses:

“Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
‘Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!’”

Doesn’t that sound like what we have been reading about, and hearing in the news, in recent months? From the common folks, right on up to the rulers, what we have in this nation is a meeting of the various minds, and a conferring as to which of God’s laws we can cast aside next. The common man wants this breaking of God’s yoke. State, local, and federal authorities are often in agreement. And the money and power brokers of our culture are forcing the hands of the government officials whose feet aren’t quite so quick to spread the revolution. And so the nation is “in an uproar.” The peoples are “devising a vain thing.” And the rulers are “tak[ing] counsel together” as to how to make it all law.

And all of it is against, not only good morality and historic precedent and often just plain good sense … but these things are being devised, even more seriously, “against the LORD and against His Anointed.” And so it is all utter folly. And self-destruction. Because what does the psalmist say in vv.4-5?

“He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury …”

God is not in heaven, with His head spinning, His hands wringing, and His finger on the panic button. He laughs at those people who think they can overthrow His moral law with the stroke of a legislative pen, or with the power of the media and the cultural establishment. Picture the smile on an NBA player’s face when he is challenged to a game of one-on-one by a gangly high school sophomore. God laughs at us small-timers when we think we have cast off His yoke. And we are foolish if we do not realize it. “He will speak to [us] in His anger."

And not only is our nation taking counsel against the Lord foolish because God can crush us like so many ants in His garden, but because the yoke which our culture is so quick to throw off is an easy yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). Or, as the apostle John put it, “His commandments are not burdensome.” They are actually good for us (and even for non-believers who live in a culture that accepts them as the moral norm) … like the guardrails that keep wayward cars from veering into oncoming traffic.

When I was in college, I remember driving home one Friday afternoon and seeing an old beat-up truck, barreling down the left-hand lane of interstate 65 and, perhaps in a moment of dozing, sideswiping the concrete barrier that lay between the north and south-bound lanes. Sparks flew. And the driver bounced off the barrier, kept control, and kept driving (the blessing of already having a beat-up truck, I suppose). But what would have happened if the barrier had not been there? Both that man, and perhaps a few other people, would have been dead in the melee.

This is what is happening in our culture. The guardrails have been coming down for some time now. And it’s no surprise we have the drug addiction, the fatherless children, the abandoned elderly, and so on with which our government is constantly trying to keep up. And yet the same government (which is, of course, “of the people” – so that we are responsible, too) keeps tearing the guardrails even further down to the ground. Indeed, the barriers are nearly all the way gone. And so life in this country will only become more debauched. And the have-nots and the ne’er-do-wells and the abused will become even worse off than they are now. And the sword that hangs over our national head is only getting sharper and sharper.

And what is the solution, according to Psalm 2? Not that the godly people murmur, or go into hiding. And not that we simply rely on the political system to try and enact better laws (though that is necessary). But that those in the system (which includes “we the people”) “take warning” (v.10), and tremble before the Lord (v.11), and “kiss the Son” (v.12, KJV).

In essence, the solution for a culture that has thrown off God’s yoke is good old fashioned repentance (vv.10-11) and faith in Jesus Christ (v.12)! What our culture needs is the gospel – which proclaims God’s judgment upon sinners, and his mercy upon those who will kiss His Son, and entrust themselves to Him in faith!

And so will you go forth, bearing this good seed in the spheres of your influence? And will you pray for those who have access to the nation’s power brokers – that someone will have the courage of the preachers of old, and will call these men and women to account before a holy God, no matter how much the culture may deride them for doing so? Pray that God would raise up a series of John the Baptists, to preach truth to all the Herods in Washington, and a whole host of John’s, also, in the Columbuses, Frankforts, and city halls of our land – proclaiming God’s righteous judgment, and issuing the invitation to kiss God’s Son, to the “nations … peoples … kings … rulers” who “take counsel together against the LORD.” And would you be something of a John the Baptist in your own sphere … having the courage to sound the alarm, and offer the Son, to your neighbors and family who are veering over the center line in a culture with no guardrails?

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