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  • Writer's picturePaul Coulter

When the nations rage

The nations are raging. I'm sure, like me, you've been distressed to see on your TV or mobile screen the scenes of conflict from Ukraine.

Where else can we look at a time like this but to God and His Word?

Three times in the Bible we read the phrase "the nations rage".

  1. The first is probably the most famous, in Psalm 2:1. There the immediate horizon is the rebellion of the smaller nations like Edom against the king in David's line (the Lord's Anointed in verse 2). But the long view is towards Jesus. This psalm is quoted several times in the New Testament (Acts 4:25-26; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5 ; 5:5; Revelation 2:26, 27; 12:5; 19:15). Jesus is the ultimate king in David's line - the Anointed one (Messiah or Christ) who was rejected by his own nation and put to death by the Gentiles. He is the begotten Son of God, who reigns over all. We can say to the nations: "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him" (Psalm 2:12). This is our hope in times of trouble and the message we declare.

  2. The second mention of the raging nations is also in the Psalms. Psalm 46 picks up the theme of God as our place of security with the famous opening words: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." It envisages Zion as a safe city because God is in its midst even though the nations rage (verse 6) and it foresees the time when God will cause all wars across the earth to cease (verse 9). Against this truth, the psalm calls us to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (verse 10).

  3. The third and final time we read of the nations raging, is in Revelation 11:17-18, which records the declaration of the 24 elders around God's throne in response to loud voices in heaven that announce that "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever" (verse 15). Their statement is one of thanksgiving:

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,

who is and who was,

for you have taken your great power

and begun to reign.

The nations raged,

but your wrath came,

and the time for the dead to be judged,

and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,

and those who fear your name,

both small and great,

and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.

Here is the fulfilment of what the psalms anticipated. God's judgement has come. No more raging nations. Deliverance and reward for God's people. Destruction of those who have destroyed the earth. Sadly, the time to kiss the Son has passed.

So, as the nations rage there will be much we cannot understand, but we can trust securely in these three truths:

  • God's king, Jesus, is on His throne and we are called to "kiss" him - acknowledging Him as Lord and trusting in Him to save.

  • For those who know Jesus as Lord, there is security amidst the raging because God is with us and among us, so we can be still and know that He is God.

  • The day is coming when God's just judgement will come and those who bring destruction will be destroyed while God's people will be rewarded.

The nations rage, but your heart need not because God is our refuge.

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