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Psalm 2

 

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 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. (ESV)

Kill the Messenger

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor 

7 October 2014

When Elijah spoke for God to Ahab the King of Samaria, Ahab addressed him: "Is it you, you troubler of Israel" (1Ki 18:17)? Elijah was just calling the northern tribes to reject the Baals and return to the Lord who had spoken to His people from Sinai. Those who tell the truth are often blamed for the truth to which they bear witness. Eastern potentates would often kill the unfortunate messenger that brought portentous or disastrous news. In the Greek tragedy Antigone, the messenger who, against his will, reports to King Creon that Antigone has given burial rites to her brother, Polynices, says "No man loves the messenger of ill" (Sophocles, Antigone, 311), which is a form of our adage "Don't kill the messenger." Nothing much has changed.

 

We Christians often approach our culture and the people who are imprisoned by it with a message of the decadence and impiety of our way of life. Such a message is condemned as unkind, unhelpful, and even seditious. To be honest, none of us is pleased by a report of bad news. It is so easy to blame the messenger, because it keeps us from assessing our well-established prejudices. The Christian faith often comes upsetting the apple cart of our cheap and easy "truths;" challenging us to confess our own sin and to accept the exclusive claims of the divine lordship of Christ. It tells us to abandon all that we hold dear and to cast ourselves upon the resources of someone other than ourselves. It pleads with us to reject self-justification and trust Christ and His righteousness alone for salvation. It requires that we give up trust of institutions and men to repose quietly in His arms for all comfort and consolation. It is no wonder that the Christian Gospel is reviled everywhere, even and sometimes most viciously within those institutions that make claim to the name of "church," by men who want to reduce the church to their possession.

 

Those who protest against this manipulation of the truth are considered the troublemakers and are often labeled as unforgiving because they will not countenance the perversion of the truth of Christ. Yet, God does not call us to be popular but to witness to the divine truth. If that is not what the mission of the church and her children is, what would that mission be? We must witness that Christ alone is the Lord of the church to the denigration of all human institutions. We must not give up the defense of the truth, even if we must die in its defense. If we will witness to Him, confessing Him faithfully in the world, He then will confess us before His Father in heaven. The rogues who would hijack the name "church" for their own pet doctrines or worldly manipulation will never thank us when we call them to account or insist the church is not their personal pleasure park, but the Lord's own bride. Such men hate to be called to account for their malfeasance, and will kill the messenger. Christ then will be all in all.

 

Martin Luther

"The doctrine of grace and peace does not stir up disturbances, but it is the nations, peoples, kings, and rulers, as Psalm 2 says, who conspire, plot, set themselves, and take counsel, not against us, as they suppose, or against our doctrine, which they accuse of being wrong and seditious, but 'against the Lord and against His Christ' (Ps 2:2). Therefore all their counsels and efforts are and will be useless. 'He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision' (Ps 2:4). Therefore, let them shout as long as they want that these troubles have been stirred up by us. Nevertheless, the psalm consoles us and says that they are the source of these troubles. They themselves do not believe this; much less do they believe that they are raising a tumult, plotting, and taking counsel against the Lord and against His Christ. Instead they think they are taking a stand for the Lord and are defending His glory, and that by persecuting us they are performing a service for God (Jn 16:2). But the psalm does not lie, and the end of the affair will prove this. We are not doing anything here. We only suffer, while our conscience bears witness to us in the Holy Spirit. After all, the doctrine on account of which such tumults and offenses are being stirred up is not ours; it is Christ's. We cannot deny the doctrine or forsake its defense; for Christ says: 'Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed' (Mk 8:38).

 

"Therefore anyone who wants to proclaim Christ and to confess Him to be our righteousness will immediately be forced to hear that he is a 'plague' (Acts 24:5) who is disturbing everything."

 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.29
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, protect those who proclaim Your Word. Enable them to speak of Your grace no matter how viciously they are attacked. Shape them like the cross, that they might face whatever martyrdom You choose for them. Restrain our enemies and protect Your church in accordance with Your abundant promises. Amen.

 

For Rafael Abreu, who is gravely ill, that the Lord Jesus would send the holy angels to surround his sickbed

 

For Donna Linkie, who is undergoing cancer therapy, that the Lord would strengthen her and grant her healing

 

For the convention of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines, that the delegates might be endowed with wisdom so that the church would be blessed by their deliberations

Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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