A Coming Reign
The passage in Psalm 2 indicates a third reason that God is laughing. God explains it by saying, “As for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion My holy mountain” (Psalm 2:6).
The wording here is very interesting. God speaks of a future event — the Millennial reign of Jesus — as if it were an accomplished historical fact. This strange manner of speaking of the future as if it were past is a very common feature of Bible prophecy — so common, in fact, that theologians have coined a word for it. They call it “proleptic” speech.
Such speech is particularly characteristic of God in the Scriptures. The reason is that God is not in time as we are. We are on a timeline. We have a past, a present, and a future. God is outside of time. If He wills something, it is accomplished, whether or not it has yet happened in history as we know it.
Take, for example, the crucifixion of Jesus. We think of it as happening 2,000 years ago on the outskirts of Jerusalem — and it did, as we perceive time. But when did the crucifixion take place as God sees time? The Bible says that Jesus was slain “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) because that is when God willed it.
The proleptic principle is best expressed by God Himself in 2 Kings 19:25 — “Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass.”
But let’s get back to our point. The point is that God sits in the heavens and laughs at the rebellious kingdoms of the earth because He has ordained that one day soon His Son will return as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) to reign over all the earth and bring it into submission to God’s perfect will (Isaiah 9:6-7).
An Unfulfilled Promise
How do we know this is a proleptic statement — that although it is stated in the past tense, it is a promise yet to be fulfilled? The answer is obvious — namely, there is no fulfillment in history. Does Jesus reign today as King of kings from Mount Zion in Jerusalem? Has He ever?
There are those who argue that He is spiritually reigning over the nations of the earth. If so, then He is doing a very poor job, for the earth is dominated by evil rebellion against God.
When you consider what the Bible says will be the characteristics of the Lord’s reign over the earth, it is easy to see that the reign is yet future. Isaiah 11 says the reign will be characterized by righteousness, fairness, and faithfulness. Are these the characteristics of national governments today? In that same chapter, Isaiah says, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). How could anyone argue that such a prophecy has been fulfilled? The promise of God in Psalm 2 that His Son will one day rule over all the earth is yet future. The King is coming! The kings of the earth are living on borrowed time. They plot and connive, but their fate is sealed. So, God sits in the heavens and laughs.
The next spokesman in Psalm 2 is Jesus Himself. He makes a glorious proclamation about the future in which He confirms His Father’s intention to establish Him as the King of kings:
“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware'” (Psalm 2:7-9).
The Begotten One
Jesus begins His proclamation by repeating the Father’s promise to Him that He will one day rule from Mount Zion over “the very ends of the earth.” It is a promise that undoubtedly dates back to the foundation of the world itself. I say that because the Bible tells us that Jesus was foreknown as the Savior who would shed His blood “from before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20, Revelation 13:8, and Ephesians 1:4).
Because Jesus is the Worthy Lamb who was slain for the sins of Man (Revelation 5:9), He is the only one eligible to assert dominion over God’s creation. In that sense, He is the “only begotten” (John 1:14,18) — the only Anointed One of God who is authorized to act in the Father’s behalf as the Regent of planet Earth.
This sense of meaning is reflected in the Living Bible’s paraphrase of Jesus’ proclamation: “I will reveal the everlasting purposes of God, for the Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son. This is your Coronation Day. Today I am giving you your glory. Only ask, and I will give you all the nations of the world'” (Psalm 2:7-8).
Note that the statement, “Today I have begotten You,” is paraphrased to present the real meaning: “This is your Coronation Day.” That is why Jesus could address Himself to the church at Philadelphia as the one “who has the key of David” (Revelation 3:7). He is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and its promise:
“I have made a covenant with My chosen;
I have sworn to David My servant,
I will establish your seed forever,
And build up your throne to all generations” (Psalm 89:3-4).
Once again, keep in mind that the Father’s promise to Jesus is yet to be fulfilled. Remember, Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) because that is when the Father willed it to happen. But the Father’s will did not become a historical reality until thousands of years later. In like manner, Jesus was crowned from the foundation of the world — also because the Father willed it then — but it is an event that is yet to take place in history.
The Roles of Jesus
The first time Jesus came, He came as our Suffering Savior (Isaiah 53). After His resurrection, He became our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). He continues in that capacity today, ministering as the mediator of our prayers before the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1-2). But one day, very soon, He will return, and when He does so, He will return as our Glorious King to reign over all the nations of the world (Revelation 19:16).
Jesus is not serving as a king now. He is never pictured as currently being the king of this world or the king of the church. His relationship to the church is portrayed as being like the head to the body (Ephesians 5:23) or a bridegroom to a bride (Revelation 19:6-9).
Jesus is a king-in-waiting. The situation is like that which prevailed in the life of David for many years. David was anointed the King of Israel by Samuel. But David had to wait many years before he was coronated. Likewise, Jesus has been anointed King of kings and Lord of lords, but He will not be crowned as such in history until He returns to earth.
An Incredible Inheritance
When Jesus does return, the promises of Psalm 2 will be fulfilled to Him. The first of those promises is that He will inherit the earth — “the very ends of the earth” will become His possession (Psalm 2:8).
There is a popular myth that when Jesus returns, the earth will burn up and cease to exist. That can’t be true because the Bible affirms that the earth is “eternal” (Psalm 148:6, Psalm 78:69, and Ecclesiastes 1:4).
It is true that the earth will be radically changed when the Lord returns. The change agents will be earthquakes and supernatural phenomena in the heavens (Revelation 6:12-13). We are told that every island will be moved and that every mountain will be lowered and every valley raised (Revelation 6:14 and Isaiah 40:4). The image that is portrayed is one of the earth’s surface being smoothed out, with Jerusalem being lifted up to become the highest point on the face of the planet (Micah 4:1).
The earth will also be refreshed. The deserts will bloom (Isaiah 35:1,6-7). The hills will “drip with sweet wine” and “flow with milk” (Joel 3:18). The abundance of agriculture will be so great that “the plowman will overtake the reaper” in the sense that a new crop will be planted as fast as the old crop can be harvested (Amos 9:13). Even the Dead Sea will come alive and teem with fish (Ezekiel 47:8-9).
The animal kingdom will also be restored. We are told that the carnivorous animals will become herbivorous. Thus, “the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7). This change will enable the animals to live together in peace with each other and with Man. “The wolf will dwell with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6), and a “nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra” because the cobra will no longer be poisonous (Isaiah 11:8).
The Eternal Earth
Even when the Millennium ends, the earth will not cease to exist. Instead, its fundamental nature will be changed once again. This time the change agent will be fire.
God will take the redeemed off this planet and put us in the New Jerusalem. From that vantage point, we will watch as the Lord superheats the earth and burns away the pollution of Satan’s last revolt.
Then, working with the earth like a hot ball of wax, the Lord will reshape it, and out of that flaming inferno will come a new earth, a perfected earth, an earth which will serve as our home eternally (Revelation 21:1).
God has promised to give that redeemed planet to His Son and to His joint heirs — namely, those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In Psalm 2, He promises the earth to His Son. In Psalm 37:11, He extends that promise to the redeemed: “The humble will inherit the earth.” That promise is repeated in verses 22, 29, and 34.
These promises are the ones that Jesus referred to in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Paul recognized that the same promise was inferred in the Abrahamic Covenant when he wrote that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants (by faith) is that they would “inherit the world” (Romans 4:13).
A Worldwide Reign
The second promise that the Father makes to His Son in Psalm 2 is a natural corollary of the first. Not only will Jesus inherit the earth, but He will also reign over it: “I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance… You shall break them with a rod of iron” (Psalm 2:8-9).
Jesus is coming to reign. That is one of the most persistent themes of the Scriptures from beginning to end. And again, the redeemed will be joint heirs of this promise. We will reign with Jesus.
These truths were graphically portrayed to Daniel in a series of night visions. In one, he saw the “Son of Man” appear before the “Ancient of Days” and receive dominion and a kingdom that included “all the peoples, nations, and men of every language” (Daniel 7:13-14). Then Daniel was told that “the saints of the Highest One” would receive the kingdom and would exercise “the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven” (Daniel 7:18,27).
In Revelation 4, when John is raptured to Heaven and finds himself in the throne room of God, he hears the heavenly host singing a song of praise to Jesus. In the song, the statement is made that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb have been made a kingdom, and “they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
The Glory of the Lord
And what will be the purpose of all this? There are many reasons for the Millennial reign of Jesus. God is going to use that period of time to fulfill promises He has made to the nations, to nature, to a remnant of the Jews, and to the Saints. But the fundamental purpose is to fulfill His promise to His Son that He will one day be glorified in history, just as He was humiliated in history.
This promise is a persistent theme of the Scriptures. It is the essence of the Father’s promise in Psalm 2, and it is echoed throughout the Bible, in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.
The prophet Isaiah says that when the Lord returns in “terror” and in the “splendor of His majesty,” all proud men will be humbled, and “the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:10-11). The Lord’s name will be honored, and He will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He will return to manifest His glory before His Saints (Isaiah 24:23) and before the nations of the world (Isaiah 66:18).
Paul affirms this purpose of the Lord’s return in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, where he states that Jesus is returning “to be glorified in His saints” and “to be marveled at among all who have believed.”
To be concluded in Part Three.