“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1)
Why is the nation in a tumult? Why are the people conspiring and contemplating some fruitless thing? This was the reaction of the unbelieving Jewish people over the arrival of Jesus Christ. It was an entire nation, a peoples, a religion in complete upheaval, not joy, over the arrival of the Messiah.
The heathen still rages today. Except now, the heathen is not identified by any particular religion, nation or people. The heathen knows no specific culture or locale. The heathen is defined by a more contemporary standard of being without the trinity, without the one true God, His Son and Holy Ghost. The heathen is not only without, but in denial and often revolt over the truth.
“Never were the notions of any sect of philosophers, though ever so absurd, nor the powers of any prince or state, though ever so tyrannical, opposed with so much violence as the doctrine and government of Christ–a sign that it was from heaven, for the opposition was plainly from hell originally.” – Matthew Henry
But the question still begs to be answered. Why are the people imagining a vain thing?
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:2-3).
We know that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus Christ, His spirit and His church. So why does the heathen continue to rage and the people, 2,000 years later, continue to imagine a vain thing?
“When the ungodly have mustered their forces, and when, depending on their vast numbers, their riches, and their means of defense, they not only pour forth their proud blasphemies, but furiously assault heaven itself, we may safely laugh them to scorn, relying on this one consideration, that he whom they are assailing is the God who is in heaven. When we see Christ well nigh overwhelmed with the number and strength of his enemies, let us remember that they are making war against God over whom they shall not prevail, and therefore their attempts, whatever they may be, and however increasing, will come to naught, and be utterly ineffectual.” – John Calvin