Today: [Nahum 1] The Christian’s Response in Time of Judgment. Nahum ch. 1 describes a time of ultimate judgment for the Assyrian empire that took the northern kingdom into captivity. During this time he cautions the Jews not to rejoice over the destruction of Assyria, but to maintain solemnity before God and to keep their own vows of obedience to Jehovah. This is a timely study for those of us who follow after God in the midst of a season when ungodliness is being so exposed and dealt with in popular culture.
[Nah 1:1-15 KJV] 1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. 2 God [is] jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth [wrath] for his enemies. 3 The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked]: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds [are] the dust of his feet. 4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. 7 The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. 8 But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies. 9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. 10 For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. 11 There is [one] come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the LORD, a wicked counsellor. 12 Thus saith the LORD; Though [they be] quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more. 13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. 14 And the LORD hath given a commandment concerning thee, [that] no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile. 15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
Nahum is one of the minor prophets, whose book comes in between Micah and Habbakuk. He wrote at a time just before the fall of Assyria, predicting the destruction of Nineveh in a very vivid and poetic fashion. Because his book is presented as prophecy, it is presumed by some that it cannot be prophecy because it is too accurate as to what actually befell Nineveh and Assyria. It is important when you read the prophets and study the scholarship behind them, that when you hear someone suggest it wasn’t written when it alleges to have been written, that this is the logic behind it. Many of the most respected scholars, even in respected conservative seminaries reject the earlier dating of a manuscript merely because it is too accurate in the events it describes and therefore offends the analytical mind with the suggestion that it is actually prophetic insight and not backward looking history. Beware when the notes in the margin of your bible speak of “authorities” and “oldest and best manuscripts”. Behind much of the scholarship of biblical inquiry is entrenched unbelief masquerading as erudite intellectual inquiry.
Nahum is introduces as originating from a place called Elkosh, which is unknown to biblical history. His name means “comfort” because his prophecies speak comfort to the beleaguered Jews who have languished in Assyrian captivity for decades at the time of his writing. Verse 1 also titles his writing as Nahum’s prophetic burden, or prophecy concerning the city of Nineveh. Nineveh is mentioned not just merely as the capital city itself, but representing the entire Assyrian empire in its totality.
Verse 2 declares that God is jealous and “the Lord” will revenge His adversaries. In this dual reference to God Nahum uses two of the primary names for God, the more ancient “El” for “God” and “Yahweh” for “Lord” which is the covenantal name of God specifically applicable to His relationship to the children of Abraham. It is a literary artifice used to bridge the general idea of God or “El” as applying to all peoples, including the Ninevites, and God’s specific fidelity to the Jews, whom the Assyrians have persecuted. A Ninevite would have been offended at the connection being made by Nahum between “El” whom they recognized and worshipped and “Yaweh” whom they would have rejected as a Jewish, pagan deity from their point of view. This type of examination is not irrelevant for our day, as we look at the difference between the Christian idea of God and the Muslim “Allah”. Muslims absolutely reject the Christian idea of God as a blasphemy to their beliefs, but throughout the prophetical books of the Old Testament, specifically those written in the Aramaic language, the bible word for “God” is often “Allah”. This then would completely delegitimize the Islamic faith as a usurpation of the older and more ancient Jewish and Christian faith. History bears this out when studying the origins of the Islamic faith, we find it to be a reactionary response to corrupt elements of the Christian faith that Mohammed was exposed to early in his life.
Nahum declares the vengeance of God against His enemies, and that while He is slow to anger, He will not acquit the wicked in their unrepentant attitudes and transgressions. Verse 4 speaks of the intensity of His rebuke that dries up the sea with one word, and the rivers with the fury of His wrath. In v. 5 the mountains are described as quaking before Him and all hills being caused to melt and the earth to be burned at the indignation of His presence. V. 6 asks the question “who can stand” at the indignation of His fury that is poured out like fire upon the ungodly. This is an aspect of God that is greatly marginalized in the seeker sensitive climate of today’s Christian culture. Nahum reminds us that while God is merciful and kind, there is also anger in God. God is capable of fury.
You cannot have a biblical worldview and a scriptural understanding of God without accepting, however uncomfortable that may be, that God is fully capable of anger, and of demonstrating His anger toward those that reject His counsel and His rule over all the earth. The very existence of hell itself is testament to the fact that God will not always strive with man. Christian culture is working very diligently to eliminate all reference to hell today, by ignoring the teaching concerning eternal damnation, and in many cases teaching directly against it. The word of God stands very clear on this point. God is capable of anger, and hell is a very real place where more people will spend eternity than there will be those in heaven.
You cannot have a biblical faith in the God of scripture without accepting the reality of hell and the reality of God’s capacity for anger, and demonstrating His anger in the earth. The anger of God and the ideation of God’s own sense of justice is what necessitated the cross. This is why God did not just decide to forgive everyone without sending Jesus. Divine justice had to be satisfied, because God is immutable and unchangeable, even to the necessity of His own son coming to pay the price of extending clemency to you and I that we might escape the consequences of His wrath. When we read of Assyria, we accept they represent something of ourselves, and any sentiment or thinking in our own lives that is anti-Christ in nature.
In verse 9 Nahum speaks against the imaginations of men’s hearts who dismiss the idea of accountability to a living God. He asks the question “what do you imagine against God?”. Men can come up with all kinds of intellectual arguments against God’s very existence, or religious doctrines dismissing aspects of God’s character that make us uncomfortable, but Nahum describes that God in spite of all man’s effort to dismiss His existence and sense of justice will make an “utter end” and that those who suffer the pains of His justice will not rise up a second time. This dismisses then the idea of purgatory in Catholicism, or the eastern religious idea of reincarnation. We get one opportunity in this life to get it right and after that the final (emphasis on the word “final”) judgment.
Verse 10 states that though men come together in agreement like thorn branches intertwined with one another, they will ultimately be devoured as dry stubble in the fires of God’s judgments. In other words, just because everyone agrees that there is no God, or that God exists, but there is no such thing as hell, or ultimate retribution at the judgement bar of heaven, that agreement doesn’t make it so. Nahum mocks at the godlessness of men’s thinking about divine justice and eternal judgment stating that no matter what men choose to think or come into agreement about, their end will be sure, as kindling cast into the fire.
Verse 11 leaps out of the contemporary events of Nahum’s day and speaks prophetically of the anti-Christ as one who will come out of Assyria, who will imagine evil against the Lord in the last day. This verse is the second verse (in agreement with Micah 5:5) that identifies the anti-Christ as “the Assyrian”. For this reason, many scholars suggest that the anti-Christ of the apocalypse will be of Syrian extraction, or will arise from the ancient lands of Assyria. Any time you see a reference to Assyria, or “the Assyrian” it speaks to us of the anti-Christ spirit that John spoke about in his first epistle:
[1Jo 4:3 KJV] 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
This is important to us because “Christ” not only refers to Jesus in His person, but also as to His anointing. The word Christ means literally “one smeared with oil…” In Christian culture today, even among those who consider themselves “full gospel” in their orientation, the idea and experience of an actual “call” of God or of “the anointing” is a very foreign reference. Even in conservative Christian circles, most Christians have no capability to discern the difference between human charisma and anointing from on high. This is not random happenstance, but evidence of the spirit of anti-Christ working in our very pews and from behind our own pulpits as the immediacy of God’s presence and the importance of the anointing becomes increasingly marginalized by pastors and leaders who no longer see such things as necessary for Christian service.
In v. 14 the command of God comes that the idols and false god of Assyria will be cut off and cast down and that those who worship them will be made vile in a grave prepared specifically for them. We have seen this even of late when some of the most high profile politicians, celebrities and media personalities are being exposed and their notoriety being destroyed by the revealing of their sins and their ungodliness that has run unchecked for decades, all the while that they led millions astray with their anti-Christ agenda to marginalize our faith and set aside the values that we hold dear.
In the midst of the judgments described in Nahum chapter 1 what is to be the response of God’s people? Nahum is describing a time when the centuries of Assyrian ungodliness is brought to judgment by the hand of God. When such seasons of judgment come as they do even in our day and will come ultimately over all the earth, God’s people are admonished not to rejoice and laugh with glee as the ungodly perish, but to keep the solemn feasts of God and perform our own vows of fidelity toward Him, lest we also be cut off.
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