Monday, February 08, 2021

2021.02.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Nahum 1:1–8

Read Nahum 1:1–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What is this prophecy called (Nahum 1:1)? Against whom? What is the scroll called? Whose vision? From what place? What does God declare about Himself in Nahum 1:2? What does He say three times? What does He say twice? What fact about Yahweh makes His vengeance and fury even more notable (Nahum 1:3a)? What fact about Him makes His vengeance and fury so dangerous? What makes His vengeance and fury sure—what will He not do (verse 3b)? What indicators has He given of the greatness of His coming vengeance and fury (Nahum 1:3-5)? What questions do Nahum 1:6a-b ask? What is the implied answer? How do verse 6c–d illustrate that answer? What other fact about Yahweh does Nahum 1:7a introduce? What does this make Him (verse 7b)? To whom—whom does He acknowledge and with whom does He identify (verse 7c)? But what is He going to do to Nineveh, with what (Nahum 1:8a-b)? What will pursue whom (verse 8c)?

From Nahum 1:2 (“adversaries”/ “enemies”) to Nahum 1:8 (“enemies”), we have a dreadful warning: there can be nothing more horrific than to be an enemy of God. 

How great is the jealousy of Yahweh’s vengeance (Nahum 1:2a)! How great is the fury of Yahweh’s vengeance (verse 2b)! How essential to His relation to His adversaries is that vengeance (verse 2c)! How sure and immense is the storing up of that vengeance (verse 2d)! How ominous the slowness of His vengeance’s coming (Nahum 1:3a)! Because how great is His power! How absolute is His justice (verse 3b)! What dreadful witnesses He has given us of all this, in His providence to the fallen creation (verse 3c–e)! The most impressive and stable creatures—yea, even all the creation together—are weak and flimsy even before these witnesses (Nahum 1:4Nahum 1:5Nahum 1:6c-d)! How foolishly impossible to think that a rebellious man could survive Him (verse 6a–b)!

This is dreadful news for Assyria, and its capitol city Nineveh (Nahum 1:1Nahum 1:8). But Israel also have acted as an enemy (cf. Micah 2:8), which is why the Assyrians have devastated them (cf. Hosea 9:3, Hosea 10:5–8). So, why this horrifying “burden against Nineveh” (Nahum 1:1)? And how can there be such hope for Israel (Nahum 2:2), who have acted previously as an enemy? 

It’s true that Assyria was used by God to chasten Israel (cf. Hosea 10:10). But being used by God for good doesn’t free you to sin against Him! Most commentators focus upon the brutality of the Assyrians. And Nahum 3:1 does call Nineveh “the bloody city, all full of lies and robbery, whose prey never departs.” 

But when Yahweh of Hosts Himself says, “Behold, I am against you” in Nahum 3:5, it is because Assyria has sold nations and families through her harlotries as “the mistress of sorceries.” It’s her false religion—whether the Assyrian mythology, or (likely both/and) her trust in her own impressiveness—her saying with the nations, kings, and peoples, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (cf. Psalm 2:1–3; Luke 19:14). 

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men, which has as its bottom the unrighteous suppressing of the truth that God has made all things for His own glory (cf. Romans 1:18–21). Sorcery, being an attempt to have divine power without the divine Lord, is an act of enmity against Him, and trusting in either idols or military might is a form of it. Just because Assyria was providentially appointed for the chastening of Israel doesn’t mean they can get away with violence, idolatry, or sorcery.

But as the holiness and justice and wrath of God come into view, it’s the second question that perplexes: how can there be such hope for Israel (Nahum 2:2), who have acted as enemies of the Lord (cf. Micah 2:8)? The answer is in Nahum 1:7: “Yahweh is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” He has made provision of His own righteousness, for those who trust in Christ (cf. Romans 1:16–17). Christ has taken the enmity, so that those trusting in Him can have the righteousness (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

That’s what is so amazing about Nahum 1:7. Yahweh is a stronghold in the day of trouble, when the trouble is Yahweh Himself! But, He brings enemies to a faith that ends the enmity, and He “knows” them instead as His friends. He saves His elect Israel (n.b. Romans 9:6–8) from Himself, by Himself, for Himself.

How have you acted as Yahweh’s enemy? How can you be safe from His wrath? Are you safe from His wrath?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH109 “O My God, Whose Name I Worship”

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