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God Is Dangerous

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God Is Dangerous

Nahum                Sept. 7, 1997

 

Scripture:  Psalm 18:7-15

 

Introduction:

          In verse 3 in the beginning of Nahum we see God described by one of the ways in which he is seen and known to operate.  “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm.”  In other words, God is very capable of coming down like a tornado or sweeping in across like a hurricane.  We just saw this type of theophany, or picture of God, in action in Psalm 18 with the divine manifestation of the heavenly Warrior descending in wrathful attack upon David’s enemies.

          This is what God is about to bring upon Nineveh.  The time is 650 BC; 70 years after Assyria takes the northern nation of Israel captive and 38 years before Nineveh is destroyed.  Nahum does not call for Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, the first world power, to repent.  Jonah already did that 130 years earlier (Jonah 3:4-5).  At that time they did repent. Even though Nahum doesn’t call upon them to repent, I believe they could have done so with effect.  But by now their hearts were too hard to respond and God takes action.  This generation of Ninevites  had rejected the witness that God gave them in Jonah.  Perhaps they thought they were far enough removed now from God and they could do their own thing.  Their lust for blood had curdled their conscience.  It was the wonder of divine grace that God gave them a chance at repentance in the first place.  But God is now done with their return to blatant wickedness, brutality and pride.  Their brutality has reached epic proportions.  They do not just conquer, they mutilate and maim their captives with delight (flay alive, boil in tar, etc.).  If they were the conquerors of the civilized world, the veneer of civilization was very thin.  They are now sinning in the light of knowledge because God had already warned them.  And God pronounces irreversible judgment.  In Mt. 12:41, Jesus declared that the men of Nineveh who repented at the preaching of Jonah would rise up to condemn the generation that rejected the Christ, the light of the living gospel.  It is dangerous to reject God.  He holds us accountable for the light he gives us.

          This is prophecy.  God proclaims something and it happens just as he said it would.  We don’t always have all the facts, or understand them, before it happens.  But we certainly know it was God who did it when he does it.  Our hindsight becomes 20/20.  This is where we are at with Nahum’s prophecy.  All that God said happened.  Let us imagine an earthly example.  Let’s put it in the context of parent-child, like God’s relationship with us.  You tell your son that if he beats up on his sister one more time he’s not going to go on the weekend vacation trip to Disneyland.  He will have to stay with his baby-sitter, Mrs. Tweakberry.  He hates her.  But he hates his sister worse and despises your authority.  Next time you turn your back he’s at it again.  He’s sinning in the light of your warning.  You must make good on it.  You all leave on vacation and he stays.  That is prophecy.  I bet you didn’t know you were a parental prophet of sorts did you?  Technically, prophecy is God’s realm of revelation alone.  But prophecy is proved prophecy when it comes to pass.  And God always does what he says.  He is the perfect parent, not only to punish wrong, but to reward right and protect the innocent.  Prophecy establishes and justifies God’s sovereignty.

          Most of Nahum is addressed to Nineveh, but some to Judah.  The northern kingdom of Israel had already been absorbed by the Assyrians 70 years earlier, never to be heard from again.  God deals with sin whether it comes from his own people or the world.  God’s message through Nahum is that Nineveh will never be heard from again.  In fact, it was totally destroyed by the Babylonians 38 years later, never to be rebuilt, covered with sand to this day (Zeph. 2:13-15) except for scattered small settlements.  It was a large city covering 1800 acres, an amazing culture that had become corrupted.  They surrounded themselves with luxury but it all came tumbling down at the command of God.

          Nahum’s message doomed Nineveh and offered comfort to Judah that their oppressor would be destroyed.  But I believe there was also another message implied to Judah, taking place during the reign of wicked King Manasseh, that prompted him to take notice of his own doings.  They weren’t too far removed from what prompted God’s judgment of Nineveh (2Ch. 33:9-13).  Manasseh rebelled against God and against Assyria.  He was taken captive a couple years after this prophecy but before it was carried out.  He decided to repent before God after being led captive to Babylon with a ring in his nose.  When he was released by the mercy of God, he returned to Jerusalem to institute some reforms toward worship of the One True God.  I believe Nahum played a part in Manasseh’s repentance.  Where is your heart and my heart before God?  I praise God that he does not allow us to go blindly on in our sin.  I praise God that he calls us to account.  I praise God that we have ears to hear and that he allows us to hear.  I praise God that he extends mercy to his people, and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture, if we are in Christ.

          These are the kind of things we can learn from the minor prophets.  These are things about God and the way he operates.  He is sovereign over history and the affairs of nations.  He is sovereign over your life and mine.  We can take notice now and make adjustment.  Or we can ignore him now and reap bitter consequences.  God will not be ignored.  He is a dangerous God to whom we must pay attention.  But he is also a gracious God of kindness and mercy to those who listen to him and try to overcome evil.  Nahum opens with a marvelous poem describing the personality, character and power of Almighty God.

Superscription (1:1)

1 ¶ An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

I.       The Doom of Nineveh Declared (1:2-2:1)

          A.      Theme:  God Is a God of Justice Who Will Punish the Wicked                          and Avenge His Own (1:2)

2 ¶ The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.

          B.      Development:  A Hymn to the Sovereign God (1:2-10)

                   1.       Who defeats His foes (1:2-6)

2 ¶ The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.

3  The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

4  He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.

5  The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.

6  Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

                   2.       Who destroys the plotters (1:7-10)

7  The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,

8  but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness.

9 ¶ Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.

10  They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.

          C.      Application:  God’s Justice for Nineveh and Judah (1:11-15)

11  From you, O Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the LORD and counsels wickedness.

12  This is what the LORD says: "Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, O Judah, I will afflict you no more.

13  Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away."

14  The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: "You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the carved images and cast idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile."

15  Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.

II.      The Doom of Nineveh Described (2:1-3:19)

          A.      Theme:  God Is a Just Governor of the Nations Who Will Punish           Wicked Nineveh and Restore His Own (2:1-2)

1 ¶ An attacker advances against you, Nineveh. Guard the fortress, watch the road, brace yourselves, marshal all your strength!

2  The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines.

          B.      Development:  First Description of Nineveh’s Demise (2:3-10)

3  The shields of his soldiers are red; the warriors are clad in scarlet. The metal on the chariots flashes on the day they are made ready; the spears of pine are brandished.

4  The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning.

5  He summons his picked troops, yet they stumble on their way. They dash to the city wall; the protective shield is put in place.

6  The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.

7  It is decreed that the city be exiled and carried away. Its slave girls moan like doves and beat upon their breasts.

8  Nineveh is like a pool, and its water is draining away. "Stop! Stop!" they cry, but no one turns back.

9  Plunder the silver! Plunder the gold! The supply is endless, the wealth from all its treasures!

10  She is pillaged, plundered, stripped! Hearts melt, knees give way, bodies tremble, every face grows pale.

          C.      Application:  The Discredited City (2:11-13)

11 ¶ Where now is the lions' den, the place where they fed their young, where the lion and lioness went, and the cubs, with nothing to fear?

12  The lion killed enough for his cubs and strangled the prey for his mate, filling his lairs with the kill and his dens with the prey.

13  "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard."

          D.      Development:  Second Description of Nineveh’s Demise (3:1-7)

1 ¶ Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!

2  The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots!

3  Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses--

4  all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft.

5  "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame.

6  I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.

7  All who see you will flee from you and say, 'Nineveh is in ruins-- who will mourn for her?' Where can I find anyone to comfort you?"

          E.      Application:  The Defenseless Citadel (3:8-19)

                   1.       A comparison of Nineveh and Thebes (3:8-13)

8 ¶ Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her? The river was her defense, the waters her wall.

9  Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength; Put and Libya were among her allies.

10  Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.

11  You too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees with their first ripe fruit; when they are shaken, the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.

13  Look at your troops-- they are all women! The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies; fire has consumed their bars.

                   2.       A concluding condemnation of Nineveh (3:14-19)

14  Draw water for the siege, strengthen your defenses! Work the clay, tread the mortar, repair the brickwork!

15  There the fire will devour you; the sword will cut you down and, like grasshoppers, consume you. Multiply like grasshoppers, multiply like locusts!

16  You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more than the stars of the sky, but like locusts they strip the land and then fly away.

17  Your guards are like locusts, your officials like swarms of locusts that settle in the walls on a cold day-- but when the sun appears they fly away, and no one knows where.

18  O king of Assyria, your shepherds slumber; your nobles lie down to rest. Your people are scattered on the mountains with no one to gather them.

19  Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?

III. Conclusion

          Illustration:  Sometimes God rings just once.


God Is Dangerous

Nahum                Aug. 31, 1997

I.       The Doom of Nineveh Declared (1:2-2:1)

          A.      Theme:  God Is a God of Justice Who Will Punish the Wicked                          and Avenge His Own (1:2)

          B.      Development:  A Hymn to the Sovereign God (1:2-10)

                   1.       Who defeats His foes (1:2-6)

                   2.       Who destroys the plotters (1:7-10)

          C.      Application:  God’s Justice for Nineveh and Judah (1:11-15)

II.      The Doom of Nineveh Described (2:1-3:19)

          A.      Theme:  God Is a Just Governor of the Nations Who Will Punish           Wicked Nineveh and Restore His Own (2:1-2)

          B.      Development:  First Description of Nineveh’s Demise (2:3-10)

          C.      Application:  The Discredited City (2:11-13)

          D.      Development:  Second Description of Nineveh’s Demise (3:1-7)

          E.      Application:  The Defenseless Citadel (3:8-19)

                   1.       A comparison of Nineveh and Thebes (3:8-13)

                   2.       A concluding condemnation of Nineveh (3:14-19)


 

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