Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nahum


Among the Minor Prophets is a relatively unknown book of Nahum. The book of Nahum is labelled as one of the “Minor Prophets.” This does not mean that their message is any less important than the messages of the prophets called the “Major Prophets.” That label simply means that their message is shorter. The Hebrew name “Nahum” means “comfort” or “consolation.” It is a shortened form of the name Nehemiah. The city of Capernaum is named after Nahum. The Jews call the city “Kepher-Nahum,” or “The City of Nahum.” It is a hard book to read because of the graphic war images. This book is a sequel to the book of Jonah. About 100 years earlier, Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh, which was the capital city of the nation of Assyria. Jonah entered their city preaching the certain message of impending judgment. When the Ninevites heard the message of Jonah, they repented of their sins and the Lord spared the city. At the time of this message a century has passed and they have turned away from the commitment they made to the Lord. But this book is written for the comfort of Judah while Jonah was a message to the Ninevites.

The theme of the prophecy is the fate and destruction of Nineveh, the one-time capital city of the mighty Assyrian empire, which had destroyed Israel and taken many inhabitants of the land captive (722 B.C.). By the time the book of Nahum was written, the Assyrian Empire was at the height of its military and national power. They were on the march, seeking to expand the boundaries of their kingdom. In fact at this time they had gone all the way to Egypt and had only left the ‘village over the hills’ (Jerusalem). Beyond that, the Assyrians were guilty of attacking the nation of Israel. God used them to punish Israel for their sins, but God would also punish Assyria for their disobedience and their hatred of the people of God.
The message was proclaimed to Judah (Nahum 1:15) and not to the 10 tribes of Israel who were already in captivity. Nahum’s announcement was a “comfort” and a “consolation” to the inhabitants of Judah, as it predicted the downfall of Assyria, a savage and cruel enemy of Israel and Judah.

Nahum’s message is one of judgment. It is a book of harsh pronouncements of doom against a people who had abandoned the ways of God. In v.1, Nahum refers to his message as a “burden.” This word means “heavy.” His message is a heavy message because it is a message of doom, gloom and judgment. Nahum’s prophecies were fulfilled when God allowed the Assyrians to be conquered by the Babylonians in 612 BC. 
While Nahum’s message is one of judgment and wrath, there is one bright spot – v. 7. In the midst of all the words of wrath, anger and doom, this verse stands like a shining beacon of hope on a dark and stormy night. I want to unpack the whole book from this verse today. I want to borrow the words of Nahum where he says, “The Lord is good,” for my title. I want to show you some reasons that I see in this verse that teach us that The Lord Is Good.
Nahum reminds the embattled people of God that God is “a stronghold in the day of trouble.” (1:7) the word “stronghold” means, “a place of safety, protection and refuge; a safe harbour in the storm.” Sooner or later, we will all need to stronghold. Trouble will come to us all eventually. (Job 5:7; Job 14:1) the word “trouble” refers to, “distress, straights, or trouble.” It speaks of those times when life closes in around us, and the pressures of life come against us. In those times, the people of God have a refuge. But for believers, we have a place to which we can flee in the day of trouble. A place we are secure from all the hurts and horrors of life, yes… a place of safety for the people of God is in His Son. For we read,
For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Heb. 2:16-18.

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