First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Good morning. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. Weíre looking at 5 of the Minor Prophets this week and I started yesterday with Micah. Today weíre looking at the very short book of Nahum. I will, of course, ask for Godís blessing on this message and may He give me words to speak and you ears to hear, thru the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, Amen!
Nahum is a short book of only 3 chapters, averaging about 15 verses each. Short it may be, but lightly to be taken, it is not. In fact, itís probably a good thing itís short, because we probably wouldnít be able to take its message in longer form! The message of Nahum is a proclamation against Nineveh in which God prophesizes what Heís going to do to them. And itís not pretty. After giving His reasons in chapters 1 and 2, God states, thru Nahum in chapter 3:
Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots! Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses They stumble over the corpses Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries. "Behold, I am against you," says the LORD of hosts; "I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, And the kingdoms your shame. I will cast abominable filth upon you, Make you vile, And make you a spectacle. It shall come to pass that all who look upon you Will flee from you, and say, 'Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?' Where shall I seek comforters for you?" (Nahum 3:1-7 NKJV)
Nineveh is going to be utterly and absolutely destroyed. Now, whatís interesting about this is that when we covered the story of Jonah a few months ago, we saw Nineveh repenting. Jonahís task was to preach repentance in the streets of Nineveh. The people heard the message and they repented, thus God spared them. Yet, here they are in the process of being destroyed. What happened?
What happened was that they forgot their repentance and returned to their wicked ways. We know that because Nahum 3:1 said so- "Woe to the bloody city! It is full of lies and robbery." Numerous verses in the Bible warn against non-repentant backsliding:
Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live? "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. (Ezekiel 18:23-24 NKJV)
As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly. (Proverbs 26:11 NKJV)
But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A DOG RETURNS TO HIS OWN VOMIT," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:22 NKJV)
But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NKJV)
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 NKJV)
Thatís what happened to Nineveh. Their repentance wasnít true, but was just temporary. They not only fell away from it, but returned, like the dog to its vomit, to their wicked ways. And Godís justice and judgment are falling upon them.
This sense of justice are part of Godís character and from the early part of Nahum, we can see quite a few other aspects of that character. Itís very common for people to fixate on Godís love and mercy to the exclusion of everything else, but, as James Montgomery Boice pointed out in his commentary on the Minor Prophets, you have to realize that love and mercy are cultural things. That is, a person might say "Oh, I could never believe in a loving God who punishes people for their sins." Their culture emphasizes forgiveness. But another culture might emphasize justice and someone from that culture could very well say "Oh, I could never believe in a God who forgives people and withholds justice!" Neither culture has the complete picture, but Godís plan thru Jesus Christ does contain the complete picture. In that plan, justice is served because Jesus took the punishment that was due us. Mercy is served in that Jesus took the punishment that was due us. Love is absolutely served because Jesus stepped up to take our punishment. All aspects of Godís character are satisfied and yet some aspect of manís character is insulted. Some are insulted because God demands justice, others are insulted because God provides for mercy. What this should show us is just how different Godís character is from ours.
But, letís look at some of those characters.
God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts. The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him. The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:2-7 NKJV)
From this passage, I can see that God is jealous, avenges, is furious, has adversaries, has wrath, is slow to anger, great in power, will not acquit the wicked, has His way, rebukes the seas and rivers, makes mountains quake and hills melt, is all powerful, angry, good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and knows those who trust in Him. And those are just a few verses! Godís character is infinitely complex and it is a deadly mistake for man to pigeonhole God into a few categories, especially categories which please us and suit our purposes. Yes, God is good and a stronghold in the day of trouble, but Heís also jealous, capable of wrath, and angry at times, and sometimes all at the same time.
Really, itís Godís wrath that makes salvation from that wrath so precious. Itís Godís justice that makes mercy such a treasured thing. Itís His power and control that makes His protection so sure. As Paul says:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NKJV)
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)
And finally, in Nahum we have a statement quoted in the New Testament.
Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, Perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off. (Nahum 1:15 NKJV)
This is very similar to a quote from Isaiah:
How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7 NKJV)
Both of these are echoed by Paul as he talks about the importance of preaching:
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!" (Romans 10:15 NKJV)
To sum up Nahum, then, two things strike me about this book:
the complexity of Godís nature, and :
the seriousness of repentance.
Godís nature cannot be summed up by us humans. His ways are far beyond ours and his nature infinitely more complex. To think that we understand Godís nature is a fatal mistake. All we can really do is stand in awe and trust in Him.
Secondly, when one repents, make sure that repentance is genuine. Donít fall back to your wicked ways and if you do fall back to them, repent again! Repent as many times as is necessary, but be sure your repentance is genuine. The word repentance means to "turn away from". It doesnít mean "to be sorry for but continue doing". There is a big difference and time will tell. You will not be able to do this on your own, but you must have the Holy Spirit working in you to change your nature, conforming it to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8. Consider these verses and pay particular attention to who is credited for the work:
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4 NKJV)
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13 NKJV)
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 NKJV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
It is God who is able to make you stand or fall. This is why we say "trust in Christ". We have to trust in His works to save us, not our works. We have to trust in God to make us stand, not to stand on our strength. And we have to trust in the Holy Spirit to prick our conscience, not to rely on our own knowledge. When people fail, itís because they trusted in their own selves or because their repentance was only one of brief sorrow, not of a true turning away from the sin.
Please consider this message carefully. Feel free to visit the church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org or call us at 575.278.2782. May God shine the light and truth of Jesus Christ into your heart. In His name, Amen!
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