May 16, 2013

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament XXV: Spitting Nails


For a prophet whose name means comfort, he carries a burden: The message of the destruction of Nineveh and the ferocious burning anger towards them from God. God is spitting nails in this prophet's book. It is as if His blood is like boiling lead. God’s comfort though Nahum is for the kingdom of Judah. In the mist of this comfort we see mention of God’s wrath or anger three different times with three different Hebrew words in one verse which is directed a God’s enemies. We see a word that means indignation or figuratively frothing at the mouth or seething in anger זַעְמֹו֙. We see a fuming from the nostrils in anger in אַפֹּ֑ו. We see חֲמָתֹו֙ meaning fury in correlation to heat caused by said anger. Perhaps because of the redness of a face in one that is emotionally agitated. God isn’t just a little upset here he is fuming, seething and this fierce anger is projecting heat outwards towards the object of His wrath…His enemies…those disobedient and in rebellion against Him. Not a real good place to be.

Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. Nahum 1:6-8

We see a distinct contrast of love for those that take refuge in Him and wrath that do not trust in Him. These contrasts are clear, obvious and poignant for any that will take the time to read them. It is a later reiteration of Deuteronomy 28’s, blessing for those that are obedient and curses for those that are disobedient. Those that do not obey the word of the Lord are His enemy by their very nature.

So we see the disobedience of Nineveh. They were warned judgment would come by God’s reluctant prophet Jonah and they initially responded in a positive manner to Jonah but a few years down the road, like natural sinners will, they slid back into their sin and rebellion against God. The remainder of the prophecy (and book) of Nahum is pointed like a nail gun at Nineveh. Nahum literally acts as the counterpart to Jonah and his book and prophecy. In Jonah we see a patient and merciful God both with Jonah’s antics and with the antics of Nineveh. In Nahum we see the study of contrasts. We see God’s trigger of wrath being pulled on His enemies after having exhausted His long-suffering patience. He had been supernaturally patient but now…that time was over. How long oh Lord will this modern nation of America be allowed to pursue its wayward and sinful ends before you pull the trigger on your anger…before you drop the hammer on the head of an apostate nail? Have you already done so (as I suspect you have)? Is that resounding ring in my ears the report of your hammer hitting its mark? Woe to those who have called evil good.

Nineveh had returned to its sin after initially repenting but now they were flipping their finger at Him. We see right in its leader Sennacherib a blasphemous and flippant attitude towards God.

“Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time. They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble. From you, Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the Lord and devises wicked plans.” Nahum 1:9, 11

Assorted passages from 2 Chronicles 3:29-20:

(v. 10-11)“This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? When Hezekiah says, ‘The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.”


(v.13-17) “Do you not know what I and my predecessors have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!” Sennacherib’s officers spoke further against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah.  The king also wrote letters ridiculing the Lord, the God of Israel, and saying this against him: “Just as the gods of the peoples of the other lands did not rescue their people from my hand, so the god of Hezekiah will not rescue his people from my hand.” 

What bold arrogance we read of here. Through all of this we see a God who showed His longsuffering character and mercy in Jonah continue into the beginning of Nahum but in the beginning of Nahum we see God’s patience end. In Jonah we see the God or LORD of Exodus 34:6 who:

“…the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” Exodus 34:6

In Nahum we see the avenger and the jealous God, although slow to anger, eventually He judges wickedness.

The Lord is slow to anger but 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. Nahum 1:3

Nahum’s message of comfort for Judah is that Nineveh’s day was coming and the judgment would be absolute and utter destruction for the Ninevites. They were absolutely and utterly doomed. There were no conditions here.  This was not a conditional prophecy like Jonah’s, this was like a bullet (or nail) already released from the chamber heading towards its end. When Nineveh fell it was at the absolute height of its power (just as America appears to be now). So complete was Nineveh’s destruction, so deep was her grave that she totally disappeared from history and it happened virtually overnight in terms of historic timescales. It wasn’t until modern times in 1841-42 that scientists were able to affirm the truth/evidence of Nineveh’s existence after it had been completely eradicated.

What is the principle and moral of the story? If you’re on the receiving end of God’s justice, His righteous hammer of judgment will most certainly crush you and you will be ground to unidentifiable power or sand. When He’s done with you, most will not even know that you ever existed. Just ask the Ninevites. Oh wait, you can’t, they haven’t existed since the 7th century BC…yet the Jews and Israel still do along with Christians.

In a moral and symbolic sense, Nineveh (and ironically America, or any apostate nation) is described in Romans 1:21-23. The chief deity of sinful Nineveh was the bull-god that had the face of a man and the wings of a bird. This is the same description given in Romans of ''an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts.''

What is the context and what does Romans 1 speak of? It speaks of people or persons that have been given over to their own sins in judgment due to apostasy. The fact that they have been given over to this sin speaks of the judgment in itself. The end result of this judgment is not conditional… it is complete and absolute. People that reach this extent of apostasy are visited upon by catastrophic destruction.  Those of Sodom and Gomorrah and those of Noah’s time would agree if they could…but they’ve been destroyed, haven’t they? Even apostate Christianity will meet this end…

Luke 17:26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

So where is Christ in this? He's in the repentance and long-suffering loving-kindness. He is in the willingness to reach out and die for others while they are still His enemies. He is also in that moment when the sinner has just gone too far and are turned over to their judgment. It isn't until we turn to Him and repent that we truly understand what He has done for us, saving us from the wrath of God. To date, the Jews have still not figured it out and it has been two thousand years and they are still paying the price of their stiff necks.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Matthew 23:37

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