“All the world’s a stage,” writes Shakespeare. The stage of history is large. Arrogant people appear on this stage from time to time, swaggering about, brandishing weapons and money, terrorizing and bullying. At any given moment a few superpower nations and their rulers dominate the daily news. Every century a few of these names are left carved on its park benches, marking rather futile attempts at immortality.
Eugene Peterson writes, “The danger is that the noise of these pretenders to power will distract us from what is going on quietly at the center of the stage in the person and action of God. God’s characteristic way of working is in quietness ad through prayer. If we are conditioned to respond to noise and size, we will miss God’s word and action.”
God’s prophets are those who stand up above the noise of the world to pay attention to Him, then warn others around them to do the same. Nahum is one of those called by God to draw people back to who God is and what HE is doing center stage—the main action—at the very heart of the life!
Nahum’s assignment was to the capital of Assyria, Nineveh. At that time Assyria dominated which paralyzed God’s people. Nahum urged people to believe and pray to a sovereign God. His preaching, his Spirit-born metaphors, his God-shaped words, knocked Assyria off her high horse and cleared the field of Nineveh-distractions so that Israel could see that despite her world reputations, Assyria didn’t amount to much. Israel could now attend to what was really going on.
“Because Nahum has a single message—doom to Nineveh—it is easy to misunderstand the prophet as simply a Nineveh-hater. But Nahum writes and preaches out of the large context in which Israel’s sins are denounced as vigorously as those of any of her enemies. The effect of Nahum is not to form religious hate against the enemy but to say, ‘Don’t admire or be intimidated by this enemy. They are going to be judged by the very same standards applied to us.’” –Peterson
Nahum 1, The Message
God Is Serious Business
A report on the problem of Nineveh, the way God gave Nahum of Elkosh to see it:
2-6 God is serious business.
He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
his fury shatters boulders.
7-10 God is good,
a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.
But cozy islands of escape
He wipes right off the map.
No one gets away from God.
Why waste time conniving against God?
He’s putting an end to all such scheming.
For troublemakers, no second chances.
Like a pile of dry brush,
Soaked in oil,
they’ll go up in flames.
A Think Tank for Lies
11 Nineveh’s an anthill
of evil plots against God,
A think tank for lies
that seduce and betray.
12-13 And God has something to say about all this:
“Even though you’re on top of the world,
With all the applause and all the votes,
you’ll be mowed down flat.
“I’ve afflicted you, Judah, true,
but I won’t afflict you again.
From now on I’m taking the yoke from your neck
and splitting it up for kindling.
I’m cutting you free
from the ropes of your bondage.”
* * *
14 God’s orders on Nineveh:
“You’re the end of the line.
It’s all over with Nineveh.
I’m gutting your temple.
Your gods and goddesses go in the trash.
I’m digging your grave. It’s an unmarked grave.
You’re nothing—no, you’re less than nothing!”
15 Look! Striding across the mountains—
a messenger bringing the latest good news: peace!
A holiday, Judah! Celebrate!
Worship and recommit to God!
No more worries about this enemy.
This one is history. Close the books.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
God is. God was, is and always will be God. Don’t mess with God. Believe God. God will correct what is bad with all that is good for God is Good. In fact, God is the definition of Good. God is also love and because of that love, He is Savior. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God created all, is in all, is over all and loves all that He created. He loves us and wants His very best for us. He wants us to believe seriously and honestly what He says is really real. Only then can we begin our intimate, growing relationship with Him. There is no one like our God!
There will always be the enemy who is against God and wants to be God. He is easy to spot when we pay attention. Our enemy is not flesh and blood (each other) but the Prince of all that is dark. He does his best work under the cover of darkness appealing to our pride. Be just as aware of what is pulling us away from God as what is pulling us to God. Our prayer life, our “never ceasing” communion through communication with God, is our best defense. What the enemy hates most are true believers in God, on their knees, praying in Jesus Name. When we do this, the enemy flees from us. So—do exactly that! Run from the enemy to God!
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV In another translation, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7, NLT
The devil appeals to our pride—God is drawn to our humility.
I am so glad You are who you say You are. I am grateful for your promise to always be with us. I pray for focused attention on all that is You. I thank you for Your Holy Spirit living in me to do your work of changing and transforming me to be all you created me to be—yours. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me whole. Lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from the evil enemy of distraction from you.
In Jesus Name, Amen