April 21, 2012

Today you should read: Nahum 3

Don’t go back…

Well, this chapter will make you smile (not). Let’s just say this isn’t the most pleasant chapter in the Bible. I’m pretty sure your kids would cry if you read this to them… no bedtime stories from Nahum chapter 3.

So what’s going on here? Well, remember Jonah? He came preaching judgment on Nineveh. Nineveh repented. And
even though Jonah wanted the Lord to destroy Nineveh, God was gracious and showed Jonah that He can show grace to
whomever He chooses. So, Nineveh was commended for their small steps of obedience. God relented because they
showed a heart of reverence for Him. But now… they’re back to their old ways. And let’s just say that God isn’t happy.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

God is patient, but He shows us, in this chapter, that His patience only lasts so long.

Coming from this chapter, I want to ponder on a few questions:

1. What are your old ways?

2. Have you gone back to your old ways?

3. If not, have you been thinking about going back to your old ways?

4. What can you learn from this chapter about turning back to your old ways?

5. How can you make the decision today to leave your old ways behind? What needs to be done?

Don’t go back. Nineveh forfeited the grace shown to them earlier by their disobedience later.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

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April 20, 2012

Today you should read: Nahum 2

Nineveh is falling!

This is the cry of Nahum in this chapter. If you remember, Nineveh is the city Jonah was called to go to and call them to repent. Jonah, of course, ran away and was swallowed by a big fish and then later went to Nineveh and a repented (Jonah 3).

So what happened between Jonah chapter 3 and Nahum chapter 2? We don’t know but I think we can make an educated guess. You see, Nineveh was a wicked, cruel city. It was the capital city of the Assyrian empire — a cruel and violent people, bent on expansion and domination. So from this knowledge we can assume that Nineveh’s repentance was short lived. They turned to the Lord in the Book of Jonah but went back to their evil, prideful ways in the Book of Nahum.

We can learn a valuable lesson here:

Repentance is not a one-time thing; it is a constant process of turning away from and getting further from sin.

Many of us live life as though we can just say “Sorry” and then live how we want to because God has forgiven us of all our sin. Though that is true, it does not give us the right to live on in our sinful ways. (See Romans 6) So take a lesson from Nineveh, make repentance a moment by moment lifestyle, not a one-time deal. God wants us to grow closer to Him and in holiness — repentance is the way we do that.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 19, 2012

Today you should read: Nahum 1

Did you forget what you were reading today? When I opened up to Nahum 1, I thought I was reading directly from the Psalms! It’s amazing how poetic this prophet was in his first section. Verses 1-8 are focused on praising the Lord, and are nearly identical to how David wrote most of Israel’s songs. I would contend that this is one of the strongest descriptions in all of the Bible of God’s sovereignty and power. These are breathtaking verses:

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. (Nahum 1:2-5 ESV)

When I got farther into the chapter, I remembered where I was :-). Verses 9-15 are all about God’s forthcoming judgment on Ninevah, a stark contrast to the message of the book of Jonah. These verses also highlight the deliverance that awaited the people of Judah. In other words, the prophet got… well… prophetic.

In the comments section below, I would love for you to share what you thought of today’s chapter. But specifically, let’s all highlight how the opening 8 verses spoke to us. What attribute of God were you reminded of? How did this description bless you? Did you learn something new? How did it challenge your faith? How did it change the way you approached the Lord today?

If you are new to this prophet, as was I until a few years ago, this might help you. It is the “Introduction to Nahum” and “Key Themes” from one of my favorite tools, the ESV Study Bible. You’ll appreciate it if you are either (a) unfamiliar with the book, (b) a history buff, or (c) desire to know the overarching ideas that are prevalent in the text. Check out these excerpts:

Nahum was God’s messenger to announce the fall of Nineveh and the complete overthrow of Assyria. This coming judgment from the Lord was certain and irrevocable, as was Obadiah’s message concerning Edom. Nahum’s book is a sequel to, and a dramatic contrast with, the book of Jonah. Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was probably sometime in the first half of the eighth century b.c. He was to warn that large city of God’s impending judgment because of Nineveh’s wickedness. To Jonah’s dismay, the Ninevites heeded his message, repented, and were spared God’s judgment.

This repentance, however, did not last beyond 745 b.c., when Tiglath-pileser III (745–728/727) made his people the leading military power in the Near East. The vast Assyrian Empire was established by bloodshed and massacre, cruelty and torture, destruction, plundering, and exiling such as has seldom been seen in history. After several campaigns, Tiglath-pileser greatly enlarged the territory paying him homage with annexed land and vassal kingdoms, including the northern kingdom of Israel (reduced in size by the Assyrians) and the southern kingdom of Judah. Succeeding rulers maintained and expanded this empire. In 722 b.c. the Assyrians brought to an end the northern kingdom of Israel.

Sennacherib (reigned 704–681 b.c.) made Nineveh the capital of his kingdom (c. 700). His energetic building program included a splendid palace, water-supply and water-control projects, and a massive wall to surround the expanded city. Nineveh was destroyed in 612 b.c., never to be restored, marking the end of Assyria. A small remnant of Assyrians did escape the city, fleeing to Haran and making Ashur-uballit II “king of Assyria.” In 610 b.c., though, Haran fell to the Babylonians and their allies. Ashur-uballit retreated, but in 609 b.c., with Egyptian help, he tried to recapture Haran. That attempt failed, and Ashur-uballit and the Assyrians disappeared from history.

Key Themes
1. Nahum proclaims that the Lord is slow to anger and long-suffering, a jealous God (for his own honor, and for his people), wrathful and avenging (against his enemies), the one who controls nations and history, just, righteous, the majestic ruler of nature, good, merciful, gracious, loving, faithful, and the deliverer and protector of those who trust in him.

2. God had used Assyria as his scourge on unfaithful Israel (both northern and southern kingdoms), but he in turn brought well-deserved judgment on Assyria, according to his timetable and method.

3. Nineveh fell not because it was a large, wealthy, Gentile commercial city, but because it was a godless and idolatrous city, a city of violence, lust, greed.

4. The Lord of history is a “stronghold” for “those who take refuge in him” (1:7). He can handle any and all problems in their individual lives. He has defeated powers far greater than Assyria. He grants to his own the ultimate deliverance and vindication.

Posted by: Todd Thomas