December 17

Nahum 1:1–3:19

We don’t know much about the prophet Nahum other than the fact that he prophesied against Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. He was from the city of Elkosh. Since there were several cities with that name, we’re not sure as to which one it was, but it is quite possible, he was from the Elkosh located IN Assyria, meaning that Nahum had been carried away captive from Israel. Another theory is that Nahum was from the area of Capernaum in Galilee for Capernaum means, “city of Nahum.”

150 years earlier Jonah was sent to Nineveh, and the city repented at his preaching. But that moral “revival” didn’t last long – the Assyrians were a cruel and vicious people. They would maim those they carried away captive. They would impale the leaders, behead the people and lay those heads in mounds in front of the city gates. The Assyrians had carried Israel away captive in 722 B.C., and it was now time for them to pay for their cruelties.

Nahum 1:2 (NKJV) “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.”

God is not only gentle, He is just. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind, He rebukes the sea, the mountains melt, the earth burns, what nation can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the fierceness of His anger, Nahum asks (Nahum 1:6).

Nahum presents to us the Biblical balance of our glorious God:

Nahum 1:7–8 (NKJV) “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. 8 But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies.”

For those who trust the LORD, He is working everything out for good (Romans 8:28) (that would be Israel) and prayerfully that’s us! Trust Him my friend, trust Him in the day of trouble, He will make it a day of Triumph!

But to His enemies, those who refuse to yield to God and His grace – justice will be served and rather than having Him as Savior, they will face Him as Judge. This was the case with Nineveh and the entire nation of Assyria.

Not only would God judge Assyria, He would restore Jacob (Nahum 1:15; 2:2).

Nahum 2:2 (NLT) “Even though the destroyer has destroyed Judah, the LORD will restore its honor. Israel’s vine has been stripped of branches, but he will restore its splendor.”

The Babylonians would conquer Ninevah to such an extent that many critics of the Bible questioned the very existence of this city. It wasn’t until ruins were uncovered by British Archaeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard, that its existence was confirmed outside the Bible. It WAS at one time a great city, but it suffered great judgment!

Her valiant men would die, her nobles would be no more, the palace dissolved, it was now her turn to be led away captive. All her treasures would be taken, hearts would melt, knees would shake in immeasurable fear – the pain would pierce on every side.

I don’t understand why anyone would fight God, for who can win if God is against them, if God is their enemy? The Assyrians actually plotted evil agains the LORD (Nahum 1:11) and therefore had Him as their enemy!

Nahum 2:13 (NLT) “I am your enemy!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Your chariots will soon go up in smoke. Your young men will be killed in battle. Never again will you plunder conquered nations. The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.”

The city would be filled with blood (Nahum 3:1) the noise of whips, galloping horses, clattering chariots – so many dead bodies they would stumble over the corpses. A complete collapse of Assyria who at one time was so dominant and powerful, that they actually sold families and nations (Nahum 3:4).

Every world power is deceived into thinking they’re different, that they’ll never be overthrown, but just like every other world power before her, Assyria’s day would come. The description of her judgment at the hands of the Babylonians is heartbreaking, but it resembles the very things Assyria would do whenever they conquered cities and nations. Children dashed to pieces, women’s skirts lifted and ravished, men killed, sold, and so fearful that it was as if there were only women left (Nahum 3:13).

In the end, this once brave and powerful nation was reduced to the status of grasshoppers who hopped away in hiding, not to be found. It was a fatal blow, and all the people who had been tortured by the Assyrians rejoiced at their judgment.

Nahum 3:19 (NLT) “There is no healing for your wound; your injury is fatal. All who hear of your destruction will clap their hands for joy. Where can anyone be found who has not suffered from your continual cruelty?”

Revelation 8:1-13

The judgments described during the Tribulation Period will increase in frequency and intensity. We’ve seen the 7 seal judgments, next is the 7 trumpet judgments which give way to the 7 bowl judgments. When He opened the 7th seal, there was silence in heaven for a half an hour (this is significant – see Psalm 78:6-8; Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7; 2:13). 

Warren Wiersbe comments, “The silence in heaven is the lull before the storm. Even the heavenly hosts stop their worship as they contemplate the awesome judgments about to fall.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the picture of prayer that is painted in Revelation 8:3-5. We visualize the prayers rising as incense before God, He takes every single one of them in. This is something seen in the tabernacle and later the temple at the altar of incense located in the Holy Place. Here we see the answer to prayer as fire from the altar thrown down to the earth from heaven…and there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. You might remember John’s first glimpse of God’s throne in:

Revelation 4:5a, (NKJV) “And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.” 

God is about to answer one of the prayers we’ve been praying since Jesus gave us the model prayer, “…Thy Kingdom come…”

Some might look at these judgments and see them symbolically, but I think that for the most part, all this will happen literally. It’s interesting to note that five of these catastrophes were part of the plagues used by God to set Israel free in the great Exodus. In Exodus the water was turned to blood, and here, after the first angel sounded, the hail, is mixed and mingled with blood.

1/3 of the trees and all of the grass is gone; 1/3 perish in the ocean, of both man and sea creatures; 1/3 of the fresh water deposits are struck – many more die; then the sun, the moon, and the stars are struck, giving way to more and more darkness. Taken literally these appear to be some sort of meteor showers – that we might describe as heavenly “smart bombs.” Scientists tell us that meteors typically travel at 11,000 MPH and explode upon impact due to the fact that they carry kinetic energy equivalent to its mass in TNT. We have the prophecy of: 

Joel 2:30–31 (NKJV) “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

During this time God will be wooing people to Himself and warning them of the judgment to come. We even read of angels flying throughout the first heaven (earth’s atmosphere), crying out for all to hear, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth.” There are only two times a word is “tri-peated” in the Bible, holy, holy, holy, and woe, woe, woe. This is a heavy, heavy, heavy warning! The book of Isaiah has an interesting prophecy about this time, and how God would protect His people during this period. We read in: 

Isaiah 26:20–21 (NKJV) “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.”

Psalm 136:1-26

Gratitude and Mercy flow through this Psalm.

“Oh give thanks…” how we are to forever and always be grateful to God!

Grateful that His mercy endures forever. Grateful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I deserve Hell. I deserve death. I deserve punishment. I deserve the loss of all that is good, but – His mercy endures forever.

As we read through this Psalm, the history of the world, and the history of Israel – 4 things stand out. We should be grateful to God for His:

1. Creation

2. Redemption

3. Provision

4. Salvation

Psalms 136:23-24 (NKJV) “Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever.”

He remembered me in my lowly state, and saved me from my enemies (the world, the flesh, the devil – from the power and penalty of sin).

My life will forever therefore be summarized as a life of gratitude…why? His mercy endures forever.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NKJV) “Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me; 9 Lest I be full and deny You, and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.”

Apparently these are prayer requests from Agur to God.

#1 That he would be distanced from deception; that any and all lies would be far, far away from finding a home in his heart. We’ve discussed many times how lies are the language of Lucifer, the dialect of the Devil, it’s all Satan has to say.

Jesus’ words to the bulk of the religious leaders highlight this truth about the devil’s lies:

John 8:44 (NKJV) “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

Agur words it in such a way, “Father, free me of falsehood before I die.” It tells me that he’s desperate, that’s he’s struggled with it, as we all do, that lies frequently, easily find their way into our minds and a home in our hearts – it’s a huge issue that the enemy uses to control our culture, to even rob Christians of our joy for the journey.

May God set us free from the Enemies’ web of lies!

#2 The second request of Agur, knowing all too well his own weakness and wickedness, was asking that he be neither poor nor rich. He gives noble reasons for his request in v. 9.

Agur knew the truth Jesus spoke in: 

Matthew 19:23 (NKJV) “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

Agur knew the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches could choke the word and waste his life (Matthew 13:22). It’s fairly easy to forget God when you have everything else going for you. You might want to consider that before you buy your next lottery ticket or notice how green the grass is on the other side of the fence.

And don’t you also love the honesty of Agur? How he knew his own weakness/wickedness that if he couldn’t make ends meet, that if he didn’t have a job to put food on the table, he might end up stealing and dealing in dishonest ways? What a dishonor this would be to God considering the fact that everyone knew he was a believer.

“Isn’t that guy a Christian? Look at what he’s doing, what a shame, I knew there wasn’t any power in that name.”

Very practical wisdom for all of us! Great prayer requests!

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