Sunday, December 17, 2017

December 17: Nahum 1 – 3; Psalm 136; Proverbs 30:7-9; Revelation 8



Overview

            Nahum: The visions of Nahum against Nineveh. God is jealous, vengeful, and wrathful against his adversaries. However, he is slow to anger and has great power. He won’t let the guilty get away with anything. He controls all aspects of nature from wind to earthquakes. No one can stand before his anger. He is also good and a fortress for those who take refuge in him. But he will wipe out his enemies.
            He will destroy whatever you plan to do against him. From Nineveh one has plotted against the Lord. He will break Nineveh’s allies so they will not afflict Judah again. Nineveh will no longer have descendants and God will wipe out all their idols. On the mountains comes one bringing good news to Judah so they can celebrate their festivals. Nineveh won’t bother them again.
             Nineveh must brace itself for battle. The Lord will restore Jacob even though it has been laid waste. Soldiers dressed in red and scarlet and chariots will swarm the streets. Though the guards rush to the wall, the river will cause the palace to collapse. The people will be captured and exiled.
            The enemy plunders all the silver, gold, and supplies. Nineveh had been like a lion that killed its prey and fed its family. But where are they now? The Lord is against the city. The sword will kill the lions. No one will hear from them again.
            It was a city of blood, lies, plunder, and victims. But after the battle there are only piles of bodies. It is because of their idolatry, sorceries, prostitution, and witchcraft. The Lord will expose all the ugliness and make them a spectacle.
            They are no better than Cush, Egypt, Put, and Libya, countries that were also taken into exile and children killed. Nineveh will face the same thing. They will shake with fear before the enemy. All the work to prepare for siege and still they will be overthrown. The merchants, guards, officials are all like locust that fly away and no one knows where they are.
            Everyone who hears the news about Assyria and its king will rejoice. They have all felt his cruelty.
            Psalm: We are to give thanks to the Lord. We do this because he is good and his love is steadfast, forever it doesn’t change. We give thanks because he is the one and only God and it can be seen in the way he has created all things. It can be seen in the way he established Israel, brought them out of Egypt, gave them a land, and rescued them from his foes.
            Proverbs: Agur asks two things of the Lord before he dies. He wants to be kept from being a liar and to be neither rich nor poor. If rich, he’s afraid he will ignore God and if poor, to steal and therefore dishonor God.
            Revelation: The Lamb opens the seventh seal and there is silence in heaven for 30 minutes. Then seven angels that stand before God take seven trumpets. Another angel takes a censor with incense that is the prayers of the saints. He filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. Then there was lightning, thunder, and earthquakes.
            The first angel blew his trumpet resulting in hail and blood thrown on the earth. It burned up one third of the vegetation on the earth. The second angel blew his trumpet and a blazing mountain was thrown in the ocean and it turned to blood. One third of marine animals died and one third of the ships were destroyed. The third angel blew his trumpet and a burning star fell on the fresh water turning a third of the waters poisonous. The star was called Wormwood. Many people died from the water. The fourth angel blew his trumpet and one third of the sun, moon, and stars turned dark. A third of the day and night lost their light.
            An eagle then flew through the midheavens warning those who live on the earth with three “woes” because of the next three trumpets.

What Stood Out

            Nahum: “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” (Nah 1:3).
            Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 136:1).
            Proverbs: “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread” (Prov 30:8 NIV).
            Revelation: “And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel” (Rev 8:3-4).

Insight

            Nahum: Nahum establishes God’s attributes before he puts forth what God is going to do to Nineveh. It is important to view God from his perspective and not ours. We must look at him with balance and not prejudice. Those who only read Nahum 1:2 will come away with a different picture of God than those who only read verse Nahum 1:7. We can’t even read about these attributes in the first chapter of Nahum and get a complete understanding of God. It takes the whole Bible to begin to understand him. When we get close, we then realize how little we know about the Lord. As in Revelation, the attributes of God precede the condemnation of evil and the descriptions of their punishment. It is only when we have a more complete picture of God’s holiness, goodness, justice, mercy, anger, and all his other attributes can we understand why evil must be ended, whether it is in the short-term like Nineveh, or in finality as in Revelation.
            Psalm: If we really understood the impact of Psalm 136:1, we would be in a very good spiritual place. Saying that God is good is an understatement that can be seen when we are thankful for all he has done in our lives and the lives of every other person in the world. It can be seen in what he did for Israel, but especially in our salvation through Jesus. It should make us thankful because his love doesn’t change. That love that he worked in Jesus to forgive us came while we were his enemies. He still loved us even then! He will always love us.
            Proverbs: Agur asks for some very important things that are very wise for anyone’s life. The first goes a long way in godly living and that is to keep from lying. The best way to do that is to have truth in our hearts. Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). He is full of truth (John 1:14). Truth comes from Jesus (John 1:17). When we abide in Jesus, we will know the truth and it sets us free (John 8:31-31). Jesus came to bear witness of the truth (John 18:37).
            The second thing he asks for is also important and that is to be content with worldly possessions. Having too much is a real roadblock to knowing God (Mark 10:25). Having too little is not the real problem, but it is wanting more and therefore sinning in order to get more. Paul showed what real contentment is like and that including plenty, in need, and includes being hungry (Phil 4:11-12).
            Revelation: In chapter 6, the focus of tribulation was on wars and the probable results being famine and deaths. These are all the destructions caused by our own evils. After the interlude of chapter 7, the seventh seal is opened. The astonishing thing is that it results in silence in heaven. Until now, we seen singing and praises to God. Now it all stops. No one moves, no one utters a single sound. The suspense must have been killing John. Silence when we expect something is alarming. Listen to the radio and just a few seconds of dead air gets your attention.
            When our attention is fixed on the Lord he continues with his plan. But before the plan starts, we see our prayers being offered to the Lord by an angel. Every prayer we’ve uttered for the Lord to come and administer justice is about to be answered. Some of these prayers reach back into antiquity. The cries against the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah reached the Lord and I imagine are still stored waiting to be added to the censor. Every prayer that we have said asking the Lord to return and the ones of the future are about to be answered.
            Instead of disasters caused by human sinfulness, we will now see supernatural disasters. All speculations aside, there is no way we can attribute these to natural causes. Some sound like asteroids colliding with the earth but lightning mingled with blood? Just how does a third of the day not have sun or a third of the night not have light? The descriptions and the results can only be attributed to God.
            This is the message of this chapter. Justice is coming from God by his power and his design. He is not even using human agencies as he did when he punished Nineveh, Judah, Assyria, Israel, Babylon, Edom, etc. These are all delivered by the angels who stand before God.
            We need to give him the glory for it all and we need to make sure our lives are right before him.

Application

             I like what Agur had to say about being content and even more what Paul did to expand on it. Paul suffered more than we can imagine but was content with serving the Lord. If we face global disasters or smaller one, or if everything is coming up roses, I want to be able to know the Lord and be content with his plan for me and the world.

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