Day 271: Nahum 1-3; Prophecy against Nineveh

It seemingly is a contradiction when God raises up a power in the world to use as a tool of His judgment only to bring forth a prophecy like this one about their coming demise.  If this is true, the whole book and prophecy of Nahum is a contradiction in terms, seeing God raise a nation only to smash it to pieces.  This isn’t, however, the first time that we’ve heard a prophecy or a reasoning for impending doom of Nineveh or the nation of Assyria which it was the capitol of.  And God has a perfectly good reason as well, one that has been cited for His own people’s impending judgment as well.  The simple fact is that God will not stand for any nation, no matter their purpose, who takes pride in their own physical strength, does evil before the Lord, and oppresses others.

Ultimately, God is working His will in all things.  History not some string of random events but rather the continuing revelation of God as He works His will and reveals Himself to His people.  Often times His workings are mysterious to us and we don’t understand why we go through what we go through.  When we look back on this though and remember the whole narrative of all that happened with the people of Israel, we can see how God is working to judge the Hebrews, but also make it known that He is God and He is almighty and in control.  No nation rises or falls without the will of God.  No military or political power can overpower the most high.  Whether He raises up a nation to be a tool of His work or He brings them low for their disobedience, God is the one that makes it happen; the one who ordains it all.

I do wonder about our own nation sometimes when I read things like this.  I don’t believe that Nahum was secretly referring to Washington or anything like that, but I do think that the words we read here do speak to our situation as a nation.  Personally, I don’t believe that the U.S. is a “Christian nation” in the way that Iran is an “Islamic” nation.  But it is abundantly clear that we have been blessed as a nation being arguably the strongest nation in the world just about every aspect that might involve a sort of “power” or “might” category.  Yet so often we act as though this was completely the result of our own works and our own ingenuity.  There is no nation or authority under heaven that is not raised up, or lowered by God.  This means that, no matter what we have accomplished as a nation, it is God who has blessed us and raised us up.  Are we going to glorify Him for that?  Or are we going to rest on our own works and “strength?”  It seems to me, as we continue in the prophets that we could learn something from these nations… that we need to truly acknowledge the true authority in this world… and it certainly isn’t us.



Day 269: Micah 1-4; Human plans and God's plans

The prophet Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, call though to be a voice to the common people of Judah rather than in the courts of the king.  Yet as we listen and read carefully the text of this Prophet, we can see that there are marked similarities between the words of Micah and the words of Isaiah, ultimately culminating in the grand vision of “the Day of the Lord” that we had read in Isaiah 2 and read again here in Micah 4.  In fact, this is almost a verbatim description of the vision that Isaiah saw and recorded in Isaiah 2.  He again casts a vision of the reality that awaits us in the last days, where the “mountain of the Lord” will be established as chief of the mountains.  For the people of this time, the imagery of a mountain being established above all the other mountains would show the true superiority of God’s reign over that of other earthly kingdoms and even the gods of the world that would have been worshiped on the mountains.  The Mountain of the Lord would be the chief mountain and it would be one that people would want to go to.  Why?  Because it is from there that the Word of the Lord would go out.  This place is a place of teaching and of transformation, but also a place of justice, righteousness and peace.

I think, in the interest of current social events, the vision that we see here of the people is most interesting.  The people desire to go to the house of the Lord and one of the results is this idea that there will be no more war or struggle, neither will there be any sort of training for war.  This is a rather anti-militaristic image that we get in which all people will dwell together in unity, not simply because they are forced to, but because they want to.  Indeed it isn’t because their weapons have been taken away that they cannot do battle, but because the weapons of the world have been transformed by their wielders into objects of care and provision.  I wonder what this looks like in the light of the discussion on gun control that we are having in this country right now.  I wonder how something like this would affect the ongoing discussions about Syria, Iran, and North Korea.  Does it make sense to destroy their weapons?  Does it make sense to take them away?

So often we focus on the removal of harmful things from bad people as a way of generating peace.  If we go in and get Chemical Weapons or take away the guns of criminals it’ll bring peace to the world.  Perhaps if we make it harder to get guns then there will be less violence.  While I’m not necessarily against these things in principle, they largely ignore the image of Shalom that is set up for us in the prophets.  Indeed, I am not advocating for more or less gun laws, more or less weapons, or to let crazed dictators use weapons of mass destruction indiscriminately; but laws and military action to not get at the root of the problem that we face in this world when it comes to violence.  The problem is sin; the corruption of God’s design for creation.

Why do people engage in such hostile actions?  Why is it that some people seem to just be prone towards violence?  The easy answer, of course, is sin.  Corruption.  Evil.  We can blame any host of things from government institutions that keeps people in certain social classes to lack of decent parenting.  We can put together programs to educate and train people for skills in the labor force.  We can build cities and countries, even and entire world of people that have more than enough of everything, something we are absolutely capable of doing, but the problem will not be solved.  Sin is still present.  As Micah is getting to in his prophecy, there is simply no substitute for the righteousness that God calls us to… something we cannot obtain for ourselves no matter how hard we try.  Though Micah didn’t put a name on it, He is referencing the coming of Jesus, the forgiveness of sin in His blood, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit which works to draw people out of a life of darkness and sin and into the light of Christ’s righteousness, justice, mercy and grace.