Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 18 December 18:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Nahum: https://youtu.be/Y30DanA5EhU
1. Nahum 1:2 — “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God.” Many act as if this statement only applies to the “Old Testament God.” However, James says, “Do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’”? (James 4:5) God does not change. It is important to understand that God’s jealousy is not the same as human jealousy which is condemned in Galatians 5:20. In human jealousy, people desire to selfishly protect what isn’t rightfully theirs at the expense of another. But God perfectly protects what is rightfully His to the benefit of all. God knows He is our life, and He intends for nothing to get between us and Him. Most people are sinfully jealous, but not always. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:2, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” Note that Paul’s motive was the same as God’s, to let nothing get between others and God, rather than himself. In His righteous jealousy, God hates our idols, those things we allow to distract us from Him. God will tear down our idols, often in painful ways, for our good and His glory – “When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him (Psalm 39:11).
2. Nahum 1:3 — “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.” God is patient but will also hold all accountable. Through grace, we have forgiveness of our sins, but grace is not an excuse to continue in sin. With His children, God punishes but does not condemn. God’s discipline is intended to draw us closer to Him, not further away, that we would truly know Him in unity and have the abundance of life. Be thankful for God’s discipline.
– Psalm 118:18 — The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
– Proverbs 3:11 — My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof,
– Proverbs 6:23 — For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
– Proverbs 12:1 — Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
– Proverbs 13:24 — Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
– Proverbs 19:18 — Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
– Proverbs 22:15 — Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
– 1 Corinthians 11:32 — But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
– Hebrews 12:6-11 — For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
3. Nahum 1:7, 8 – “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.”
– Jesus is no better friend but no worse enemy.
– The subject of Nahum’s prophecy is the approaching complete and final destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the great and at that time flourishing Assyrian empire. Nineveh was a city of vast extent, and was then the center of the civilization and commerce of the world, a “bloody city all full of lies and robbery” (Nahum 3:1), for it had robbed and plundered all the neighboring nations. It was strongly fortified on every side, bidding defiance to every enemy. Massive walls were eight miles in circumference. It had a water aqueduct, palaces and a library with 20,000 clay tablets, including accounts of a creation in Enuma Elish and a flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
– We just read about Nineveh in Jonah when God, in His mercy and grace, offers Nineveh a chance to repent and spares Nineveh from His wrath, much to the dismay of Jonah who had witnessed first-hand the evils of the Assyrian Empire. In Jonah we see that God is “slow to anger.” (Nahum 1:3). Yet, after their repentance and God’s forgiveness, Nineveh returns to its wicked ways, defying the mercy, grace, sovereignty, and holiness of God. Spiritually, they become adulterous, and now in Nahum God will reveal His wrath, something that isn’t talked much about anymore. (Nahum 3:4) Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Nineveh is about to learn this the hard way. In our forgiveness, we must be very cautious not to mock God and denigrate Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins by continuing in the sins for which we have been forgiven.
4. Nahum 1:15 — “Fulfill your vows.” God expects Christians to walk in complete integrity. Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. Most importantly, we must fulfill our vow to Him as His bride and walk in faithfulness and purity as His and His alone.
5. Nahum 2:3 – “The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished.” Nineveh had great pride in their riches and military might, and Nineveh put their trust in their own abilities. All fell before God’s anger. You have faith in whatever you trust, depend, and rely. Where is your faith really?
6. Nahum 2:13 — “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke….” The wicked may appear very powerful before God utterly destroys them. We cannot possibly comprehend how small mankind’s strength is before God.
7. Nahum 3:18 — “Your shepherds are asleep, O king of Assyria; your nobles slumber.” Wicked nations have leaders who are oblivious to God’s looming wrath, judgment, and destruction. The Assyrians did not believe in The One True God, but they were held accountable by Him nonetheless. God is still God whether one believes in Him or not, and God will act according to His will, not according to the way others think He should act.
8. Proverbs 18:1 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” You were created for relationships, to love God and others. This is your purpose. Isolation is a product of selfishness, fear, and pride. It is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Life is about relationships, and we have been given the mission of reconciliation. One way people deal with disagreeable people is to avoid them; Christians cannot do that.
9. Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” One of the most important habits of a reconciler is to seek first to understand before being understood. Whether the other person is right or wrong, the reconciler must truly understand what is behind their position. Why are they doing what they are doing? Only then is there hope to address the heart of the matter at hand. All relational problems are, at their core, spiritual problems, disunity with Jesus. The world hates those who are hateful. Christians see beyond the issues and seek to draw the hateful to Jesus in love.
10. Proverbs 18:10-12 — “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale. Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
– Nahum’s prophesy of Nineveh’s is particularly brutal, which is somewhat ironic since Nahum’s name means “The Lord comforts” or “comfort of the Lord.” However, God’s wrath would mean comfort to the victims of Nineveh – one of the reasons God hates sin is because it victimizes others. As you recall, Jonah warned Nineveh of God’s impending judgment, and they repented for a time. However, they soon returned to their evil ways. Jesus used Nineveh as an example to describe the destructiveness of returning to previously forgiven sin: “And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation (Matthew 12:45).” In fact, Nineveh had reached a place of no return: “Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal (Nahum 3:19).” Nahum’s prophesy mirrors the verses from Proverbs above concerning the Lord’s mercy and judgment: “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness (Nahum 1:7, 8).” Nineveh rejected the Lord and placed its trust in its own power and great riches. Nineveh became a victimizing city (Nahum 3:1), destroying lives through its wickedness; God would tolerate it no longer: “’I am against you,’ declares the Lord Almighty (Nahum 2:13).” Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, is an example of how God preserves a nation through the influence of His people (Jonah in this case) and judges a nation after patient warnings. What can we learn from the story of Nineveh?
11. Proverbs 18 – Notice how much the Bible has to say about the words that come out of your mouth. Do your words project the character of Jesus? Your words will reveal whether you are selfish or selfless.
12. Revelation 14:1 — “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” God’s people are marked with the Father’s name. They are the property of the Father, and God does not surrender His property.
13. Revelation 14:4 — “It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” God’s people follow Jesus wherever He goes. Look and see — everyone in the Bible who was used mightily by God had to leave their planned course to go where God led them, an unplanned path with a destination that had not yet been revealed to them. This is the walk of faith. Without faith to walk into the unknown because God told you to, it is impossible to please God.
14. Revelation 14:4, 7, 12 — “It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes…. Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water…. Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” God’s sheep follow their Shepherd, Jesus, ‘wherever he goes,’ and glorify God, not simply by believing in Jesus but rather by believing AND keeping “the commandments of God” with saintly endurance, even unto death. This is genuine worship. True faith is obedient faith. We cannot obey both the Truth and unrighteousness. We are called to obey Christ “with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart,” and to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.” Even our thought-life must be obedient. The fact that we fall down doesn’t give us an excuse not to get up.
– John 3:36 — Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
– Acts 5:29 — But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
– Acts 5:32 — And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
– Romans 2:8 — but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
– Romans 6:12 — Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
– Romans 6:16 — Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
– 2 Corinthians 10:5 — We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
– Galatians 5:7 — You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
– Ephesians 6:1 — Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
– Ephesians 6:5 — Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,
– Philippians 2:12 — Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
– Colossians 3:20 — Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
– Colossians 3:22 — Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
– 2 Thessalonians 1:8 — in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:14 — If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.
– Hebrews 5:9 — And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
– Hebrews 11:8 — By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
– 1 Peter 4:17 — For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
– 1 John 5:2 — By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.
15. Revelation 14:5 — “Their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.” Again, notice how much the Bible has to say about the words that come out of your mouth.
16. Revelation 14:6 — “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.” All people will have a chance to hear the Gospel.
17. Revelation 14:7, 8 — “And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ Another angel, a second, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.’”
– It is never too late to Fear the Lord and worship Him.
– Fearing God and giving Him glory involves controlling your passions and urges to sin and obeying Him rather than submitting to temptation.
18. Revelation 14:9, 10 — “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath.” Every person is either marked by the beast or by the Father. There is no middle ground. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23) “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)
19. Revelation 14:12, 13 — “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” The Christian life requires endurance in obedience through suffering. Life is not about temporary comforts; it is about fidelity to Jesus. The lovingly obedient are blessed and find rest.
20. Revelation 14:12, 13 – “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” God’s people will patiently obey God’s commands and remain faithful to Jesus while the whole world turns to evil and persecutes them. Many will die for the Lord and will be called blessed.
21. Revelation 14:19 — “So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” In God’s time, He will separate His true followers from the wicked, including those who pretend to be Christians but really are not.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 Dec 18: Follow Jesus today wherever He goes. (Revelation 14:4)