“For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried.” (Nahum 1:10)
Three more analogies are used in this short verse to illustrate the utter futility of opposing The Almighty.
First, even at their best their opposition is pitiful. They see themselves as nearly impregnable, their fortifications as formidable, their safety a forgone conclusion. Nahum says they are as easy to overcome as walking through some briars. Perhaps a slight annoyance for a moment, but absolutely no impedance. This is how much trouble any of God’s enemies are for Him to defeat…
“The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand.” (Micah 7:4)
“like drunkards as they drink”
A drunk who has had his fill is not hard to defeat in any encounter. He is not even able to stand, much less defend himself. Utterly defenseless, that is the assessment of all who oppose even the servants of God!
“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:2-4)
“they are consumed like stubble fully dried.”
Evil men are like dry brambles. No one wants to be around them but other brambles because they are so irritating and useless. Avoided, left to their own devises, this tangle of sinners support each other and congratulate themselves on invincibility. Until God acts. Then they are like the dry brush before the flames driven by California’s Santa Anna winds!
Oh you who boast against the Lord Almighty, against our great God and Savior Jesus, against The Holy Spirit of God, against His Revealed Word, against His Chosen Israel, against His Church… and you who should know better, who claim to belong to Him, consider what you are doing!
“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24)
To his chosen ones he says “Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.” (Deuteronomy 9:3)
“Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:13-14)
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
One reason many are unemployed or are in jobs they absolutely hate is that they do not have marketable skills and refuse to develop any. To be paid for your labor you must be worth much more than the cost to hire you. Whoever hires an employee pays more than the take home pay and must make back at least all costs plus a little more or the whole process is not worth the effort.
For an employer to pay you $15 for an hour’s work (not time, but work – we’ll talk about the difference another time) you must be worth more than $15 per hour. To be paid $15 million you must produce more than $15 million in value. This is simple economics and has nothing whatsoever to do with your intrinsic value as a human being.
Do you want to earn more money? Make yourself worth more. Get better than you are now at what you do for a living. Add another skill to you list of talents. It is not your employer’s job to make you better at your job or to pay you more money without you providing enough value to cover his costs of employing you. If you want more, be worth more.
“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” (Proverbs 22:29, ESV)
Paraphrase that verse with me. “Look at the man (or woman) who has put in the time and effort to develop his skills. This person will have great opportunities to be employed, because of those skills, by someone who is willing and able to pay handsomely for such superb talent. The one who has not bothered to improve a marketable skill will simply not be in demand.”
“What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.” (Nahum 1:9)
Plan what you want. Plot and strategize as you will. It will do you no good. When God decides to destroy, destruction comes sure and complete. When the Almighty knocks you down you do not get back up to cause trouble again.
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalms 2:1-4)
Speaking of Judah we read “I looked, and behold, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
For thus says the LORD, “The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.” (Jeremiah 4:25-27)
When God promises judgment then restoration, count on it.
When God promises destruction without restoration, as appears to be the case so far in Nahum, count on it.
Whenever the church takes a hit the world pulls out their prewritten funeral announcement. But God is her protector. He uses these hits for His own purpose, to purge her and to strengthen her. This we know.
When the godless take a hit we often do not know if it is God allowing them to reap the fruit of their rebellion or it is His divine active judgment. Will it lead to death or to repentance? We are wise to hold out tongues until God makes it clear. What we are sure of is that in the salvation of sinners, God is glorified. And in the destruction of sinners, God is glorified. We also know that until God makes it clear to the persons who are dead in sin, they cannot see the cause-and-effect relationship between their sin and their pain. Pray for those headed for destruction because in their sin-filled hearts they plot all day long how to thwart God and get away with their sin. “What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.” (Nahum 1:9)
One of the traps of our digital age is the sheer volume of messages we see telling us how unsatisfied we should feel with our current situation in life. Look how happy those people are. A wise person knows those posts and images are not the full story. A wise person knows what photo editing is and what creative storytelling is. A wise person knows that advertising is designed to make us unhappy until we part with our money to buy the thing being offered. A wise person knows they are being played. But maybe…
Its that maybe that causes us to break the tenth commandment – you shall not covet other people’s stuff. Being satisfied with our current situation does not mean we can’t work to improve our circumstance. Quite the contrary. Work diligently to provide well for your family. But do first things first. Work and save. Spend less than you earn. Impatience will sabotage you. Plan for the future but concentrate on doing today’s work today.
“Prepare your work outside; (this assumed you were a self employed farmer) get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that (you can) build your (dream) house.” (Proverbs 24:27)
“But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.” (Nahum 1:8)
In this metaphorical and highly illustrative language Nahum warns God’s enemies of the utter futility of resisting His judgment. Their destruction will be as futile to defend against as a tidal wave. They will be pursued by destruction as relentlessly as night pursues day.
Men can defend themselves against men. Armies can defend themselves against armies. But who could defend himself against the Almighty if He is bent on destruction? He is the ultimate immovable object. He is the ultimate unstoppable force. This realization is rightly a reason for terror to those who choose to be His enemies instead of His friends. Yet this same description of our Savior’s omnipotence is our reason for the greatest comfort.
Commenting on this passage, Calvin points out “we see that when destruction comes on God’s enemies it is not incremental, but is swift and sure.” While corrective punishment is meted out in carefully measure doses, punishment in judgment is as subtle as a tidal wave, and as swift and complete as night encompasses day in a single hour. “As soon as God’s wrath shall break forth or come upon the Assyrians, it will be over, for consummation will immediately follow; by inundation, He passing through, will make a consummation in her place.”
It is reportedly common, when we see these old Hebrew writings, for the passage to only use pronouns throughout most of the literature, then only at the end to define who the passage is specifically about later. This is mentioned to caution care as we interpret and apply scripture. God may use this to make many portions of scripture applicable to many different people in different times because, being no respecter of persons, He often deals with rebellious nation after rebellious nation in very similar ways. However, the specifics of one nation in one time may rightly call for different treatment than another. God surely has destroyed entire nations in a single blast, as He promised to do here through Nahum. He can just as well allow nations to slowly eat themselves alive, whimpering into forgotten history. We are to be wise in application to today’s headlines. As God has in the past destroyed nations in sudden overwhelming floods of justice, He is perfectly justified to do so again. But He is not required to do so, nor if He decides to do so must He hurry or delay on our own estimation of proper timing.
Back to Nahum, their devastation would come suddenly, like a flood, and would be as total and long-lasting as the night.
A second century Greek (secular) author reports “Nineveh has already been destroyed, and there is no visage of it remaining, nor can you say where formerly where it was.”
Yes, the same verses from yesterday, bit with a different unit of measurement. “You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small.” (Deuteronomy 25:14 ESV)
Consider that you have a job selling your time to an employer. Your price is $15 per hour of work. When you sell your hour of work how much money do you expect? I know the math is tough but you expect $15.
How much work should the buyer expect? Right, one hour’s worth. Not 3/4 of an hour. Not 7/8 of an hour. The deal was $15 for one hour’s worth of work. Evidently dishonesty in financial transactions was as much of a problem in bible times as it is today. We call it getting to work exactly on time but needing to get that first cup of coffe and hanging up our coats on the boss’s time, or taking a 40 minute lunch instead of the allotted 30 minutes, or knocking off a half hour early to clean up and get stuff put away when 10 minutes is all it would take. God calls it something else…
“A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 25:15-16 ESV)
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. (Nahum 1:7, ESV)
In verse 6 Nahum exclaims “who can stand before, or in the face of, his indignation?” This is a rhetorical question. In verse 7 “Yet Jehovah is good!” Though he is the destroyer of all the strongholds of those who oppose him, God himself is and impenetrable stronghold for those who trust him. Furthermore, God does know precisely and personally those who trust him!
As Calvin puts it, “these two verses together show us that God is hard and severe toward refractory man, and that he is merciful and kind to the teachable and the obedient. Not that God changes his nature, or that he puts on various forms, but because he treats men according to their disposition.”
No one can stand against God’s wrath. However, all are offered an alternative which is gentle, mild, merciful, and an indispensable help to the meek who are faithful to him.
After reading verse 6 some will doubtlessly claimed that God is mean and that God is harsh and that God is hateful. So God has made Nahum point out that just the opposite is true, God is good! His wrath for vengeance against evil doers never overcomes his merciful love, compassion, and goodness. His tender compassion never overcomes his wrath for holy vengeance. He is always perfectly the protector of the faithful and the destroyer of the hateful. Even in the day when the faithful are distressed and the hateful seem to prosper, remember Nahum 1:7 – “God is good!”.
If the all knowing, all wise, all powerful was not also the all good, he would have no trouble being a cosmic bully who reeks destruction in fits of rage, (or even indiscriminately). On the other hand, if he showed unjust mercy of the lawless who refuse to obey and who refuse to repent, he would be unjust.
But God is good. And since he is able to deal out perfect justice he is compelled to do so because he is good. It is his very nature, and we are to imitate him when possible.
“It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice.” (Proverbs 18:5, ESV)
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15, ESV)
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9 ESV)
God is faithful to his word. And Nahum says “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”
“You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small.” (Deuteronomy 25:14 ESV)
Continue reading “A Pound is a Pound! Heir Conditioning 018”
Imagine that you have a side business selling homemade spaghetti sauce. Your price is $4 per quart jar of sauce. When you sell your jar of sauce, how much money do you expect? I know the math is tough, but you expect $4.
Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. (Nahum 1:6, ESV)
What a defender! What an enemy! Which would you choose to have him as, defender or enemy? It seems obvious which position would be the most desirable.
But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10, ESV) His fury is poured out like fire, like molten metal, like lava. There is no resisting it.
In the King James we see “rocks thrown down”. Like projectiles, is my first thought. However Janison, Faust, Brown translate it more closely to “rocks burnt asunder” , The usual effect of volcanic fire. Even the rocks cannot withstand the fire of God. What chance do humans have? These commentators also report, I did not know this, that Hannibal demolished otherwise impassable and immovable rocks from his Alpine path to make a passage for his troops by use of what I call “fire-fire.”
I recently watched a television series that followed a small group of men who were gemstone hunters. Each episode these men traveled to a different remote area of the world where different gemstones were found. They helped the locals, usually very small poor communities or families, develop their mining process in return for receiving first opportunity to buy the gems produced.
In one episode, I do not remember where or which gym they were searching for, the locals had dug out by hand a pit approximately 50 feet deep. At the bottom of the pit they had uncovered a solid vein of quartz which contained the sought after gems. Their next problem was how to break open these solid seams of quartz with rudimentary handed tools.
The procedure they have used for years they called fire-fire. After excavating the soil and rocks above the vein they built a huge bonfire which they kept going for most of a day. This was somewhat effective at times in cracking the quartz a bit. Then, while the pit and quartz vein was still very hot they poured huge amounts of water into the pit.
The fire caused the crystals to expand. Then the water caused this vein of nearly impervious quartz to suddenly contract and fracture.
The procedure did work. However, it worked so well that not only were they able to get to the gemstones, the gemstones themselves also cracked, in many cases, so small as to be nearly unusable. Fire-fire worked. It worked too well. Fire-fire reduced even quartz and gemstones to gravel.
This gives me a whole new appreciation for the verse that says our God is a consuming fire!
“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain (a way his enemies described themselves) declares the LORD, which destroys the whole earth; I will stretch out my hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and make you a burnt mountain. No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:25, ESV)
Many people who know anything about the Bible see work as part of the curse that God pronounced on creation as a result of Adam’s sin. “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17, ESV)
‘You see’, they say, ‘work is a curse.’ Is that what it says? Or does it say that even our work is now cursed?
Before the fall and the curse God gave Adam work… “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15, ESV)
Work, useful tasks to expend our time and talent on, is not a curse. Work is a blessing. Something useful to do is a blessing. Because of sin it is also less productive, many times hard, sometimes boring, and often dreaded. But that’s the way with sin. It makes righteous behavior look like hard, unreasonable, boring drudgery to be avoided.
Are you going to listen to selfishness and sin, calling work a curse to be shunned and hated? Or are you going to agree with God’s word and call work, something useful to do in this sin-cursed world, a blessing from God that he has promised to reward?
Blessing or curse? Your attitude. Your self-talk. Your choice.