"Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder- no end to the prey!" - Nahum 3:1
This is the message that Jonah wanted to preach. Instead he got to preach a message of repentance to the bloody city which was full of lies and plunder.
From man's raw perspective (and in these cases, the perspective of Israel in particular) the message of Jonah was good news for the Ninevites and bad news for Israel. In contrast, the book of Nahum was good news (finally) for Israel and bad news for the Ninevites. There are a couple of applications that we can make.
First, God is sovereign and his timing is not ours. When we speak of his sovereignty we mean that because he is outside of time and sees all, there is no escaping his judgment. This also brings to mind a New Testament truth: that God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. We know from Jonah that the Ninevites did repent, to the praise of His glorious grace! From Nahum we learn that he will ultimately bring justice about, but that it may not be in our time or generation. Jonah was long-gone, and all the people that were alive in his day, both in Israel AND in Nineveh. So, don't despair thinking that God doesn't notice - He does, and he will not be mocked. His timing is different than ours.
Secondly, let's look at two messengers. Both Jonah and Nahum are prophets, called to deliver God's message. They bear different messages, but more importantly, it is not their right or privilege to change the message. Jonah fought it at first, unsuccessfully, and ultimately delivered the message that God called him to, albeit tersely. The application is this: we are called to deliver God's message, no matter how we personally feel about it or the recipients. This is a sword that cuts two ways. On the one hand, we must give the good news of God's offer of salvation from sin to all without exception. It is not for us to decide who should and should not hear this message. On the other hand, we also cannot change the message. Just as Jonah preached repentance, so Nahum preached wrath and destruction. While we are not Israel or preaching to specific cities or nations, part of the message we preach is that God will ultimately judge the wicked and there is a day coming in which he will pour out his wrath against the wicked. Therefore, let us share the entire message that God has given us, for through it He has ordained to bring salvation to all who are His!
"If you are looking for an excuse not to follow Jesus you will always find one!"
That is an application from Matthew 8:21-22 where one of Jesus' disciples came to him and said "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus' response to him was a command: Follow me! Followed by an explanation: "let the dead bury their own dead." In that day, and still in some cultures in the present, this phrase does not necessarily mean that someone has just died or is in the last moments of their life. Rather, it means that eventually they would die, and in a family-centered culture, an adult child or relative would stay until the parent passed away, thus helping them in their family trade and securing an inheritance of their own.
In other words, the disciple was really saying this: "Someday, after my father has died, I will come back and follow you." He was making an excuse. Many people do this in life today. They like the idea of what Christ offers but don't like the requirements. They would rather go and live their life however they choose and someday, if they can time it just right, at the very last second, would grasp after him.
There will never be a lack of things to entice you away, whether they be family, promotions, pleasures, or the like. If you look for an excuse, it will always be there. However, the call of Christ is right now: Follow him! Believe on Him! It is worth the cost.
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." ~ Psalm 118:24
Do you realize that this verse is true every day? God has made each day; each day is a gift from his good hand.
Therefore we are to:
1) Acknowledge that he is our Creator and Sustainer.
2) Respond appropriately. The psalmist calls us to rejoice and be glad in this fact. We don't get upset, but rather recognize the goodness of God in his work!
Today is the first day of the new week. It is the day that Christians have assembled together for corporate worship since the Church was established. What better way to rejoice and be glad in the work of God than to join with other believers for the purpose of corporate worship through the singing of songs and hymns and spiritual songs together, through the preaching of the Word, through prayer, and through fellowship?
In the words of liturgy: "it is right to give him thanks and praise!"
"O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you." ~2 Chronicles 14:11
Israel has been divided for only a short time. Asa, who uttered this prayer, is the son of Abijah. It was Abijah who fought against Jereboam and the northern 10 tribes of Israel in 2 Chron. 13 and was victorious even though they were outnumbered 2:1. The reason Abijah was victorious in chapter 13 was because of his reliance upon God and his recognition that God can bring about victory in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds. This steadfast faith was passed on to Asa who now demonstrates it here with this prayer as he faces a million man army from Ethiopia.
As you continue to read this passage you will find that not only did the Lord grant victory, but a stunning victory! It wasn't Pyrrhic, at a great loss to Asa's side, but they were unscathed, and the Ethiopians, in turn, were thoroughly defeated. We read that "none remained alive, for they were broken before the LORD and his army" (2 Chron. 14:13).
True is the proverb that was recorded only a few generations prior to this event: "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD" (Prov. 21:31).
To the Christian reading this who knows that they are not the recipients of the Davidic Covenant, what should we learn from this? The most stunning aspect of this chapter is the full and complete dependence upon and faith in God, as demonstrated by the prayer. Indeed, we might ask, "do your prayers reflect such faith in God and reliance upon him?" And if they do not, why not? Do you believe that there is none like God? That he alone is God almighty, ruler of heaven and earth? That doesn't change from the days of Israel to now (cf. Heb. 13:8). Do you believe that he hears the prayers of the righteous? We are comforted with the fact that he indeed does! (cf. Prov. 15:29).
O, that our faith might be increased! O, that our prayers might reflect eternal truth and rightly portray the attributes of God. O, that we might not rely upon our own wisdom and strength, but rather acknowledge our weakness and dependence upon God who helps the weak.