Nahum 1:8-2:2 Our Responsibility to Spiritual Growth
In our continuing series on the book of Nahum, we want to learn from God’s word the importance of responsibility. Last week we looked at our responsibility toward God. This week, we will look at our responsibility to grow in our faith in God.
In this section, we find the prophet Nahum speaking to two different groups of people: Judah and Nineveh. Notice that there are clear, and different instructions given to these two groups. This leads to the first point:
PRINCIPLE #1: God speaks differently depending on our relationship.
Now God does not lie. But He sometimes tells individuals different instructions, blessings, or warnings, depending upon their point in their relationship with God.
To those who DISOBEY, He speaks a word of correction and judgment. Look at what God says to Nineveh:
(1:9-12a) – This is a word of judgment. God has looked at how the people of Nineveh treat God after He has given them grace.
In the time since Jonah, the nation of Assyria left God. They departed Him and started to stray their own way. They took bad counsel and decided that even though God had brought salvation in their past, they did not need Him now. How many of us have decided: “I don’t need God now. I needed Him when times got real tough, but now I am ok.”
(1:14) – This is a second word of judgment, and it is much more worse than the first. The first described a destruction of property. The second word described a destruction of a whole culture. The people of Nineveh and its culture would not survive.
In this case, God does more than allow judgment on the people. He takes away the ability to be fruitful. In some translations, that is exactly what it says. “Your name shall be perpetuated no longer” and “no more of your name shall be fruitful.” How many of us have decided to part from God so far, that He has decided to take His hand of protection and His hand of provision from us. Oh, God is there with us, but we are not as effective ministers of the Gospel. We do not see fruit from what God has given us to do.
(2:1) – Here God describes the fact that everything will be destroyed. This is a prediction of the destruction of the people of Assyria.
Notice the force of this verse. It is not just that Assyria will be destroyed. The impact of this verse is realized when the reader considers that it is God whom Assyria will face. These people will meet God face to face and be destroyed. It is better to be on the side of God’s face that receives His grace, than His wrath.
To those who OBEY, He speaks words of encouragement. Look at what God says to Judah:
Look at the words of encouragement in (1:12b-13). Here God is giving a word of encouragement. In this case, God says that He will protect Judah.
Judah was afflicted by Nineveh. God says that Judah will see no more hurt from this nation. Judah was under the cruel leadership of Nineveh. God says He will break the power of Assyria from the hold of Judah.
Have you been afflicted?
Have you been pressured by the yoke of sin, or some other burden that you need to be released from?
God will ease your affliction, and tear the yoke from you.
Sometimes in our trials we encounter, we wonder where God is, and how He will help us overcome these trials. Sometimes, He takes them away, as He does in this case. Sometimes, He lets us go through trials to experience new fresh faith in Him. Judah experienced both.
They experienced oppression by the nation of Assyria. God helped them through the prophets. But soon, He would one day take the oppressors away. When you have these times in which you experience these trials and difficulties, God gives you a second principle about our responsibility in discipleship:
PRINCIPLE #2: God expects more from His servants. (1:15)
Look at the challenges that God gives the people of Judah:
He gives the challenge of spreading peace. In our case, it is the challenge of spreading the gospel.
Paul used this verse, along with Isaiah 52:7 to issue the challenge to tell others about the salvation that comes in accepting Jesus Christ. The Gospel is good news, and this good news brings peace to our lives. Just as God would bring peace to their homes and families, the Gospel will bring peace to our homes and families as well. This challenge is part of our mission. We are all expected to tell others about Jesus Christ.
“Keeping your appointed feasts” was a commitment that every Jew had to make. There were several feasts throughout the year, in which the people would show their dedication and obedience to God.
Each and every one of us in this room has been given the commitment to:
Love God and love one another
Live out our lives as we grow to be more like Christ
Be on mission with Him
Fellowship with other believers even in this world.
The point is clear: We made a life-long commitment with God and we must strive to keep this commitment.
He gives the challenge of keeping our promises
There are times when we have told God we would do things for Him. These are not just the expectations from Scripture. These are the promises that we have privately and verbally made to God. When we have said to God “I will take time to worship you every day” – that is a vow. It is more than just a normal promise of doing something you say. This promise implies a deeper, stronger commitment. This is a promise that raises the standard in your walk with God.
The phrase “your word is your bond” applies here. Or when a person says: “A man of his word.” We do this not only with each other, but also with God. So, when we tell God a promise, we must keep it.
Right now, many people are making a promise to God for 40 days. This time called Lent, is a time of making promises to God that will help us grow in our relationship with Him. I hear many people talked about the fact that they will abstain from:
Spending too much money
Time on the computer
To me they seem childish. They seem like they do not really take this time seriously. This time of Lent, is a time when we separate ourselves from one thing that keeps away from God. We make a promise that instead of spending this time with our television, we will replace it with something that will grow us closer to God.
The prophet Nahum would say that if you are going to make this vow, make it a good one, or don’t do it at all. Make this time an effort to get to know God better.
This leads us to our last principle:
PRINCIPLE #3: God always helps you develop your relationship with Him: (2:2)
There is an expression in church circles: Our discipleship should more deep than it is wide. This means that most of the time, we spend a lot of time learning about God (that is wide), but little time growing with Him (this is deep.)
Notice that when God gives you the challenges in your life, He will give you more grace to cope with the difficulties that come with it.
In this case, the people of Judah were concerned that they would not be able to defeat Assyria. But God said that by His grace they would endure.
What challenges have you received in your life?
What obstacles have been placed that you need to overcome?
God has said in His word that He will not give you more than you can handle.
When God gives you a challenge, He helps you when you least expect it.
This is the issue of provision. There are many examples of this:
Noah was given an ark.
Abraham was given a ram.
Jonah was given a fish.
David was given a set of stones.
The people of Israel were given a Messiah.
There are many more examples. But the important thing to remember is this: the provision is not given to you to help get out of the trouble that you encounter. The provision is given so that you may trust God more during the trouble you encounter.
God restores what you think you lost.
The nation of Judah had thought they had lost their excellence. They thought they had lost it all. This is another classic case, of God letting you see bottom, so that you may look up to see Him. God has more in store for each and everyone of us. We are not meant to stay at the bottom for long. We need to remember that our destination is for higher, greater things than the struggles we may encounter now. But these struggles are here only to help us grow closer to God.
Unfortunately, many people when they first encounter trouble abandon God. Here, God is saying I have not forgotten you and I will help you to be restored to a place of beauty and glory. He says the same to you:
Depend on Me, and I will make you excellent.
Listen to Me, and I will bring you a better future.
- Nahum 1:9&10 – When God strikes, it is strikeout (thepauls.wordpress.com)