Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort October 20, 2014

Nahum 1:1-7 Giving Comfort

The oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.” (Nahum 1:1, HCSB)

The chapter opens by describing an oracle to a city and nation. Nahum – whose name means God’s comfort, is given a vision. He is given a picture of God’s comfort. Although we may look at these verses and think they are not comforting, I assure you God is a comforting God. When we look our situation, we think about how big the problems are, and how difficult it will be to deal with them. We need to be reminded that God’s comfort is larger than our circumstances. God is in the business of giving comfort to His people.

When we compare the two prophets that spoke to the nation of Assyria in the capital of Nineveh, we see some interesting things.1 

God is the same throughout these two events. He uses two different prophets with two different messages and reaches the nation. The nation has changed over time. They have gone from an obedient to a disobedient nation. However, God never changed. His characteristics are the same.

If we look into the character of God, we will see a God who really cares for us. How does He do this? Let me share with you EIGHT characteristics of a comforting God. 

EIGHT CHARACTERISTICS  OF A COMFORTING GOD

God is a comforting God. He expresses that comfort in a variety of ways. These eight characteristics describe the way God comforts His people during a difficult time. You will remember Jonah was sent to Ninevah and he was given a message to tell the people to repent. Even though Jonah didn’t like the job, nor the audience, He obeyed God. The people repented for a time.

However, years have passed and the nation has fallen back into sin. So God sends another prophet to the same town and same nation to tell them that there will be a judgment. You may be thinking: What does this have to do with God comforting me? The first five characteristics illustrate how God comforts us by the way He acts toward our enemies and our circumstances. The last two characteristics illustrate how God comforts me in the time of my difficulties. In other words, the first five deal with the circumstances. The last two deal with how He comforts me personally.

Let’s look at these characteristics and see how God comforts us.

1. God is zealous.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

Modern translations use the word jealous. However, that is not what the word really means. God is really zealous in His comfort, not jealous. Unlike jealousy on the human plane, which unfortunately involves all the wrong attitudes (suspicion, distrust, rivalry), God’s jealousy shows itself as an eager zealousness to maintain the integrity of His own character and truth.2 Therefore, because God is a comforting God, He is jealous.

Here is a way of looking at the jealousy of God:

You see, when I get jealous it is because I am worried someone is going to take something or someone from me. Not so with God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are completely content in and of themselves. God isn’t saying, “If I lose Jon, My whole world will collapse and I’ll be miserable.” No, God is all-sufficient. He has need of nothing. This means His love for me is not based upon my satisfying Him or my fulfilling a void in His life. Therefore, because He needs nothing, God’s jealousy is vastly different from man’s.

God is jealous not because He’s worried about His loss—but because He’s concerned about our hurt. Think of it this way: If we were at the zoo and a cobra slithered out of its cage and was face to face with my kids, I’d be very jealous for them. It’s not that I would worry that the cobra would steal them away from me or that they’d like the snake better than me. No, I would simply be concerned that the cobra would hurt them.

That’s the kind of jealousy God has. “Kids,” He says, “I’m not concerned that you’ll hurt Me but that you’ll be hurt in leaving Me. The cobra is sure to strike, so I will deal with those things that will hurt or harm you. I will take vengeance on My enemies in order to protect My children.”3

2. God is avenging.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

God is zealous for His people and He exacts vengeance against His enemies. He works for His people and He works against His enemies.

God avenges His people in the sense that He champions their cause against their enemies. He does so because He is jealous or protective of His people. While God is avenging for or on behalf of His people, He is avenging against His adversaries.4

I realize that this may sound like God does not care. However, the caring of God is to and through His people. Yes, God loves the world. However, He loves the world only when they have come to Christ.

The movie The Avengers are about superheroes who correct a wrong that has happened. A man is killed in the line of duty by the villain Loki. Iron Man says: We may not be able to protect the Earth, but we sure will be able to avenge it.

To avenge means to inflict harm in return. It is usually associated with the other person who has done harm on the defenseless or weak. God is the One who works for the weak.

3. God is “wrathful.” (Ba’al)

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against His foes; He is furious with His enemies.” (Nahum 1:2, HCSB)

The word for “fierce in wrath” is the Ba’al. This word means Lord. He is the master of everyone. So when we talk about God is fierce in wrath, we mean that He is the God we should submit to. The reason is because He has the power to avenge. He expresses His power of “angry” or fierce mastery.

Master of the house gets angry when one of the tenants does something wrong and the master is willing to punish the tenant. God has that capability. He uses it on people who don’t listen to Him.

If you are a parent, you don’t like it when the children don’t listen to you.

If you are manager, you don’t like it when the workers don’t listen to you.

If you are the owner, you don’t like it when the renters don’t listen to you.

If you are God, you don’t like it when the people who You created don’t listen to you.

That is wrathful. It does not mean however, that God blows His top. Thank God that God doesn’t blow His top. He is slow to anger.

4. God is slow to anger.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

Haven’t you found that when your temper boils over, you always end up in hot water? I have! God is not like that. Over and over again, our Father identifies Himself as One who is slow to anger5

5. God is very powerful.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

God is slow to anger and yet He is powerful. Isn’t that a great thing to know? Many people have great power and are slow to anger. They don’t keep their anger under control. However, God is able to keep His anger under control until it is appropriate. When He does get angry, He is very powerful and He is quick.

6. God is quick

The idea here is that God is quick with His judgment. God doesn’t wait too long to punish those who have wrong Him and His people.

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.” (Revelation 6:9–11, HCSB)

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB)

It took Him one hundred years to get around to executing judgment against this city, and He is just and righteous in doing it. He is not going to let the wicked off. Never will He let the wicked off unless they turn to Him. Unless they accept Christ as their Savior because He paid the penalty for their sins, they will have to be judged for their sins. God is not going to let them off—He is just and righteous.6

Notice the speed of the whirlwind and the storm. See the picture of clouds rolling under the feet of God. God is a God of justice. He will punish the guilty. It will be swifter than they think.

God’s righteousness demands that the guilt resulting from sin cannot just be overlooked (Prov. 11:21; Hab. 1:13). The “wages” for sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and God cannot leave the guilty unpunished and still be righteous (Exod. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 7:10; Nah. 1:3). The only way God can forgive sin in us is to impute that sin to Christ and punish it in Him:7

God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26, HCSB)

God therefore has to avenge for the righteous. He has to punish the unrighteous. He is quick in His judgment of the guilty. However, in order to forgive the sin that prevents us from connecting with God, God made a way to “impute” that sin. He punished His Son instead of us.

Now the choice is on us to accept that forgiveness or to receive the punishment that we are due. Because God is powerful, He could choose to punish us. However, because He is also caring, He wants us to come to Him. Don’t look at this as a God who doesn’t care. He cares. The problem is that we don’t care to come to Him when it comes to our sin problem. It is because He is slow to anger and great in power that we have the opportunity to come to Him now.

In this chapter, we see three different ways in which God expresses His power. These three areas also reveal how God cares.

HOW GOD EXPRESSES HIS POWER

God expresses His power over nature

He rebukes the sea so that it dries up, and He makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither; even the flower of Lebanon withers.” (Nahum 1:4, HCSB)

The mountains quake before Him, and the hills melt; the earth trembles at His presence— the world and all who live in it.” (Nahum 1:5, HCSB)

God  expresses His power over His enemies

Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, even rocks are shattered before Him.” (Nahum 1:6, HCSB)

God expresses His power through His goodness to His people

God doesn’t just express His anger over nature or His enemies. God also expresses His power through His goodness. Notice that in Nahum 1:7, God expresses His power through His goodness. 

7. God is good.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

When we encounter trouble, He becomes the stronghold on which we can anchor our soul. We can lean on Him.
When we are responsible with our relationship, He recognizes us. This means that He makes the distinction between who is wicked and who is just. He will not judge harshly those who are responsible with their relationship with God. Notice the relationship is a two-way relationship. God has made the way possible through Jesus Christ. But our relationship can grow through trust and obedience. When we encounter difficulties in our life, we can know for certain that God will provide.
8

By His very nature, God is good.

God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.” (Psalm 73:1, HCSB)

This verse reminds me of a verse in Psalm 107 when the Psalmist is reflecting on the goodness of God. God is good because of how He has helped and protected His people from the enemies. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe” (Psalm 107:1–2, HCSB)

8. God is caring

The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7, HCSB)

God is good and He cares for us. The word for “cares” means that He knows us. The point is that because He knows us. He is able to care for our deepest needs. He can comfort us because He knows us.

casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, HCSB)

We can come to Him in prayer because we know that He cares for us. We can take shelter in Him because we know that He cares for us. We know He is good and He will help us.

Don’t think you have troubles simply because you’re a Christian. The unbeliever has just as many difficulties as you do. The difference is, you have access to the Problem Solver. You can turn to the Lord, the “stronghold in the day of trouble”—but he doesn’t know he can.9

God is good and comforts you. However, He also expects you to give comfort to other people. Remember that the first characteristics deal with how God takes care of our circumstances? That is why God never calls us to be “wrathful” or jealous or avenging. Only God can be this way. However, He does expect us to share how God has used His comforting characteristics and to share them with people in their time of need. It should be part of our testimony. When we share how God has been comforting to us, we are revealing God’s goodness and His caring nature through us.

1 Paul G. Apple, When God Is Your Enemy – Commentary on the Book of Nahum. November, 2006. Commentary series hosted at http://www.bibleoutlines.com. PDF found at: https://sites.google.com/a/solidrockmd.org/www/home/free-bible-commentaries. Accessed on 15 October 2014.

2 Walter C. Kaiser and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, vol. 23, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1992), 107.

3 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

4 Elliott E. Johnson, “Nahum,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1497.

5 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 848.

6 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Nahum/Habakkuk), electronic ed., vol. 30 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 23.

7 E. Ray Clendenen, “Guilt,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 693.

8 Jim Erwin, “Nahum 1:1-7 Our Responsibility to God.” Sermon. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2013/08/10/nahum-11-7-our-responsibility-to-god/. Accessed on 18 October 2014.

9 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 849.

#theheartofgod, #theminorprophets, #givingcomfort,

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