Friday after the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Nahum 1:15—3:19 (NKJV)
1:15 Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.
2:1 He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.
2 For the LORD will restore the excellence of Jacob like the excellence of Israel, for the emptiers have emptied them out and ruined their vine branches.
3 The shields of his mighty men are made red, the valiant men are in scarlet. The chariots come with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the spears are brandished.
4 The chariots rage in the streets, they jostle one another in the broad roads; They seem like torches, they run like lightning.
5 He remembers his nobles; They stumble in their walk; They make haste to her walls, and the defense is prepared.
6 The gates of the rivers are opened, and the palace is dissolved.
7 It is decreed: She shall be led away captive, She shall be brought up; And her maidservants shall lead her as with the voice of doves, beating their breasts.
8 Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, now they flee away. “Halt! Halt!” they cry; But no one turns back.
9 Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize.
10 She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, and all their faces are drained of color.
11 Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion walked, the lioness and lion’s cub, and no one made them afraid?
12 The lion tore in pieces enough for his cubs, killed for his lionesses, filled his caves with prey, and his dens with flesh.
13 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts, “I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more.”
3:1 Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs.
2 The noise of a whip and the noise of rattling wheels, of galloping horses, of clattering chariots!
3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, a great number of bodies, countless corpses—they stumble over the corpses—
4 because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, the mistress of sorceries, who sells nations through her harlotries, and families through her sorceries.
5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts; “I will lift your skirts over your face, I will show the nations your nakedness, and the kingdoms your shame.
6 “I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle.
7 “It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?”
8 Are you better than No Amon that was situated by the River, that had the waters around her, whose rampart was the sea, whose wall was the sea?
9 Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was boundless; Put and Lubim were your helpers.
10 Yet she was carried away, she went into captivity; Her young children also were dashed to pieces at the head of every street; They cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.
11 You also will be drunk; You will be hidden; You also will seek refuge from the enemy.
12 All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs: If they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater.
13 Surely, your people in your midst are women! The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies; Fire shall devour the bars of your gates.
14 Draw your water for the siege! Fortify your strongholds! Go into the clay and tread the mortar! Make strong the brick kiln!
15 There the fire will devour you, the sword will cut you off; It will eat you up like a locust. Make yourself many—like the locust! Make yourself many—like the swarming locusts!
16 You have multiplied your merchants more than the stars of heaven. The locust plunders and flies away.
17 Your commanders are like swarming locusts, and your generals like great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges on a cold day; When the sun rises they flee away, and the place where they are is not known.
18 Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; Your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them.
19 Your injury has no healing, your wound is severe. All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?
Today’s opening verse presents two terms which became central in the New Testament: good news (the Gospel), as news of God’s gracious action which delivers people from a desperate situation; and peace (removal of judgment) in the sense of divinely willed and divinely created soundness, wholeness, health, well-being. Nahum’s words therefore point to the Christ, whose coming meant peace between man and God.
The keeping of feasts and fulfilling of vows mentioned in the second half of this verse must be understood in a biblical (Christological) sense. These will be offering praise and thanksgiving to the God Who has cut off the wicked oppressor. The feasts of Israel commemorate God’s saving deeds and the fulfilling of a vow is the expression of thanksgiving to God. Our worship, tithes, and offerings are likewise not to be seen as something we do to earn God’s favor; but instead a joyful reaction to the overwhelming grace He has shown in all that He has already done, and continues to do, for us.
The rest of Nahum focuses on the miserable state of those who resist and deny the Lord and His gracious good news of peace. Their situation is one of panic and desperation as an unnamed enemy comes upon them with great speed and force which they cannot defend against. The poetic verses make it clear that God is in ultimate control of this attacker who overwhelms and destroys the great city of Nineveh (which is representative of all who reject God and plague His people)
We pray: May we always in faith cling to the good news of peace won for us by Christ, and thus never be found outside its gracious promise. Amen.