The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016
The Divine Warrior – Nahum (1)
The little book of Nahum is scarcely known in the church today. But its position in the Book of the Twelve gives it a higher profile than it might have by itself. In the first place it deals with God's judgment on Nineveh. The same Nineveh we met in Jonah a couple of books back. There the entire city repented of its sinfulness and God relented of his intended judgment. Here, however, the city has apparently relapsed into its idolatry and paganism. And judgment has come gain!
God the enacter of judgment is portrayed as a Divine Warrior. Nahum gives this idea a sharp profile. It's that I want to focus on today. An excerpt from Tremper Longman III will be our reflection piece.
“The divine warrior theme in the New Testament grows out of the motif as we have seen it in the Old. At the end of the Old Testament period the prophets looked forward to the coming of a mighty warlike deliverer (Zech.14 ) who would deliver the people of Israel out of their oppression. John the Baptist expected the imminent arrival of such a Messiah: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt.3:7-10). When Jesus appeared, however, he did not match John's expectations. Instead of bringing an immediate and violent judgment, Jesus healed the sick and exorcised demons. Later, when John was in prison, he began to doubt Jesus' identity; so John sent two of his followers to question Jesus (Matt.11:1-19). Jesus responded with more healings and exorcisms. By his actions, Jesus was letting John know that he was the divine warrior whom John expected. The warfare, however, was more intense than John had imagined. Jesus waged holy war, not against the flesh-and-blood enemies of Israel, but against Satan himself. This warfare culminated in the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension (Eph.4:7-13; Col.2:13-16), at which time Jesus defeated Satan.
“While the victory was won on the cross, the warfare will not be complete until the end of time. Thus, the church struggles even today against Satan and evil. As the Old Testament people were commanded to wage war against the Canaanites, so our mandate is to resist the devil (Eph.6:10-20).
“Nahum reveals God as a warrior who fights for his people. As New Testament Christians, we recognize that Jesus Christ empowers the church to fight evil today. When we read the Book of Nahum in conjunction with the Book of Revelation, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is coming again at the end of time to put an end to all evil, whether spiritual or human (Rev. 19:11-21).
Tremper Longman III