June 14 – 18, 2021

June 14 – 18, 2021

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Monday

Nahum 1-3

Nahum is the seventh of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through prophets. His word came to them through visions, dreams, oracles, parables, burdens, and the like. Most of these books are written to the people of Israel and Judah; but Nahum, Obadiah and Jonah are more concerned with other nations.

Do you believe God is always good and always just?  The evil that we see in ourselves and in the world matters to God! He hates it. We know this because of what God did in Nineveh (destroyed in 612 BC) and through the sacrifice of His precious son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18). The book of Nahum comforts us today because God’s ultimate justice always wins! 

Nahum’s singular focus on the impending judgment of Nineveh, capital city of Assyria, offers a continuation of the story that began in Jonah. Sometime around 760 BC, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach repentance and hope to the Assyrian people, a message they heard and obeyed—at least for a time. One hundred years later, during the time of Nahum, the Assyrians had returned to the  brutal oppressive ways, conquering the northern kingdom of Israel, and lording their power over Judah in the south (2 Kings 17:1-6; 18:13-19:37). Nahum reminds the people that God’s justice is always right and always sure. And should God grant mercy for a time, that good gift will not compromise the LORD’s ultimate sense of justice for all in the end.

Nahum’s name means “comfort” or “compassion,” and his message of Assyria’s certain and utter destruction would comfort the people of Judah who feared and suffered because of Assyria. Nahum’s message was given to God’s people during the darkest period in Judah’s history to that point, a time filled with idolatry of all kinds in a nation that had turned its back on God. The LORD’s willingness to send Nahum into such a hopeless situation evidences His unrelenting and overwhelming grace.

Questions

What do you believe God is doing about the evil in the world today? How have you experienced the mercy and grace of God?

Prayers—For His Children

For His Children (FHC) is a Christ-centered ministry providing quality care to vulnerable children in Ecuador who have experienced abandonment, abuse, or neglect. Praise God that His promise is Jeremiah 29:11-13 and that He has a hope and a future for these
children. Pray that He would continue to weave together His beautiful tapestry of each of their stories.

 

Tuesday

Nahum 1:1-15; Psalm 31

A prophecy concerning Nineveh may seem to be irrelevant for the twenty-first century Christian to consider, but as the capital of the Assyrian empire, they were an aggressive superpower that was a constant threat and danger to God’s people. Nineveh was founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12) and was located at the crucial commercial junction of trade routes crossing the Tigris River on the great roadway between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. Along with wealth came a long history of violence, idolatry, terror and conflicts as the long line of Assyrians kings pursued imperialist domination.

One hundred years before Nahum’s ministry, God sent Jonah to Nineveh in 760 BC with a message of God’s judgment upon the people of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least, believed and repented (Jonah 3:5). Jonah’s angry complaints to God declaring, “I knew that you are merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Jonah 4:2b) are now used by Nahum (1:2-3) to herald Nineveh’s doom because God never lets the guilty go unpunished.

Nahum’s message of God’s vengeance and omnipotence are stressed by the complete devastation that is coming. His power is demonstrated by tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes. He can dry up the sea, wither the vegetation, and destroy everything on earth. God is the true superpower (1:4-6).

But His wrath and power are tempered by His goodness (1:7). God is aware of those who trust in Him and will preserve them. Nineveh had made war on God’s people, and, therefore, made war against God (1:9-11).

In 1:11-15, Nahum alternates between the destruction of Nineveh and the restoration of Judah to show a contrast. The one who was
on top will be brought down. Those on the bottom will be restored. This is the way God always operates. Jesus declared, “The last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). God, who sees the heart, will reward accordingly.

“But I trust in You, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15a)

Questions

How can Nahum’s declaration of God’s unchanging character help you to trust God amid the chaos and evil that persists in the world today? What attributes of God do you find most encouraging from this chapter and why?

Prayers—For His Children

Pray that the staff of FHC would continue in openness of heart towards God and that they would work together in joy, inclusivity, generosity, sharing, and support. Please pray that the staff could care for the children in such a way that cultivates their unique abilities and beauty as God’s young image bearers.

 

Wednesday

Nahum 2:1-13

Nahum assumes the role of watchman in the tower, and he announces the coming of Nineveh’s enemies and the reason why. That reason is to restore Judah (God’s people).

Nahum’s descriptions of the battle picture the bloodshed that was coming. I imagine Nahum trembled at each detail God gave him of the death and destruction that was to come despite their being the enemy. Everyone is posed for battle, but it is to no avail. Nineveh cannot stand before God’s wrath. The Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians are God’s instrument, and He opens the way for them. Fallen Nineveh then is plundered—all the wealth taken in all her conquests are now taken from her.

The image of the lion is often used by the Assyrians in their art and architecture. They acted like lions as they ruthlessly stalked their prey and devoured their captives. “Where is the lion’s den now?” Nahum asks as the city is destroyed. “Where is all your prey, the treasures you took from others?” Gone forever! God declares to Nineveh, “I am your enemy!” (2:13). Assyria’s time was up and there is no hope for her.

Today God does not leave us to face the battle against evil  alone. Paul in Ephesians says it well: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (6:10-19).

God has given us powerful armor to protect us and the sword of the Spirit, the Scriptures, to enable us to fight back. We need to prepare ourselves for the fight with truth, grace, and faith so that in the heat of battle, we have the resources we need to fight effectively.

Questions

What are you battling these days that are better left for God? Are you fighting effectively? Why or why not?

Prayers—For His Children

Please pray that those at FHC would be encouraged in the truth that Jesus Christ has identified with us. When they feel despondent, depressed, or hopeless, pray that God’s promises restore and strengthen their minds and hearts. Praise God that He offers us so many promises in His Word and we are always welcomed to come to Him in our need.

 

Thursday

Nahum 3:1-19; Psalm 9

When Abraham was faced with the coming judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, he declared, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” God is patient, but there comes a time when His hand of judgment falls. “You have rebuked the nations; you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever” (Psalm 9:5). Nahum gives three reasons why Nineveh deserved to be judged.

The first is their acts of ruthless bloodshed and terror (3:1-3). Assyrians were clever diplomats who lied to other nations and then broke their promises and destroyed them. They slaughtered people without regard to age or sex to display power and provoke fear. The shedding of innocent blood is a serious sin that God notes, remembers, and judges (Deuteronomy 19:11-13; Psalm 106:38; Proverbs 6:16-17; Isaiah 59:7).

The second reason is their idolatry (3:4-7). Nahum used the image of the prostitute to describe Assyrians as those who abandoned truth (remember Jonah) and gave themselves wholly to sin to gain wealth, pleasure, and power. Consider that the chief deity of Nineveh was Ishtar, the goddess of sexual passion, fertility, and war; and recognize that their worship of lust, greed, and violence led to great evil. People become like the god that they worship (Psalm 115:8).

The third reason Nahum gives to justify Nineveh’s destruction was her pride and self-confidence (3:8-19). For example, Nahum declared the once proud conquering Assyrian army as drunkards too weak to fight; their once impregnable defenses being like ripe figs that easily fall; her overconfident leadership once a consuming swarm now like inert locusts frightened off. Nineveh’s sleeping shepherds, gaping wounds that will not heal, and lack of allies reveal a diminished capital.

Like the book of Jonah, Nahum ends with a question: “for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” (v. 19). Nahum emphasizes the same truth Amos declared: God punishes cruel nations that follow inhumane policies and brutal practices (Amos 1-2). Whether it’s practicing genocide, exploiting the poor, supporting slavery, or failing to provide for the necessities of life, they are known by God and will be judged. Amen.

Questions

What do you think about when you consider the judgments of God and their results? How do Nahum’s words challenge or encourage you to trust God as the just and all-wise God?

Prayers—For His Children

Pray that those at FHC would continue to glorify the Father more and more in their lives. Pray that He would give them open, trusting, and receptive minds, like that of a child. Pray for a blessing over all the children entrusted to FHC staff and that they would feel safe and loved.

 

Friday

Psalm 33

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

Has there ever been a nation as blessed by God as the United States? Pastors and historians may argue about the intentions of the founding fathers, but one thing is certain: God has given us incredible wealth, freedom, and protection throughout our history.

Considering the message preached by Nahum declaring, describing, and defending Nineveh’s doom, we must think about the question: What are we doing with God’s blessings? I am guilty with many believers of enjoying the benefits of God’s blessings today and not investing them in the future: ministry, sharing the gospel, social justice, etc. The Bible tells us God blessed Israel so that they would be a blessing to the nations of the world (Genesis 12:1-20). When Israel welcomed foreigners and supported widows and orphans, God continued to shower them with riches and freedom.

Today Christians in our land have the unprecedented opportunity to rise up and make a difference. Some of us may choose to invest our freedom by getting active in political issues or choose issues of social justice process (BLM is a significant social political issue today) or missions or global warming as the goals of our attention. However, God leads us; we can be certain of this: God always leads the rich to help the poor, directs the free to reach out to the oppressed, and empowers the wise to give hope to those who are confused.

We have amazing riches in this country of ours, riches that come from the hand of God. We need to recognize the source of all our blessings and commit ourselves to use every resource to make a difference for Christ’s sake. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Questions

What are some blessings we enjoy that other nations do not? What are some specific ways you can invest your riches and freedom to make a difference in others’ lives?

Prayers—For His Children

Pray that the Lord would continue to open doors at FHC to care for vulnerable children and offer hope, security, and safety to each child. The children’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are great. May their spirits be turned to His purposes, love, and plan for each of their lives. Pray that God would extend His protective wings over the children and draw their hearts and minds to Him.

 

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