Thursday, April 4, 2013

Nahum 2:3-6 (Part 1)

The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished. The chariots race madly through the streets; they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning. He remembers his officers; they stumble as they go, they hasten to the wall; the siege tower is set up. The river gates are opened; the palace melts away; (Nahum 2:3-6 ESV)

In the following study, I would like to do two things: answer the question: “Where is Christ in Nahum?” And secondly try to derive some sort of practical lesson from the message of this prophecy. First of all, I will be the first to admit that finding Christ in this book is no easy task. But we know that Jesus himself told us that he is the central focus of all of Scripture, therefore we should not doubt that he is here. I do not wish to be reaching at fictions of my own imagination nor grasping at straws. But neither do I wish to ignore Christ’s own declarations about himself. As Augustine said, it is better to find Christ in Scripture when He is not there then to not find Him when He is there.

The book of Nahum contains no direct Messianic prophecies. By direct Messianic prophecies, I am, of course, referring to prophecies regarding Christ’s First Advent. The expectations of judgment against Nineveh and of salvation for God’s faithful people are things which are ultimately fulfilled by Christ. Jesus and his apostles declared salvation for God’s people and judgment against his enemies. In fact, Christ began His judgment and salvation in His First Advent (Jn. 5:22-30). The spiritual battle in which the church is engaged (Mat. 16:18; Eph. 6:10-17) continues this process to this day. When Christ returns in glory he will destroy all opposing powers and hand over the kingdom to his Father “so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28) Furthermore, Paul cites Nahum 1:15 (and its twin passage, Isaiah 52:7) as fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham to include the Gentiles in the Covenant of Grace (Romans 10:15).

The message of judgment is a fairly central idea in Scripture. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith 33.3, “Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity (Luke 21:27-28; Rom. 8:23-25; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; 2 Thess. 1:5-7; 2 Pet. 3:11, 14)”.

If we take the time to work through these ideas we will see the applicability of the book to our lives, as Christ will defeat all His enemies.  “Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.” (WSC, 26).  We must remember that these enemies are spiritual (Eph. 6:12).  While it is true that Christ has already defeated them (Col. 2:14, 15), there yet remains a day when that defeat will be ultimately completed (1 Cor. 15:25-26; Rev. 20:7-15).  We live in the already-not yet tension of Christ’s kingdom; He is restraining them and will one day completely defeat them.  We experience battles and trials in varying degrees in life, but Christ will defeat them and bring His kingdom in its fullness!

The 2nd thing which I proposed to do was to derive a biblically balanced practical application of the prophecy before us. To do so, I’d like to ask the following question: “What inspiring example/warning example does the Holy Spirit set before me?  How can I obtain/avoid this?” (Thanks to rev. Arnould T. Vergunst of the Reformed Congregations of New Zealand for the study bookmark that contains this question.)

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