Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nahum 3:1-7 (Part 3)

1 Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder—no end to the prey! 2 The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot! 3 Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over the bodies! 4 And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms. 5 Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame. 6 I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. 7 And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her? Where shall I seek comforters for you?

5.-7 There can be no more frightening words than, “‘I am against you,’ declares the LORD of Hosts.” This is sort of the inverse of Romans 8:31 (If God be for us, who can be against us). We could indeed ask the question, “Who can be for you, and what good would that do anyway, if God be against you? It is noteworthy that God uses the term Lord of hosts in this passage. Hosts, in biblical terms means ‘armies.’ Whether we understand this to mean that God has His own armies of heaven (which would be an obvious formality since He accomplishes anything He wills simply by willing it) or whether it is intended to express God’s sovereignty over the affairs of men (by applying said sovereignty to armies – which represent the strength of the nations) is immaterial. God either has His own army or He uses men’s armies to accomplish His plans for the betterment of His covenant people, whether it be to chastise them for disobedience of to rescue them from enemies once the discipline has had the desired effect.

We mentioned before how some of the imagery of Chapter 2 (stripping the queen and her handmaidens) was particularly poignant for cultures were women were secluded. This irony is heightened here. Nakedness in Scripture is a constant metaphor for shame. The actual word ‘nakedness’ is mentioned 40 times in the Pentateuch alone, and in each occasion the ideas of shame, weakness and vulnerability are implied, if not directly asserted. Nakedness is mentioned 14 more times in the rest of the Old Testament and the same implications are present every time. (Isaiah 47:3 - Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen) The obvious implication is that the hidden inner corruption of Nineveh will be seen by her attackers, giving them a much-needed edge. Think about the sense of disappointment you feel when you find out that someone you have admired is guilty of some gross sin…

Verses 6-7 should remind us of the false beauty of the world. The only things it offers as enticements are things which are intentionally designed to appeal to the proclivities of our sinful nature. Strip back all the pomp and circumstance, all the gilding and decoration, and the world is a seething mass of vile, degenerate, iniquitous, God-hating wickedness and depravity. It is worse than a gold-plated pile of manure. The appeal of the world to us is an indication of how deep the personal depravity of each and every one of us runs. It should serve as a reminder, not of how evil the world is (which is no doubt true), but of how evil we are to be attracted by such filth and degradation.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are what defile a person. Matthew 15:19-20a NASB

One thinks of Deuteronomy 4:5-8 which says, "See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?" 

If God's people only kept in view their blessedness as the people of the one true God, how great His mercy is, and how deep was the sin and misery out of which He saved them, the world would never have any appeal whatsoever.

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