For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 3
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 2; 1 John 2; Nahum 1; Luke 17
FROM THE TWO DESIGNATED PASSAGES, I shall reflect on two faces of judgment.
From Nahum 1, we learn that sometimes God’s promise of judgment on the triumphant perpetrators of evil can be an encouragement. That is a summary of the theme of this book. Nahum is called to pronounce judgment on Assyria and its capital Nineveh, but unlike Jonah he is not called to proclaim this message to the Assyrians, but to the covenant people of God. That is seen, for instance, in the way Nahum initially talks about Nineveh in the third person (1:8). When Nineveh is directly addressed (e.g., 1:11), that is merely part of the rhetoric of the oracle.
At a guess, Nahum delivered these words from the Lord sometime after 722 B.C., when Assyria destroyed Samaria, the capital city of Israel, and transported many of its leading citizens. The ten northern tribes effectively ceased to exist as a nation. But the faithful believers among those left behind and among those carried off into exile, not to mention the watching Israelites in the southern kingdom of Judah, needed to know that God does not stop reigning, or holding people to account, just because he uses them to chasten his people (cf. Isa. 10:5ff.). “The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies” (1:2). “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness” (1:7-8). Many, many times when believers have been crushed under wicked regimes, or when innocent nations have been pulverized by brutal and powerful nations, words like these have sustained the faithful: God is just, and will hold the violent oppressors accountable, regardless of their political stance, religious affiliation, race, economics, or public image.
From Luke 17 comes the memorable line, “Remember Lot’s wife” (17:32; cf. Gen. 19:26). The picture is of “the day the Son of Man is revealed” (17:30). Judgment will be so sudden that the person on the rooftop—where people could catch some fresh, cooling breeze in the evening—should not think of going downstairs to take something with them. They should run from rooftop to rooftop and get out before the judgment falls. The imagery, of course, depends on firstcentury Jerusalem architecture. But the words “Remember Lot’s wife,” and the verse that follows, combine to show that the real issue is hesitation as to where one’s heart belongs. Those who longingly look back to the City of Destruction and try to cling to its toys are destroyed with them. Press on, then; invest in heaven’s stock (Matt. 6:19-21); set your sights on the New Jerusalem.