<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Destroying God's Enemies and Delivering God's People
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2000 William R. Cunningham
September 3, 2000


This week we are going to look at a subject that I have been contemplating for some time now. Actually, I have been thinking about a related topic to this week's lesson. This lesson deals with the anger of the Lord against his enemies and the deliverance of the Lord for his people. We are going to look at a specific instance of this in the book of Nahum and then apply what we have learned to our lives.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that justice rules on our planet? Of course you know the answer to that. There is no real justice on earth. More specifically, there is no true justice in the world system because that system isn't interested in your rights or for your welfare for that matter. Do you sometimes feel uneasy about the fact that some people seem to get over while you seem to have to struggle for the things that you have. Well don't worry because in this lesson you will see an example that illustrates an overall fact, which is that true justice will overcome and the enemies of God will be destroyed while his people will be delivered. So read on and I pray that you are encouraged by this lesson.

The Lesson

Let's turn our attention to Nahum chapter one and let's analyze it for the general message concerning God's Ways. Let's get on with the lesson. Let's look at verse one.

Nahum 1:1 (NKJV) The burden against Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

Nahum's prophecy was to the Assyrian empire, here represented by Nineveh, which was the capitol of Assyria. The term burden could mean the heaviness or seriousness of the message. Not much is known about Nahum besides the fact that he was called an Elkoshite and that his name means comfort or encourage. It is believed that the book of Nahum was written between 700 and 600 B.C. based on the events written in it.

Reference to Nineveh in Jonah

You may remember Nineveh from the story of Jonah and the great fish. That in itself was a major lesson in the operation of God. Though God chose the Israelite nation for his own purposes, we see that he still cared for others. Nineveh was a great example. Jonah assumed that God would forgive the Israelite people regardless of what they did because God loved them and chose them. He didn't realize that God would show mercy on a non-Israelite nation as he did with Nineveh. God cared about even the people of Nineveh, which was of Assyria, to call them to repentance, which they did. God spared the people of Nineveh his judgment because they repented of their ways (idol worship, polytheism, ruthlessness, harlotry, etc.).

About Assyria

Nineveh drifted back to their ungodly ways and therefore God's judgment came to them again, this time from the prophet Nahum. Now let me tell you something about Assyria, which Nineveh was its capitol. The Assyrians had a well deserved reputation of being ruthless in battle and they struck fear in neighboring nations. Assyria was in many ways like Rome would be some years later. They were highly organized and had been in existence for thousands of years.

The Assyrians would torture captives from other lands. They were ruthless in that they would kill women and children in cruel ways. For example, pregnant women were sometimes disemboweled and the young children were beaten to death at the street corners. Basically the Assyrians were ruthless yet well organized.

Since about 730 B.C., Israel and Judah had been Assyrian vassals. Almost a century later, the Assyrian Empire began its decline. Many vassal nations revolted along with Josiah of Judah (2 Kings 22-23). A coalition of Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians attacked Assyrians and in 612 B.C. and destroyed the capital, Nineveh. The Assyrians formed a coalition with the Egyptians, but in 605 B.C., they were defeated. Of course this decline of the Assyrians happened after Nahum's prophecy.


So what do we have in general here? First we have an ungodly nation and one that oppressed God's chosen people. God gave the Assyrians a chance to change their ways and escape his wrath. They did for a time but reverted back to their ungodly ways. Of course the Judah was not completely innocent either. Their predicament was due to their disobedience as well.

Now Nahum brought good news to Judah. He brought news of Assyria's defeat and their restoration from captivity. God would again deliver them from the punishment imposed by their own sin.

The Prophecy Begins

Nahum 1:2 (NKJV) God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;

God is jealous and God avenges. The word jealous here means that God does not tolerate unfaithfulness or rivals. He demands total loyalty, which means worshipping idol gods is forbidden. The fact that the word avenges is used in parallel phrases indicates the seriousness of the statement or to emphasize the point. We can say that if God's wrath is towards someone then that someone is in a lot of trouble. The Israelite people were encouraged to remember that God would avenge them (for what the Assyrians did to them). Remember that! God will avenge you. Let me digress a moment for an opportunity to apply this principle to something that I have been contemplating for some time. Let's look at the world system and how that system affects our lives.

God's Wrath and the World System

The world system is not of God. As a matter of fact, the world system is driven by principles that are contrary to God's way. Regardless of how much we try, we will always be influenced negatively by the world system. This is true whether you are on your job, in school, at the store, in the court system, etc. The fact is that nothing in this world is truly just. How can justice and fairness come from people that are inherently unjust? How can ungodly men and women impose fair judgment on someone in the judicial system of America or in any country? Such is impossible because people are not completely just so in every decision there will be a component of selfishness, fear, and even paranoia. So no person can be truly just or fair. Therefore, we shouldn't expect the world system to be just to us.

You try to do the right thing on your job only to watch someone excel with little or no effort and not being as qualified as you are. The less qualified person gets the job because of prejudice, favoritism, or personal objections having nothing to do with the job. You feel cheated but why should you. That is how the world system operates. There is no justice and there is no righteousness in the world system.

However, be encouraged because the world system will get its just reward in the end. The world system, which is powered by the selfishness and pride of people, will forever be thrown into the bottomless pit never to trouble you again. You can one day rest in the justice and love of God without having to "watch your back." So just like Israelite was encouraged by reminding them of God's wrath on their enemies, we too should be encouraged to know that God's wrath is pointed directly at the world system and that system will one day be crushed. Satan ultimately powers the world system. Consider the following scripture.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The ungodly ways of people come ultimately from Satan. The principalities that power the world system is therefore evil since it is not of God. We should always remember that the world system does not have our best interest in mind unless our best interest is for its best interested, i.e., nothing personal.

Nahum 1:3 (NKJV) The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.

Yes God does get angry! The word angry means the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice, often translated "anger," "indignation," "vexation," and "irritation." Both humans and God express wrath. It is best to understand the concept of anger in this context as a response to injustices and not merely an emotion stimulated when one is offended for example. This verse also tells us that God is in the wind and the storm and that the clouds are the dust of His feet. These words describe the awesomeness of God in that he is above even nature. Ancient religions often had gods for the wind, rain, and storm. This particular statement indicated how great and powerful God was above all of creation-even over the idol gods.

One thing that we should notice then is that this verse tells us that God is slow to respond to injustices even though he has great power. That is, that God is patient. Now you may say that God should act quickly to avenge us instead of being slow to wrath. If God were to do that then we would all be dead because we all "test" God's patience. We should thank God for his patience even though it appears to not be desirable in a particular situation. We have all benefited from the patience of God at one time or another. This verse also tells us that the guilty will not "get away with it." Consider the following very powerful scripture.

Psalm 37:1 through Psalm 37:2 (NKJV) Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.

Don't worry when it appears that ungodly people are living good while you struggle to get the little that you have. Don't worry when evil appears to be the right thing to do to get by. Don't be tempted to follow the way of evil because life just doesn't seem to be fair to you as you try to do things according to God's way. Here is good news for you. LIFE IN THIS WORLD IS NOT FAIR! Why should you expect justice from a world system that does not operate on the principles of justice?

Be comforted knowing that God will avenge you and those that do evil will be punished. Don't become one to be punished by submitting to the ways of the world. Live your live according to God's way as best you can and God will avenge you. One day when the world system is destroyed, you will be able to relax in the justice and love of God.

Nahum 1:4 through Nahum 1:5 (NKJV) He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts. The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.

The point here is that God controls all of creation. Bashan was famous for its rich grasslands or pastures (Joel 1:10). Carmel was noted for its grain fields and vineyards. Lebanon was known for its forests (Isaiah 33:9). In general, all of these places were known for their respective rich vegetation. In verse five we also see an illustration of the awesomeness of God.

Nahum 1:6 (NKJV) Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.

This verse signifies the fact that there is no hope for those whom the Lord is angry with and for those whom the Lord's wrath is aimed. This reminds me of a scripture from Paul's writings.

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The converse of this is therefore true as well. That is, if God is against you then who can be for you? So there is no hope and no escape for the enemies of God. Nothing will be able to stand in the way of God's wrath and God's judgment. Justice will indeed prevail in the Kingdom of God. God is indeed a just God so we don't have to worry about evil reaping good in the end because evil will reap the wrath of God when all is said and done.

Nahum 1:7 through Nahum 1:8 (NKJV) The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, And darkness will pursue His enemies.

The concept of good is a rather complex one because it is so relative and so vast. There are many things that we might not consider good and yet according to another standard is indeed good for us. God is the ultimate standard of good. The Bible says that God is good and therefore we must examine God in order to understand what good really is. In any case, this verse makes the statement that God is good and that he is a stronghold (gives protection, fortress) in times of trouble. God knows who really trusts him.

Verse eight refers to Nineveh or more generally, Assyria. God will put an end to Assyria and there will be no place for his scattering enemies to hide. Justice will be done to the enemies of God in the end. Again, be encouraged. Your enemies are God's enemies because you belong to God if you have been born again. Those who oppress you will be torn down. You will be delivered from your oppressor, which ultimately is Satan. Consider the following verses.

Acts 10:38 (NKJV) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Are you oppressed? Then give a shout for joy because you will be delivered!

Nahum 1:9 through Nahum 1:10 (NKJV) What do you conspire against the LORD? He will make an utter end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time. For while tangled like thorns, And while drunken like drunkards, They shall be devoured like stubble fully dried.

God will destroy any plans of anyone who conspires against him. No plans will succeed against the Lord. The great and powerful Assyrians are no match for God. They may boast in their triumphs but they will fail in their efforts to thwart the judgment of God. The world system may appear larger then life and you may think that you have no recourse against it. Well the world system is not larger than life and your recourse is the Lord God. The world system is against God and God will therefore destroy it in the end.

Nahum 1:11 (NKJV) From you comes forth one Who plots evil against the LORD, A wicked counselor.

This is believed to refer to the Assyrian King Sanacherib. Senacherib had destroyed 46 cities of Judah and besieged Jerusalem in 701 B.C.

Nahum 1:12 through Nahum 1:13 (NKJV) Thus says the LORD: "Though they are safe, and likewise many, Yet in this manner they will be cut down When he passes through. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more; For now I will break off his yoke from you, And burst your bonds apart."

Here is what the LORD says. This verse refers to two peoples. First it refers to Assyria and then it refers to the Israelite people. It was typical of the person being addressed in Hebrew prophecy to change. Nahum says that the Assyrians will be cut down even though they are safe and abundant now. Then the focus turns to Judah. Though the Lord afflicted Judah (because of their sin), he says that he will afflict them no more. This refers to the deliverance of Judah from the Assyrians. The yoke that would be broken is the yoke of the Assyrians, which is a symbol of servitude. The shackles or bonds will also be broken, which refers to the liberty experienced by Judah's deliverance from the Assyrians. This reminds me of a very similar scripture, which interestingly enough refers to the Assyrians as well. Consider the following scripture.

Isaiah 10:27 (NKJV) It shall come to pass in that day That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, And his yoke from your neck, And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

This verse says basically the same thing as Nahum 1:13. The yoke of the Assyrians will be taken away and they will burst out of their captivity.


A Side Note

I must digress a moment to an interesting thing that happened to my wife and I some years ago. A certain minister, whom I will not name, preached that Isaiah 10:27 meant that the anointing is the burden removing, yoke destroying power of God. However, when we study Isaiah 10:27 we will find that it does not refer to that. As a matter of fact, my wife and I were following along in our NIV Bible only to find that the last statement said, "because you have grown so fat. I wondered why the seemingly different translation. The anointing referred to in this verse means "fat" as in a fattened ox that bursts out of its chains. It is not referring to the Holy Spirit being the burden removing, yoke destroying power of God. However, the Holy Spirit can indeed remove burdens and destroy yokes. It's just that this scripture does not refer to that fact. This is why I have always believed that we must study the scriptures ourselves because sometimes, and perhaps many times, the clich s that we speak in our religious organizations are not in line with what the Bible actually teaches.


OK. So Assyria will be destroyed and Judah will be delivered. That is the main point. There is a significant application to this that I would like to bring out. Though we may think that the opposition from the world system is great and that the world system appears to be getting away with its ungodly practices, we should be encouraged that justice will prevail. God will destroy all those who oppose him and deliver us.

Another thing that I would like to point out is that sometimes the troubles that we experience are because of our own decisions and even our own sins. Yes God will deliver us from these but going through them is part of the consequences for our decisions and sins. In any case, God will not forget us and remember that he is good and that he does love us.

Nahum 1:14 (NKJV) The LORD has given a command concerning you: "Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, For you are vile."

The LORD has given a command means that the declaration is final. The Assyrian name will not perpetuate. That is to say that there will be no descendants of the Assyrians. God will also destroy the carved images and the metal images that are in their temples. They will die because they are wicked (trifling). Again we see the judgment of God's wrath on the Assyrians. They will be utterly destroyed for their sins.

Nahum 1:15 (NKJV) Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, Perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.

Celebrate now Judah because victory is yours! Assyria has been defeated. We must remember that Assyria's defeat had not actually happened yet. However, victory is assured since God declared Assyria's defeat and ruin. The same holds true for us in anything that God has promised. We can totally rely on it coming to pass because God is completely faithful to his word.

Lessons Learned

What have we learned from this lesson? Well we learned a little about Assyria. We know that regardless of how powerful the enemy of God is that they are no match for the LORD. There are no plans that can stand against God. Consider the following scripture.

Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV) There are many plans in a man's heart, Nevertheless the LORD'S counsel-that will stand.

Only the purposes of God will ultimately stand. Nothing can withstand the will of God though it may appear so. Sometimes we look around us and see the many people that are "beating the system" or appear to be escaping justice for the wrong that they have done or are doing. At the same time we struggle so hard while doing "the right thing." Why can't we cheat a little? That would not be a good thing to do because you would place yourself in the number of the ungodly at that time. God will not forget the things that you have done and in the end the world system will perish anyway. All that is around us is temporal so we should NOT cling to them as though our lives depended on them. Instead, draw near to God..

God will deliver us according to his time when we go through troubles even if those troubles are self-induced. We should remember that God is in control of all of creation even though it may not appear to be so sometimes. In the end (or even your end) justice will prevail.

Experience the love of God and not his wrath. Live according to his Way and not the world's. To be friends with the world means that you are an enemy of God. Therefore, do not bind yourself with the world system or you may go down with it.

Remember this. The enemies of God will ultimately be destroyed and the people of God will ultimately be delivered from all injustices. Not only that, God will avenge his people of their oppressors. So be encouraged knowing that doing the right thing will be rewarded, and God's wrath is towards your oppressors. Amen.

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