Summary: God speaks through storms, whether meteorlogical or personal and he proclaims victory in the end
As most of you know, a dozen of us returned a few days ago from Louisiana after spending a week with Brethren Disaster Service repairing a couple of houses. The stories we heard from people who lived in those houses helped us understand how difficult life has been for them for the past two years.
Frank told us about the wall of water that crashed through the front windows of his house, taking out the windows on the other side. His king-sized mattress somehow got pushed through the narrow bathroom door, ending up in the bathtub. Water rose to four feet above the floor inside the house. When it receded after four days, he found live fish still swimming in the cooler in his garage. He was glad he didn’t find snakes in his house as some did. Muck was everywhere. Of course, flooring, wiring and walls had to be replaced.
Rose talked about her neighbor’s big boat that somehow ended up on her side of a 5-foot fence in the back of her house. The whole first floor of her house had to be gutted and rebuilt. Both of them talked about the looting that went on afterwards. They lost valuable possessions because of it.
When we toured the larger area, we began to grasp the scope of the damage. It was not just a house here and a house there that was damaged. The whole city was under siege. All of life was turned upside down. Houses were on top of cars and cars were on top of houses. Boats and barges ended up on land. Nearly 20,000 trees were destroyed. Some big trees fell down and split houses in two. Other trees pulled up water and sewer lines when they fell because their roots were wrapped around them. Water, power, telephone, sewer lines, highways, and bridges –all the systems a city depends on for living - were rendered useless. The entire city had been brought to its knees, completely humbled in the wake of the storm. And some wonder if the Big Easy will ever recover.
The Bible says that we can experience God in the storm. Psalm 29 says, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.” Our scripture today comes from Nahum in the OT. On our journey through the Bible, we are preaching one sermon from Nahum. He says in 1:3 that we can see God “in the whirlwind and storm.”
Most of us probably grew up thinking that storms are scary things. I remember getting up in the middle of the night as a child and sitting between my parents on the sofa downstairs in the living room while the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled during severe storms in Iowa.
But the book of Nahum reminds us that God makes himself known through storms. He uses them to accomplish his purposes. The words we sang say,
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.”
Storms are a part of life. You may be going through one right now. You may wonder what God is trying to say to you. Of course, I’m not just talking about storms of nature. We all know about stormy marriages and family relationships. We know about financial storms and physical conditions that cloud our lives. Nahum reminds us that earthly calamities are not the total picture. In the whirlwind and storm we can find God’s purposes.
Maybe you have never read this little book of Nahum. One commentator describes it as “a poem, stately, orderly, and impressive, all the parts of which are well-arranged and mutually conducive to the unity of the whole.” (Pulpit Commentary) Beautiful as it is, you may read it and come away wondering what it is about. Some of the language seems difficult to understand. But God has included it in his Word for a reason and today we want to consider its message.
Nahum’s specific message has to do with what will happen to the city of Ninevah, located near today’s city of Mosul, in Iraq. Nahum said it would be destroyed. And later when the Tigris River rose exceptionally high, it was destroyed.
Do you recall the story of Jonah, the prophet God sent to Ninevah to ask them to repent of their wickedness? And do you remember that when Jonah refused to carry out God’s request, God sent a storm, and Jonah ended up with a whale of a problem?
When you read the book of Jonah, just two books before Nahum, you find that God gave Jonah a second chance. Eventually, Jonah went to Ninevah to preach and to tell the people that the city would be destroyed within 40 days if they didn’t repent. And to Jonah’s surprise, the whole city repented, including the king and all the people, and they became obedient, even though Jonah had been disobedient. And because they repented, God did not destroy the city.