Summary: How God moves in judgement
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on Sunday 19 January 2014 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey - the first in a series on the book of Nahum.
Nahum 1: 1 - 14
Introduction to the Book
Nineveh is 280 miles north of Babylon and 600 miles east of Jerusalem, in modern Iraq. It was known as ‘the Robber City’ as overran and stole from other countries so it would enrich itself.
The Assyrians had attacked Jerusalem in 701 BC (in the reign of Hezekiah), having already conquered and dispersed the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
Nahum made his proclamations from the safety of Judah about 713 BC.
He was not the only prophet at the time for Micah was prophesying to Judah (the remaining southern kingdom).
Previously , Jonah, who is known principally for being swallowed in a great fish, tried to run from what God wanted him to do. It was not surprising considering the size of the job! He preached in Ninevah in 862 BC – over a century before Nahum.
Nahum begins by telling Ninevites what God will do, how God will do it and (finally) why God will do it – then the Babylonians did act in 612 BC (another century after Nahum).
The Babylonians destroyed Nineveh so thoroughly that it remained hidden for 2,500 years.
Introduction to Sermon
We have had historical background – it is very interesting, but is it relevant?
Nahum’s name means ‘comfort’ or ‘consolation’ – but his ministry was otherwise.
We are not brought to this book not because many people know that it is there, let alone read it – but because our nation very much like the city of Nineveh.
This nations has had material benefits and have had the hand of God upon us in revival in the past.
In UK, there were many revivals in our nation but most think of 1730s onwards (Wesley, Whitfield, Howell Harris, Daniel Rowland) followed by others, including 1904 – 5 (Wales – the next most well-known), 1905 (Edinburgh), 1921 (Norfolk [Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth] leading to the Scottish east coast fishing ports), 1931 (Aberavon in Wales)…but what next?
In this passage, we will look at:
a. Duty to pass on
a. Duty to pass on
Revival is God first moving His people in repentance so they will have a strong sense of God’s holiness.
Nahum was part of God's covenant people for God revealed Himself to them – the prophet had the responsibility to tell those not heard or fallen away from His message.
God gives many chances - He does not want people to go to hell.
If we do not demonstrate God’s love and mercy to those around us, who will?
We live in postmodern world – ethics is relative according personal preference, people re-evaluate everything so long as God is not involved; its key beliefs are consumerism (with its twin materialism) and individualism – there needs to be urgency in the message we proclaim.
Everything that is not in line with God’s holiness is wrong - it is not either excusable (‘not my fault’) or valid to make comparisons (‘not as bad as someone else’).
In contrast to Nahum’s warning (verse 2, for example) is Isaiah 52: 7 – ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”’
Our desire to share God's good news should be outcome and indicative of our relationship with God.
In book My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers: ‘There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life…Always remain alert to the fact that where one man has gone back is exactly where anyone may go back…Kept by the power of God – this is the only safety.’
We are commissioned by Jesus to bring God’s good news and empowered by the Holy Spirit, which we cannot and will not do alone. We need look to grow in Christ so that we can fulfil His Great Commission.
We have seen the responsibility to pass on.
The Hebrew word used by Nahum for ‘anger’ means ‘heavy or hot breathing’ – like raging bull snorting, or a person that is so het up that literally hot headed and steam almost coming out of their nostrils.
God acting out of His righteous holiness for he hates sin. He is not acting out of retaliation but calls people to repentance.
2 Peter 3: 9 – ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’