21 min 2 weeks
July 2, 2024
Message of the Book of Nahum
The biblical Book of Nahum is one of the twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament and primarily focuses on the judgment of the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The main messages of the Book of Nahum are clear and compelling and can be divided into several central themes:
Key Messages of the Book of Nahum:
  1. God’s Judgment on Nineveh: The Book of Nahum is a prophecy of the downfall of Nineveh. It announces the impending judgment of God on the city for its cruelty, brutality, and arrogance. The Assyrian Empire was known for its violence and oppression, and Nahum makes it clear that God will not let these sins go unpunished.
  2. God’s Sovereignty and Justice: A central theme is God’s sovereignty over the nations. Nahum emphasizes that God is the Lord of history and has the power to overthrow mighty empires. His justice demands that He judges sin and injustice, no matter how powerful the sinners are.
  3. The Transience of Human Power: Nahum reminds readers that human power and empires are transient. Nineveh, which once seemed mighty and invincible, will fall. This serves as a warning to all nations and rulers that their power is not enduring and that they will ultimately face God’s judgment.
  4. Comfort for the Oppressed: Although the Book of Nahum is a message of judgment for Nineveh, it simultaneously offers comfort to the peoples who suffered under Assyrian rule and brutality. God’s intervention shows that He hears the cries of the oppressed and will ultimately bring justice.
  5. God’s Character: Nahum describes God’s character as both just and good. In Nahum 1:2-3, God is depicted as jealous and avenging, who will not leave the guilty unpunished. At the same time, Nahum 1:7 emphasizes that God is good, a refuge in times of trouble, and that He cares for those who trust in Him.
Summary
The Book of Nahum delivers a powerful message about God’s justice and sovereignty over the nations. It announces the inevitable judgment on Nineveh for its cruelty and arrogance and serves as a reminder that human power is fleeting. At the same time, the book offers comfort to the oppressed, emphasizing that God hears their cries and will bring justice. The descriptions of God’s character as both just and good underscore the message that God can both judge sin and provide protection and refuge for believers.

 

DAILY BIBLE READING – Nahum Chapter 1
1 The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.
10 For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
11 There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor.
12 Thus saith the Lord; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.
13 For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder.
14 And the Lord hath given a commandment concerning thee, that no more of thy name be sown: out of the house of thy gods will I cut off the graven image and the molten image: I will make thy grave; for thou art vile.
15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
King James VersionPublic Domain

Commentary
Verse 1:
Nahum begins his book with a prophecy about Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. “The burden against Nineveh” indicates that this is a heavy, oppressive message of judgment.
Verse 2:
The Lord is depicted as a jealous and avenging God. This emphasizes God’s justice and His wrath against His enemies. God’s vengeance is not arbitrary but a response to evil and sin.
Verse 3:
Despite His vengeance, the Lord is patient and great in power. No one can escape His justice. These verses highlight God’s sovereignty and power—He controls natural forces like weather and storms.
Verse 4:
God has the power to rebuke and dry up the sea and waters. Even fertile regions like Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon can wither under His wrath. This shows the comprehensive nature of His judgment.
Verse 5:
The entire creation reacts to God’s presence. Mountains and hills melt, the earth trembles—this illustrates the awe-inspiring power of God.
Verse 6:
God’s wrath is insurmountable. No one can withstand it. His wrath is like a consuming fire that even shatters rocks.
Verse 7:
Despite His wrath, the Lord is good and a refuge in times of trouble. He knows and protects those who trust in Him. This offers comfort and hope to the believers.
Verse 8:
God’s judgment is final. He will bring a flood upon His enemies and pursue them into darkness. This emphasizes the complete destruction that will come upon the enemies.
Verse 9:
The Lord will put an end to His enemies. His vengeance will be final. Calamity will not strike twice because His judgment is conclusive and complete.
Verse 10:
The enemies will be burned like thorns entangled and in their fullness. This symbolizes the total and utter destruction of the enemies, no matter how strong they may appear.
Verse 11:
From Nineveh came one who plotted evil against the Lord. This refers to the leadership and the people of Assyria who acted against God.
Verse 12:
God speaks directly about the impending destruction of Nineveh. No matter how powerful and equipped they are, they will fall. God has humbled them and will humble them again to free His people.
Verse 13:
The yoke that Nineveh has placed upon God’s people will be broken. The chains and bonds of oppression will be torn apart. This is a promise of liberation and restoration for God’s people.
Verse 14:
God has decreed that the name of Nineveh will be wiped out. Their idols and images will be destroyed. This signifies the complete end of Assyrian power and idolatry.
Conclusion:
Nahum Chapter 1 emphasizes God’s sovereignty, justice, and power. It shows God’s wrath against sin and His enemies while simultaneously offering comfort and hope to those who trust in Him. The destruction of Nineveh serves as an example of God’s judgment upon evil and His deliverance of His people.

 

 

WEEKLY SPIRIT OF PROPHECY READING – Ellen White | The Desire of Ages Chapter 42: Tradition
This chapter is based on Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23.
Read online here.

 

Comment
Background and Context:
Chapter 42 addresses the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees as well as the scribes who intended to trap him. The Pharisees and scribes were eager to accuse Jesus of disregarding the traditional regulations, particularly concerning ritual cleansings. These regulations, created as protective measures around God’s law, had become so significant over time that they overshadowed the actual commandments of God.
The Accusation of the Pharisees and Scribes:
The Pharisees and scribes confront Jesus and ask him why his disciples transgress the traditions of the elders by not washing their hands before eating (Matthew 15:2). This question indicates that the religious leaders valued human traditions more than God’s actual commandments.
Jesus’ Response and True Purity:
Jesus does not directly defend himself or his disciples but points out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He quotes Isaiah to highlight their hearts’ distance from God (Matthew 15:7-9). Jesus emphasizes that what comes from outside into a person does not defile them, but what comes from the heart does. Evil thoughts, words, and deeds are the true source of defilement, not the neglect of external, man-made ordinances.
Criticism of Human Traditions:
Jesus makes it clear that the Pharisees and scribes nullify God’s commandments through their traditions. An example of this is the practice of refusing support to parents by declaring possessions as “Korban” (offering). This practice illustrates how human traditions are misused to circumvent divine commandments (Mark 7:9-12).
Resistance and Hostility:
The Pharisees’ reaction to Jesus’ words is anger, as they see their falsehood and hypocrisy exposed. Jesus points out that human customs and traditions not originating from God are ultimately worthless and will be uprooted (Matthew 15:13).
Relevance and Application:
Even today, people tend to place human traditions and customs above God’s commandments. This tendency often leads to hostility towards those who point out the flaws in such practices. In modern Christian practice, many institutions and traditions have no better foundation than the traditions of the fathers. It is crucial that we rely on God’s word and not be distracted by human regulations.
Summary:
Chapter 42 illuminates the dispute between Jesus and the religious leaders of his time regarding the importance of traditions compared to God’s commandments. Jesus emphasizes the importance of inner purity and adhering to divine commandments over human traditions. This teaching remains relevant, reminding us that true purity and obedience to God come from the heart and are not determined by external rituals or human regulations.

 

WEEKLY SPIRIT OF PROPHECY READING – Ellen White | The Desire of Ages Chapter 43: Barriers Broken Down
This chapter is based on Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.
Read online here.

 

Comment
Background and Context:
After his encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus withdraws from Capernaum and travels to the region of Tyre and Sidon to find seclusion and rest. This journey not only aims for rest but also serves to prepare his disciples for their future mission, which will extend beyond the borders of Israel. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach his disciples important lessons about grace, faith, and the universality of the gospel.
The Encounter with the Canaanite Woman:
Verses 21-22: The Canaanite woman who approaches Jesus presents a remarkable contrast to the religious leaders who have just challenged him. She is a Gentile, despised and excluded by the Jews, yet she shows deep faith and remarkable persistence by asking Jesus to heal her daughter. Her address, “Lord, Son of David,” indicates her recognition of his messianic role.
The Testing of Faith:
Jesus initially ignores the woman’s plea and gives her an apparently dismissive response. This reaction may seem harsh or heartless but serves a deeper purpose. Jesus wants to highlight to his disciples the prevalent prejudices and the harsh attitude of the Jews towards Gentiles. At the same time, he tests the woman’s faith and gives her the opportunity to demonstrate her steadfast faith and humility.
The Woman’s Response:
Despite the dismissive words, the woman remains undeterred. She seizes the opportunity and responds with remarkable humility and faith, saying that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table. This response shows that she not only claims God’s grace for herself but also understands his mercy and love that transcend all cultural and ethnic boundaries.
Jesus’ Reaction:
Impressed by her faith and humility, Jesus grants her request and heals her daughter. This action clearly demonstrates that God’s grace and healing are accessible to all, regardless of their background or status. It is a powerful example of overcoming prejudices and the inclusiveness of the gospel.
Lessons for the Disciples:
Jesus uses this encounter to teach his disciples several important lessons:
  • Faith and Persistence: The unwavering faith and persistence of the woman serve as a model for the disciples and all believers.
  • Universality of the Gospel: Jesus shows that his mission and the message of the gospel are not limited to the Jewish people but are meant for all humanity.
  • Overcoming Prejudices: The encounter teaches the disciples to recognize and overcome their own prejudices and those of their culture.
Far-reaching Significance:
This event has far-reaching implications for understanding Jesus’ mission and the role of the disciples. It shows that the gospel is meant to break down barriers of race, culture, and religion, and that faith and humility are the key factors in receiving God’s grace.
Relevance and Application:
Even today, social, cultural, and religious barriers exist that separate people. The lessons from this story remind us that God’s love and grace are accessible to all people and that we as believers are called to carry this message of inclusivity and mercy to the world.
Conclusion:
The story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman is a powerful testimony to overcoming prejudices and the universal nature of the gospel. It shows that true faith and humility are the keys to receiving God’s grace and that no human barrier is strong enough to limit God’s love and mercy. This teaching is as relevant today as it was then, challenging us to live out and share the universal message of the gospel.

 

WEEKLY SPIRIT OF PROPHECY READING – Ellen White | The Desire of Ages Chapter 44: The True Sign
This chapter is based on Matthew 15:29-39; Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 7:31-37; Mark 8:1-21.
Read online here.

 

Comment
Background and Context:
In this chapter, we witness the continuation of Jesus’ ministry in non-Jewish areas following his encounter with the Canaanite woman. He traveled through Sidon, came to the Sea of Galilee, and entered the region of the Decapolis. These regions were predominantly inhabited by Gentiles, which makes Jesus’ mission at this time unusual since he had primarily ministered among the Jews.
The Healing of the Deaf-Mute (Mark 7:31-37):
  • Verse 31: Jesus travels from Tyre through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the region of the Decapolis. This movement shows that Jesus is also working in Gentile areas, indicating that his message and healings are not limited to the Jews.
  • Verses 32-35: People bring a deaf-mute man to Jesus and beg him to heal him. Jesus takes the man aside, puts his fingers in the man’s ears, and touches his tongue. These physical actions demonstrate Jesus’ personal and caring approach. He sighs, looks up to heaven, and says, “Ephphatha” (Be opened). Immediately, the man can hear and speak. This healing not only shows Jesus’ power but also his deep compassion and ability to overcome physical and spiritual barriers.
  • Verses 36-37: Jesus instructs the people not to speak about it, but they spread the news anyway. This shows the overwhelming impact of Jesus’ miracles on the people and their inability to remain silent about such marvelous events.
The Feeding of the Four Thousand (Matthew 15:29-39):
  • Verses 29-31: Jesus goes up a mountain, and a large crowd follows him. They bring the sick and lame to him, and he heals them. These miracles cause the crowd—consisting of Gentiles—to praise the God of Israel. This is remarkable as it shows that Jesus’ works are also recognized among the Gentiles and that God is being praised.
  • Verses 32-39: After the crowd has been with Jesus for three days and has no food left, Jesus expresses his compassion and decides to feed them. The disciples again doubt the possibility of feeding so many people in the wilderness. But Jesus repeats the miracle of feeding: with seven loaves and a few fish, he feeds four thousand men, along with women and children. Seven baskets of leftovers remain. This feeding again shows Jesus’ power and compassion and serves as a model for the disciples that God’s provision is unlimited and extends beyond all cultural boundaries.
The Challenge by the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:1-4):
  • Verses 1-4: After returning to Jewish areas, the Pharisees and Sadducees demand a sign from heaven as proof of his divine mission. Jesus rejects this demand and says that no sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. This response shows that outward signs and miracles alone are not enough to overcome unbelief; it requires an inner change of heart.
Lessons and Application:
  1. Faith and Compassion: Jesus’ healing of the deaf-mute and the feeding of the four thousand demonstrate his deep compassion and willingness to help all people, regardless of their background. This teaches us that faith and compassion go hand in hand and that we are called to express our faith through acts of love and care.
  2. Overcoming Prejudices: The disciples need to learn to overcome their Jewish prejudices against Gentiles. Jesus’ work in Gentile areas shows that God’s love and grace are accessible to all people. This is an important lesson for us to recognize and overcome prejudices and discrimination in our own lives.
  3. The True Sign: Jesus’ response to the Pharisees and Sadducees emphasizes that true signs and wonders are not of an outward nature but consist of an inner change of heart and faith in God’s word. This challenges us to examine our own spiritual lives and ensure that we are not merely seeking outward proofs but striving for a deep and authentic relationship with God.
Summary:
Chapter 44 shows how Jesus breaks down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles, revealing the universal nature of his message and ministry. His healings and miracles in Gentile areas, along with his teachings on true faith, challenge us to overcome our own prejudices and limitations and to develop a deeper, more compassionate, and more authentic relationship with God.

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