TODAY’S READING: NAHUM
“Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, ‘Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?” – Nahum 3:5-7
The book of Nahum is an oracle or burden of Nineveh. It is a writing of the vision or revelation of Nahum of Elkosh. Nahum’s vision seems to be filled with God’s anger and wrath being poured out in full force on Nineveh. Just read how the vision starts.
“The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps his wrath for his enemies…Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.” – Nahum 1:2, 6
Nahum sees God pouring out such wrath and violence upon Nineveh that it will be made a spectacle for all to see, which is what we see in Nahum 3:5-7 above. Nineveh will be thoroughly shamed through the lifting up of its skirts over its face so that all can see its nakedness.
But, this making Nineveh a spectacle, this public shaming of Nineveh, actually points to the truth of Jesus in Nahum. And, this public shaming of Israel’s oppressor actually reveals God’s non-violent defeat of the principalities and powers through Jesus.
Colossians 2:15 says, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” A more literal translation would be “by triumphing over them in it.” It is the cross.
Jesus Christ reveals that all of the anger, wrath, fury, vengeance, and violence that Nahum sees God pouring out like fire upon Nineveh is in actual fact Jesus bearing the sin of the world on the cross. And, its by bearing the sin of the world and absorbing all its evil, wickedness, and violence yet pleading for the forgiveness of all that Jesus put the principalities and powers and all mankind to an open shame. Perhaps this is why the book of Nahum is said to be an oracle, or burden, of Nineveh.
The truth of the cross of Christ as the act that made Nineveh a spectacle and brought about its public shaming is further revealed in the meaning of Nahum of Elkosh.
Nahum is a shortened form of Nehemiah. The name Nahum means comfort, compassion, full of comfort, or consolation. Jesus is our comfort and compassion (the Holy Spirit was “another” helper or comforter that Jesus would send after he died).
So, in the meaning of the name Nahum we have the answer to the question – “Who will grieve for her? Where shall I seek comforters for you?” – that would be asked by all who shrunk back at Nineveh’s public shaming.
Elkosh most likely means God my bow. But, Elkosh is likely a derivative of two Hebrew words that both mean to lay a bait, to lure, to snare. So, we could think of the meaning of Elkosh as the bait, lure, or snare of God.
Speaking of the Lord of hosts, Isaiah 8:14-15 says, “And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
Isaiah 28:13 says, “And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” This scripture doesn’t mean what almost every preacher says it means – the method we should use to study the Bible. Read my post “Precept upon Precept or a Precious Cornerstone” to see the real meaning of this verse and why it is said to be snare.
Jeremiah 50:24 says, “I set a snare for you and you were taken, O Babylon, and you did know it; you were found and caught, because you opposed the Lord.”
How did Babylon not know that a snare had been laid for it? How did Satan and all the fallen principalities and powers recognize Jesus as the Son of God but not know that Jesus would defeat their power of death through his own death?
Because Jesus’s death, his crucifixion, the cross, was a trap and a snare, a cunning plan that God always had in place.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8 says, “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Jesus on the cross was a trap and snare to lure evil, wickedness, violence and death out so that it could be defeated. It was God’s secret and hidden wisdom that created this plan before the foundation of the world. In verse 10, Paul says that “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”
It is in this secret and hidden wisdom that the Spirit inspired scripture. It’s not the plain meaning or surface meaning that reveals the truth of God, who God is, in the Bible. No, who God is, particularly in the Old Testament, is only found by plumbing the depths of scripture. The meaning must come through a revelation, a vision, of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the first verse of the book of Nahum.
If we could just take the plain, straightforward reading of the Old Testament, then we would be able to understand it with our natural mind. But, Paul says that this is not possible.
1 Corinthians 2:10-16 says, “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Without Jesus, without the mind of Christ, without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is completely intelligible. Therefore, truth comes from Jesus, his mind in our mind, the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, is the Bible worth anything to us. Jesus must come first.
And, when Jesus comes first, we realize that God does not make a spectacle of or shame anyone by pouring out his anger and wrath in violence on them. No, God does it through the cross.
He dies. God lets you kill him. Then he forgives you.
Jesus is the comfort of the snare that was laid.