Monthly Archives: September 2016

Nineveh where hast thou fallen?

Nahum is an oracle of God against Nineveh, the capital of the Northern Kingdom. The Assyrians are in power and God reminds the Northern Kingdom just who is the authority and power  that rules. We all are familiar with the book of Jonah, the wayward backslidden prophet of God who refused to go to Nineveh because he knew that Jehovah was merciful and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. Jonah’s refusal to go to Nineveh did not prevent God from pouring out a revival/great awakening on the King and the people of Nineveh that lasted for 100 years. Now a 100 years later, the Assyrians are attacking a killing the people of Israel. Of course, this is part of the plan of God. The Northern Kingdom [Israel] has been entrenched in Baal cultic worship. Oh, Ahab and Jezebel have made sure of that!

Nahum opens up with a vengeful passage. The LORD is jealous, avenging, wrathful, anger against adversaries. Trouble is on its way! Samaria, the center of Assyrian empire is going to fall in 722 BC. The Great kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar is on the rise. The Assyrians will fall completely by 612 BC, very close behind will be the deportation of the Jewish exiles in 587-582 BC. I have been amazed at how our God draws all things unto Himself. He speaks and it happens. Yet the thought that the Old Testament God is a mean, anger, evil God is wrong. It may appear to be so, but Yahweh does not flippantly judge people. He is long suffering and compassionate, even to His enemies. Our Father in heaven acts, when He has exhausted all attempts to reconcile with His people. While we know that kingdoms come and kingdoms go; they rise and fall with the strength of the LORD.  When I think of our current situation here in America and the political upheaval abounding, I cannot help but wonder how long before Yahweh says enough is enough? No people can thumb their nose at God and expect to be unaffected by His awesome power. Assyria, Babylon, Persians, Medes, Greeks, Romans and yes the Americans all are subject to the power of the LORD of the universe!

While the LORD used several empires to bring judgment upon HIS people, the problem occurs when the empowered kingdom, no longer adheres to the plan of God and takes allowances that are not permissible in God’s plan. The evil religious practices were rampant in Israel and Assyria. The people of God acted like their foreign neighbors.

Nahum is an oracle of God describing what will happen to the once enlightened and revived Nineveh. A familiar illustration of locust, is found in 3:15-17; this same language is found in Joel 1:14. The prediction of devastation and destruction is sure. Often though when there is a delay, people think that God has forgotten, or worse yet that they got away with something. All the world will submit, and bow down to Jesus – nations, kingdoms, and people. Even though there was a great revival and saving of people in Nineveh for 100 years, they forgot, drifted away and got completely absorbed into cultic worship. This happens today to churches, nations and people.

R.G. Lee preached “payday, someday” sermon. It is a truth we all must believe. God is a loving and compassionate God, but He will not tolerate any worship other than to Him!

There are many that proclaim that our nation “was a blessed nation by God” but can we really say that we are today? Nineveh tasted of the goodness of the LORD, but then left Him. Has America done the same? Have we not been blessed by God, because He chose to do so, and we have disregarded His love for us, thinking that we are the power behind our success? Will the locust be coming soon to America? We do well to heed the past work of God on other nations of disobedience!

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Get to Work-Altar First

Haggai, the prophet was a contemporary of Daniel. While Daniel was in Babylon, Haggai was among the Jews left behind. Under King Cyrus, the exiles began to return to Jerusalem. He even ordered timbers  and all manner of building materials shipped to Jerusalem for the restoration of the Temple. In Ezra, we find that Zerubbabel was leading the way. However, when the temple construction got under way, there was a great resistance from the people who had lived there the last 70 years. The opposition caused the builders to lose heart and stop the building. But they only stopped building the Temple, they in-turn used the cedar timbers that were sent to build, cedar lined houses for themselves. It wasn’t until Ezra returns to Jerusalem and finds the people “living comfortable lives” while the Temple still lay in ruins, and his prompting of them cause the Temple to get built. [Ezra 2 and 3]

Now Haggai, wrote in-between Zerubbabel’s and Ezra’s visits to Jerusalem. He challenges the returning exiles about why they have stopped working and why they are living lives of “luxury” when the devastation and destruction are so prominent?

A couple of things at this point; first when the exiles returned, they were to build the Temple – the Temple is first order of business. The reason seems clear – when there has been major devastation and destruction in our lives, from sin or some other tragedy, the first thing that must be restored in our lives in the PLACE of WORSHIP. We must come back to worshiping our Lord and Savior. The heart of worship is the altar. Don’t worry about the walls, the houses you will live in – get God back at the center of you lives. The exiles attempted to do this, but the enemy [Satan] demoralized them with opposition, and the sat down and quit. It is a difficult thing to rebuild the altar in your life. The enemy does not want you to restore your place of worship. The devil doesn’t mind you building for yourself, but do not rebuild the place of God in your life. When Haggai gets to Jerusalem he finds the exiles “living among the ruins” – key point here again, Satan doesn’t mind you building for yourself, he will even convince you that you are better off taking care of you than trying to fight against the opposition for the place of the Lord.

I am sure that when the exiles returned and saw how great the damage was, they sat down and cried. We see this all the time today with hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. People are devastated by the destruction – but they vow to rebuild against all opposition.

Haggai addresses the people; they have planted and tried to till the ground but no harvest. Haggai tells the people the problem – you are disobedient to God. The Lord had persuaded gentile kings to provide the building materials and the people of God lost heart to build! We find that Zerubbabel is encouraged, as are the people. In fact that is what is stated 2:4-5, take courage, do not fear – My spirit is abiding with you. Three times the phrase “take courage” is stated. The same message given to Joshua before entering the Promised Land.  The task of rebuilding is always difficult – and surely the Temple would not look like the Solomon Temple in all its grandeur, but it would be the Temple where God’s glory would return. The built in 3 months the Temple, and I am sure there were many who were disappointed in what it looked like.

When life throws us into a pit of despair, get the Altar rebuilt! Get your worship back remember the God of the universe loves you. Once the worship is restored, then other places can be built. The building of the Temple was medicine – the people I am sure as they dug through the rubble wept greatly; as the saw what use to be. Looking at all the memories and brokenness, yet God was able to build again. We have to grieve over loss, but not get stuck in our grieving. The work of rebuilding our lives, with the altar of worship intact is medicine to the believer. Do not let the enemy cause you to lose heart!

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Same Song, different verse

Micah the prophet is our reading for this week. Nothing is new with what Micah has to say to God’s people. Micah ministers during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; for about the span of 35 years. He writes during the time of Isaiah. All his prophecy is before the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. It is interesting to listen to the warnings over and over again – yet the people of God will not hear the message of calamity and destruction coming for them. The result of their wayward rebellion is destruction and turmoil – a right punishment for their actions against God. It is also interesting that we rarely have to talk about disobedience to the bottom seven of the 10 commandments, for our sins are contained within the first three and our idolatry. Micah brings prophetic judgment against both Northern and Southern kingdoms. While the Northern Kingdom was radical engulfed in Baal worship, Judah is no better, in that they follow suit while still “performing the rituals” at the Temple of Solomon.

I won’t repeat the continued message of how God was going to punish His people, but there are some very pointed verses that bear our attention. In chapter three, we find a very graphic description of just how bad times will be; the people will become cannibalistic and eat their own children’s flesh. [3:1-4]

Sin has always promised more than it could give, kept people longer than they wished and cost more than people could pay. Yet here today we are living in such a time as they. Oh, we may have different descriptions for our sins, but sins they are!

While there will be captivity and exile for God’s people, there is Hope. What a wonderful message from God! Even though mankind will rebel and even hate God, He lovingly initiates the way of return to Him. Jesus the Messiah, He is the Advocate and “Kinsman Redeemer” for us – our Go’El. In Chapter 4:3; a great message of future restoration. The “Last Days” is clearly the time frame for the war instruments to be redesigned. We are not there yet – I see this as the time of the Millennial Reign of Christ. Jesus will have judged the nations, and begun to reign. Only then will weapons become obsolete. The message of Grace and future is caught up in the prophetic prediction of the “Messiah’s birth” in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 promises the coming Messiah – the religious leaders knew where to find the Messiah, even though they were a mere 6 miles from Jesus, they might as well have been a thousand – they didn’t look for Him at all.

We are not without knowledge, God has told us His plan. He accomplished all that the prophets had said. We have the plan of God recorded for us in Revelation and places such as the Olivet Discourse – we are not ignorant – just stiff-necked. What does God want from people, His people? Very clearly it isn’t the sacrifices of animals – God wants us! In Micah 6:8; it is clearly delineated what God wants – a pure heart, a submissive soul – God wants us to BE what we were always intended to BE before sin. “You are to BE holy, as I AM is holy. Years went by before God did what He predicted – remember, God is not slack concerning His Promise – 2 Peter 3:9. We dare not think that God’s delay is His neglect of performing His plans – its called Mercy and Grace!

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