22 May, 2024

August 6 | Power for Justice

by | 31 July, 2023 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO AUGUST LESSONS: People cry out for justice when justice has been violated. Perhaps that indicates we all have an innate sense of fairness, honesty, lawfulness, and integrity built into us by our Creator. We seem to know that no one gets away with behaving unjustly forever and that only a fair and impartial judge can judge correctly. We all want justice—until it is imposed upon us. Then we want to avoid justice at all costs. The pre-exilic, seventh-century prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk will help enlighten us that God will someday right all wrongs—even wrongs we have committed against him.

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Unit: Minor Prophets (Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk)
Theme: Justice Will Come
Lesson Text: Nahum 1:1-15
Supplemental Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Psalm 89:5-18
Aim: God has the power and the will to correct injustice, so take heart.

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_August6_2023.

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Business, school, hospital, and government leaders all face a common challenge: enforcing the rules they have made. Making a rule and enforcing it are not the same. And it’s hard to bring justice without the power to enforce rules. God does not have that problem. He can make the rules and has the power to enforce those rules.  

Jonah prophesied around 760 BC for the people of Nineveh to repent. They repented. The city was spared from the justice of God for 100 years. But later Nahum came along (663–612 BC) and had to prophecy against Nineveh again. The people had become notorious for their brutality. We know less about Nahum than we do about Jonah. We know his prophecy concerned Nineveh, and that he had a vision concerning it, and that Nahum was from a village named Elkosh (v. 1). (Jerome the historian said Elkosh was in Galilee, but that is disputed.)  

Great Patience/Great Power
Nahum 1:2-3a 

Patience is one of God’s greatest qualities. He is slow to anger (literally “longwinged”). But no one should think his patience is inexhaustible. His patience is in place to help us repent (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). But God’s patience is matched by his great power (a word similar to “patience” here; it means “the ability to endure”). The Hebrews writer reminded us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).  

God is jealous (in fact, Exodus 34:14 says Jealous is one of God’s names). He is an avenging God—a concept mentioned three times in three verses. God is filled with wrath for his foes and enemies. He will not leave the guilty unpunished (i.e., he will not “clear” the guilty).  

His Way/His Creation
Nahum 1:3b-6 

To illustrate God’s power in justice, Nahum’s vision consisted of aspects of creation (nature). The point is this: If God has his way with creation, then he also has the power to have his way with the people of Nineveh in justice. Those parts of creation are whirlwinds, storms and clouds, water, mountains, flowers, land, fire, and rocks.  

God can pack a punch in a whirlwind (tempest) and storm. Metaphorically, clouds are the dust of his feet. He can dry up bodies of water (Exodus 14:21; Joshua 4:21-24). Bashan and Carmel are mountains east and west of Galilee; in other words, his power knows no width. The power of God is so great that the blossoms of Lebanon fade (this would be to the north). Larger mountains and smaller hills melt away while land masses shake. The question is rightly asked, “Who can withstand his indignation?” His power is like fire, and rocks are shattered before him.  

Wicked Plans/Fulfilled Vows
Nahum 1:8-12a, 14 

This section underlines the brutal wickedness of Nineveh. The people plot against the Lord—this is mentioned twice in this section. The people of Nineveh devise wicked (worthless) plans. They have many allies, but they will be destroyed. The Ninevites were idolatrous in worshipping images in the temple of their gods.  

Therefore, God will fulfill his vow to bring them to justice with his power. God will make an end of them and pursue his foes into the realm of darkness. God will not have to act twice (he will not come a second time). They will become entangled among thorns (confused), become drunk from their wine, and be consumed like dry stubble. They will not be able to perpetuate their name (i.e., they would cease to exist; in fact, neither Xenophon the historian nor Alexander the Great knew where Nineveh was only two centuries after it fell). God would prepare Nineveh’s grave because they were so vile (cursed).  

Noble Character/Peaceful Promise
Nahum 1:7, 12b-13, 15 

The one who can enforce the rules, however, can also bring peace to people suffering under the oppressors. The Lord is good. In fact, he is a refuge (stronghold) for those who trust in him, which would be the surviving remnant of Judah. He cares for those who trust in him. God punished Judah, but now he would punish Nineveh for their treatment of God’s people.  

God challenged his people to look to the mountains for good news (another way of saying, look for the messengers coming back from the battle—cf. Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15). This news would break forth in peace. This would allow Judah to celebrate their faith in their typical festivals. God has the power to enforce his justice, but he also has the power to proclaim peace. 

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