Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Destruction from the The Course of Empire collection, by Thomas Cole, 1836
Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; / Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.
— Nahum 3:1,5
The writer of Nahum, perhaps the prophet himself, is undoubtably a poet. The language is both beautiful and awesome, conjuring up spectacular images, which have inspired painters over the centuries.1
The destruction of Nineveh is the presenting story of this book, but its deeper purpose is perhaps to illustrate to the reader the character and attributes of God.2 Nahum describes not only God's judgement and wrath but also the sovereignty of God and how He uses both natural and supernatural means to achieve His ends, e.g. 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.3
I recommend this short book, a poem really, to get a sense of how God was viewed by His people in 650 BC, shortly before the Babylonian exile. God is viewed as less punishing and more loving since the time of Jesus, but here we have a love of a different kind. We have patience, tolerance, slowness and reluctance to hurt. We have a God who draws the line, one who provides boundaries in which we may live well. Such boundaries do loving parents also create for their children. Without structure there can be no freedom, love drifts, and there is no poetry.