God’s Righteous Judgments

judgment-001Once again, I sit here in front of my monitor writing down my thoughts on this next Bible lesson that we are teaching in our Connect Groups at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. This week, we are going to dive down in the book of the prophet Nahum. The Bible presents the nature of God, in other words, the character of God to humanity. The main character trait that people remember about God is that He is love. Some people ignore all of the other character traits of the Lord and simply focus in on one aspect, love. God definitely is love. He is also righteous and just. He punishes sin. He protects victims. He takes revenge for those who cannot defend themselves. When we examine God, we need the full picture of who He is. The book of Nahum presents God as being wrathful. Nahum explains to the readers WHY God judges people and nations. The focus of this week’s lesson is the righteous judgments of God.

I. God’s Judgments

This is the characteristic of God than many people either want to avoid or, are genuinely ignorant of because no one has ever presented the full picture of who God is to them. The prophet Nahum receives a message from the Lord against the people of Nineveh. These are the Assyrians who invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel and decimated the population through death and captivity. God allowed that to happen after warning the Northern Kingdom time and time again to repent of their ways. God saw what the Assyrians did to His people and He now pronounces judgment upon them because they did not repent of their wicked ways.

1 The oracle of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies.
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; He dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither; The blossoms of Lebanon wither. (Nahum 1)

The name Nahum means “to comfort“. God is going to bring comfort to His people through His righteous judgment upon the Assyrians. The root of the verb “to comfort” is “to repent“. God gave the children of Israel a chance to repent and they did not. The Assyrian captivity brought about repentance. The Assyrians had a chance to repent after seeing what happened to the children of Israel, yet, they did not. Now, they are going to face the music of God’s judgment just as the children of Israel had to do earlier. God’s righteous judgments exist to lead us to repentance. God does not wish that anyone should perish. He wants us to repent. God judges human beings out of jealousy. God’s jealousy is not sinful because He has a right to be jealous. He created us. Jealousy, in this text, means to desire something vigorously that you already own. God created us to be fully devoted to Him. When we go our own way and devote ourselves to something else other than God, He wants to get our attention to draw us back to Himself. Earlier in their history, the people of Nineveh had repented and turned to God. We have an account of that in the book of the prophet Jonah. Now, years later, they have returned to their pagan ways. This judgment of God is also based on revenge. God is punishing a wrong suffered by the children of Israel at the hands of the cruel Assyrians. He is taking revenge for the children of Israel who could not defend themselves. God was patient with the Assyrians but, His patience had a limit and the Assyrians had reached that limit. Now, they are going to experience the wrath of God, wrath that they fully deserved and brought upon themselves. This judgment is to punish the guilty because God is just. He always does what is right with the correct motives. This righteous judgment is also going to be a rebuke to the Assyrians. The word rebuke, used in verse 4, means “to expose corruption“. God is going to reveal what the Assyrians had been doing all along.

5 Mountains quake because of Him And the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, The world and all the inhabitants in it.
6 Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire And the rocks are broken up by Him.
8 But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, And will pursue His enemies into darkness. (Nahum 1)

God had experienced righteous indignation for the wrong done to the children of Israel. They deserved it but, what was done to them was still wrong and the Lord defends the victims by repaying the Assyrians for their actions. God pursues His enemies and the enemies of His people until He repays them for their deeds. Today, we may think that evil people seem to get away with their wickedness but they do not. God takes note of what they do and they cannot escape Him or His righteous judgments.

II. God’s Grace

Even in the midst of God’s righteous judgments on a nation, there is still hope for every human being.

The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him. (Nahum 1:7)

Nahum knew where to run to seek refuge. It was not to political leaders. It was not to the nation with the biggest army. When trouble hits, we have a strong tower in whom we may seek refuge. All we have to do is remember Him and run to Him. He knows us intimately, better than we know ourselves. The Lord is good. There are many benefits that He has to offer to those who turn to Him in times of trouble. This is a picture of God’s gracious nature. Grace, as we know, means unmerited favor. As sinful human beings, we do not deserve these benefits yet, God offers them to us. We simply have to know His character, that He is good, that He offers refuge in a time of need, that He knows us intimately, and that He will protect us even as the things around us fall apart. The children of Israel could have trusted in Him before and during the Assyrian invasion yet, they chose to seek refuse in other places other than the Lord. They suffered the consequences of those choices. The Assyrians, as they begin to experience the wrath of God, have the same opportunity to turn to the Lord as a refuge. Unfortunately for them, they do not and they will suffer the consequences.

III. Why does He judge?

As we have been walking through the first chapter of the book of Nahum, you may have been thinking, “what did the Assyrians do that was so bad“? That is a great question, a question that the prophet Nahum anticipated. Let’s turn to chapter three of his book and see the WHY behind the wrath of God.

1 Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage; Her prey never departs.
2 The noise of the whip, The noise of the rattling of the wheel, Galloping horses And bounding chariots!
3 Horsemen charging, Swords flashing, spears gleaming, Many slain, a mass of corpses, And countless dead bodies – They stumble over the dead bodies! (Nahum 3)

The Assyrians were a very violent people. They were violent to each other and to the nations around them. They had demonstrated that violence when they attacked the Northern Kingdom of Israel, killing many, and taking many more off into captivity. God calls Nineveh a bloody city. To the Assyrians, life was very cheap. This parallels the view of human life in our modern world. Abortion is proof that life is cheap in the eyes of modern mankind. Violence in the streets has become the norm today, much like it was in Nineveh. We like to think that because we are modern, we are better, more civilized than the people who came before us. That is simply not true. Sin nature is the same today as it was back then, some 2,600 years ago! The people learned to live with the fact that lying was a way of life, very similarly to today. We expect our news media to lie to us. We expect politicians to lie to us. We lie to each others. In fact, Nineveh is called a place of many corpses and countless dead bodies in verse three. There is another similarity in Nineveh to our modern world.

All because of the many harlotries of the harlot, The charming one, the mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations by her harlotries And families by her sorceries. (Nahum 3:4)

The word “harlotries” in verse four is often translated as “fornication” in the English language. Fornication is any form of sexual activity outside of the confines of marriage, obviously including the physical act, as well as including the mental aspects. Their world was bombarded with sexual immorality just as ours is today. I’d like to point out a second similarity in verse four. The word “sorcery” is used and it is a synonym for witchcraft. What does witchcraft even mean? It means using spells and incantations to control the elements and or, to control the people around you. It’s assuming the role of God in the physical realm. The idea is saying something over and over again until it impacts the minds of the people around you. How do we see this today? Just listen to the Main Stream Media. It’s like a drumbeat of the same thing over and over again until what they say sticks in people’s minds and impacts their actions. Witchcraft is also the use of illicit, mind altering drugs to control the minds of people. In fact, sorcery is translated in the Koine Greek of the New Testament as Pharmakos. That word may sound familiar to you. It’s the word we get pharmacy and pharmaceutical from in the English language. The culture of the Assyrians is eerily similar to modern American culture today. The people of Assyria used “charm“. That is an interesting word. The idea of charming someone is to tell them what they want to hear but, with hidden motives seeking to control the object of that charm. We see preachers doing this today. Politicians definitely do it, and many, many others. Another common practice of the day was “selling the nations“. We call it human trafficking today. It is happening each moment of each day in the United States of America. They were also selling out the family in Assyria. What about today, how is our culture selling out the family? We are told that marriage is old fashioned. Just live together without getting married because marriage is just a piece of paper. Or, marriage is not a sacred union between one man and one woman. Children and now being taught to turn on their parents, that the school system really understands them better than their parents do. This is all undermining the family today, as the family was being undermined in Nineveh.

I am here to tell you today, based on the reasons why God judged the Assyrians, if He does not judge us today, He will need to apologize to the Assyrians! Our society is doing all of the things that God judged Nineveh for and more.

What is the solution for our modern world? We need to repent and turn to the Lord, running to Him as our strong tower of refuge. I need it. You need it. Our entire society needs it.

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