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Nahum & Habakkuk
Week 24 The Fall of Nineveh
Reading: Nahum 1:2-3 "The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." ESV
Thought: Again a call is made against Nineveh and the Syrian Empire after they took Israel into exile. For at once God pardoned the actions of Nineveh, bringing them to repentance, but now they have rebelled and attacked the Lord's people. Nineveh's saving lasted for about 140 years, until the days of the exile of Israel, and ended with a crushing defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, their former vessels. In the account of Nahum we see the weighing of the sins of Syria in light of their repentant past. The Lord is jealous because the Syrians turned from Him, rejected His commands regarding the safety of Israel, and rejected His presence to worship idols. The Lord is very jealous, but this jealousy does not pertain to envy, for the word for jealous in Hebrew is also translated as zealous; to be passionate about something. The Lord is very zealous for righteousness to be done, and for His voice to be heard. Now though Syria has done that which builds up wrath, attacking and killing God's chosen people in Israel, and so He avenges them recognizing Syria as enemy, and does so by bringing up Babylon against them. For He says "Vengeance is mine" (Deut32:35), that is for Him alone to judge righteously. Are we so passionate for the work of God, the Word of God or the chosen people of God? Are we being driven to good works because of something from God that pushes us forward and allows us to strive towards a glorifying goal?
Prayer: Lord, let all be done to Your glory. Lead us in the good works You have prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Let us be filled with a very zealous spirit to see righteousness done and Your name glorified.
A Stronghold in Trouble
Reading: Nahum 1:7 "The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him." ESV
Thought: Life can be tough sometimes, we can have all sorts of problems that never seem to get resolved and we can often find ourselves in a downward spiral with no way out. But we can have full assurance that the Lord is with us, working for our good, protecting us from the weight of our problems so that they would never crush us. The weight is ours to bear, but He will always have His hand over us that we should not fail. For "we know that for
those who love God all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28). A part of the act of living faithfully is the submission of these problems into the hands of the Lord to allow Him to manage them, whilst we go and send as He instructs us to do so. Our problems then will laid on Him, and by His providence they will be managed and covered when we take refuge in Him. Therefore submit every petition in prayer of supplication, yielding over fears, doubts and angst into the hands of the Lord; for He is mighty to save. Be strong in faith, constantly reminded that everything is in His hands and nothing shall fall from them or be completed in ways which are not beneficial for us. Be ever visual that "God's answers are wiser than our prayers."
Prayer: Lord, You know what weighs heavy on my heart, I give it up to You Lord. I leave it in Your care to fulfill Your purpose with it. Let healing be found for me Lord that this burden would be removed. Let this suffering though produce character, that hope would be found in me, and may Your grace be seen throughout I pray.
We Are More Than Conquerors
Reading: Habakkuk 3:19 "GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." ESV
Thought: If then God is our stronghold then "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom8:37) for there is nothing which can stand against us, for even "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt16:18). Therefore let us not hide away in buildings, in small groups or in teaching seminars, but let us take the fight to them, let us break down the gates of hell and lead captives to freedom. Let's love the Hell out of them! Let's go out in groups of two or three as witnesses to the Truth we have received in Christ Jesus, to fill the whole earth with His grace. Be strong then in the battle with your whole armour fastened, praying in supplication, with a joyous voice united to lift up the name of Jesus. Go! Send! Preach!
Prayer: Lord, send us out Lord in Your strength. Teach us to preach to the people You are sending us to, and when we do not know how to speak let there be groanings deeper than words found in Your Spirit. Be with us to the end Lord.
He Goes Out
Reading: Habakkuk 3:13 "You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah" ESV
Thought: Many would attest that being saved and knowing God is about finding Him, as if God was sat in the heavens waiting for people to come to Him. This is the way with all other gods, but it is not the way with our God. For our God goes out from His throne, seeking out us! We are being sought by God, so then it is not about finding God but about putting ourselves in places to be found by Him, and thus guiding others into places where they can be received. For this is also the way in which Christ came; "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Php2:6-8). Christ came to us! We didn't come to Him, we nailed Him to a cross!
Therefore we must humble ourselves for when the voices of our hearts and minds are silenced is the voice of God heard, like a whisper calling out. If you know of someone really looking for God then tell them to wait, wait until He reveals Himself for thus is His grace and glory.
Prayer: Lord, You go out, You came out to save me. For though I was lost, You found me, and now I tell of Your grace, received into the life of Your Son. Call out to others Lord and let them be found, send me to them also Lord that You should use me as a witness to prepare them.
No More Judgement
Reading: Habakkuk 1:12 "Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof." ESV
Thought: The oracle of Habakkuk covers the battle of his mind to understand the works of the Lord, to understand why it is that such devastation is to come upon the people at the hands of Babylon. Habakkuk is not the speech of a single person, whether that be solely God or solely the prophet, but it is an open conversation between God and Habakkuk that a relationship be established and grace magnified. The Lord uses the opportunity to display grace in engaging conversation, explaining His actions to Habakkuk, though it is not necessary that He explain His actions to any human. Verse 12 is Habakkuk's understanding of the situation, that the Lord is bringing Babylon up against Judah as a judgement upon them and in order to reproof the people for their rebellion during the days of the defiant kings Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Yet during his oracle Habakkuk finds a hope to stand by even in his suffering; he knows that the Lord will not cause anyone to needlessly die but that righteousness will be completed. We should always remember that the Lord does not bring judgement upon His chosen people, for the debt of sin has already been paid by Christ, but He does use our suffering to teach, reproof, and train in righteousness through the building of hope.
Prayer: Lord, let all be to Your good, be ever-present with me, restoring my soul to Your Word. Teach me Your ways of righteousness Lord and train me for Your works, reveal Your Truth to me and display Your grace that each day would glorify You.
The Fear of the Lord
Reading: Habakkuk 3:2 "O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy." ESV
Thought: It is not correct to be scared of the Lord for we know that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom8:28), and because we know that "perfect love casts out fear" (1Joh4:18). So what is this fear of the Lord, and why is it used so much? The fear of the Lord is not about being scared because "fear has to do with punishment" but we know that all the judgement that awaits us has been laid on Christ. Therefore the fear of the Lord must be to do with that which pertains to righteousness. The Biblical narrative leads us to an answer for it is the answer of the relationship we have with Christ: the fear of the Lord is the fear of bringing shame to the Lord. Our lives we live as a testimony to the glory of God and the sacrifice of Christ, a witness to
all the earth of His wonders, His works and His grace. We should therefore always be concerned whether our lives are fully testifying to the true grace which has been shown to us. For when we sin our testimony discredits the Lord since in the eyes of the unfaithful the righteousness of God is lost. The second revelation of this has to do with our relationship with Christ, for when we stand before Him on the last day we will be made to give an account of our lives and of how we have lived for Him. In that day I do not wish that any one of the faithful should hang their head that they have not lived fully for Christ declaring His name in action, Word and Truth. Therefore put off all sin, declaring the name of Jesus to all as Christ, Lord and Saviour. Feed the hungry, hydrate the thirsty, and clothe the naked, living each day as a testimony of the grace you have received by showing it to others.
Prayer: Lord, I seek to do righteousness, let nothing I do bring shame to You or give You any reason to be ashamed of me. But let every action bring You glory and be a witness to the grace You give.
Knowledge of the Glory of the Lord
Reading: Habakkuk 2:14 "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." ESV
Thought: To understand the ways of the Lord we must understand that which brings the most glory to Him; the display of His grace (Eph1:6). The ultimate expression of His grace is thus found in the cross of Christ and the sacrifice that was necessary to overcome the depths of our sin (Heb2:9); to give us a new heart and a new spirit (2Cor1:22) such that we would be able to have a relationship with God and be capable of choosing not to sin but to do good works (Rom12:2); for without the sacrifice of Christ and the revelation of Him these things would be impossible (Rom3:10-12). It is thus also by which we can gauge the validity of any teaching by analysing the grace displayed and the glory rendered unto the Lord; and by knowing that no man should be able to boast of himself (1Cor1:29) for that would take glory from the Lord. Every action, in order for it to glorify the Lord, and any system by which the world works must include the greatest display of grace possible and must be supported therefore within the sacrifice of Christ and His revelation. Thus those God chooses to save are chosen by grace, entirely for His purpose of showing grace not because of any redeeming feature or even because they choose Him for they are not able to do so since sin has stolen the choice from them (Rom6:10,22). And therefore the method by which He brings them to salvation; by displaying grace that they should desire it; must be the greatest form of grace which can be shown; for thus His glory is magnified. We though must not consider that we understand fully the ways of the Lord, for His methods are mysterious and beyond comprehension, since we do not have full judgement as to what is good and righteous and how grace can be best shown in the life of a person. Therefore we must render to God all that we think we know for approval and confirmation with cries of "How mysterious are Your mighty works O Lord!"
Prayer: Lord, How mysterious are Your mighty works! Leading captives to salvation in Your name and breaking the bonds of sin. Let my good works completed in Your name be a testimony to Your grace as You send me out to work Your fields. Let every day pour forth grace and Your glory forevermore.