Author: reformanda

Nineveh’s Destruction Deserved

Nahum 3:1-19

Poisoning former spy and daughter in England; selling children to circus in Nepal; Russian military action against targets in Syria; Boko Haram kidnapping 110 schoolgirls in Nigeria; former president of South Africa charged with corruption; Rio city councilor assassinated. Patterns of oppression, slavery, violence, corruption sanctioned or practiced by governments around the world. Not on their reading list for sure, but everyone involved should read and heed Nahum’s prophecy in light of current events from Nahum’s day and their own.

Names / faces change, basic issues do not – reason… sin-corrupted hearts of men, women, boys, girls are problem. Anti-trafficking laws, more comprehensive monetary policies, improvements in national economies and the like are not solutions. Are only feeble attempts to deal with symptoms. Does not mean situation is hopeless… far from it. Nahum very good news for those who love God, desire justice. God by no means unaware of the facts, not powerless or disinterested… in fact, quite the opposite.

Remember: what we see taking place all around only portion of the whole. Another entire dimension where battle is raging between forces of good and evil, God and Satan. Yes, Satan was defeated at the Cross, but is only cornered not neutralized. Satan’s intent: do all he can to take everything he can away from Christ and bring under his control. Includes preventing growth of Christ’s kingdom, iow continued progress of God’s plan of redemption. Satan does not want people saved, does not want saved people to be effective or persevere.

Assyrian agenda to end worship of true God, divert all that worship to idols. Also intended to destroy Jewish identity, assimilating Jews into surrounding cultures. Samaritans to some degree result of that strategy. God did not intend for that to happen – God’s plan for Messiah to be born to Jewish mother and step-father who would save his people from their sins would take place. God would also use other agents of Satan to bring about the result God intended.

Same is happening on world stage in our day – God using all sorts of resources to remove hindrances to spread of Gospel, advance of Christ’s kingdom. May be moving in slow motion so we don’t recognize it, may not have (accurate) news about what is going on. God hasn’t changed, still carrying out his plan A. Here in Nahum, God graciously reveals details he could have kept to himself. Explains specifically why this level of judgment warranted by Assyrian history. Makes clear from Assyrian personal experience that what Nahum prophesied would indeed occur and that God will be ultimately responsible agent. Since fall of Nineveh an act of God’s judgment, not merely Babylonian expansionism, Assyria would not be able to mount successful defense. Should not hold out hope for reprieve, future rebuilding – destruction would be complete.

A. judgment is just v.1-4


not just military that engaged in violence – had become characteristic of culture as a whole, default way of achieving goals

gun issues big in news now, but what about Brazil? “Brazil sees a 10th of the world’s homicides. The toll rose to 61,600 in 2016; police killed more than 4,200 people”, deadliest police force numerically in world

callous disregard for life and bloodshed is abhorrent to God, should be to those charged with maintaining law and order

bloodshed and the gain from it a mark of city of Nineveh itself, Assyria as a nation – would soon become their lot at hands of invading forces


art of deceiving as widely practiced as violence – go-to tool Assyrian political and military leaders used with neighbors

negotiations commonly a sham, favorable treaty terms used to lull governments into complacency, as worthless to Assyrians as papyrus written on

too many examples in current events to pick from – individuals, business leaders, national governments with history of deception – most disturbing… gov’ts that deceive own people

this, too, behavior despised by God – the one who is light, truth hates deception and those who deceive… mark of Satan


known throughout their part of world for brutal treatment of captives / subjected peoples, barbaric practices to the extreme

bad enough to do it, add to that boasting about it… in stone… in both pictures and words, over several generations

Ashurbanipal, (r. 668-627 BC), practice of flaying displayed and commemorated in both carvings and official royal edicts

“I have made a pillar facing the city gate, and have flayed all the rebel leaders; I have clad the pillar in the flayed skins. I let the leaders of the conquered cities be flayed, and clad the city walls with their skins. The captives I have killed by the sword and flung on the dung heap, the little boys and girls were burnt.”

this horrible disregard for life offensive in extreme to God the author of life – practice of abortion no less disgusting to God


more than once seen in other prophets place enslavement, called human trafficking today, had in Assyrian practice

not necessarily in it for money like Judah at times and some of her neighbors, more interested in free slave labor

families uprooted from homeland, resettled in places strange and far from home, expected in case of Jews to worship strange gods – spiritual enslavement bigger issue than physical

in recent past greatly disturbed by ISIS’ practices (Boko Haram a branch) – not so much indignation over their real agenda: enslavement to god and false worship of Islam

are presently nations where speaking against leader treated as blasphemy, a capital offense – God not pleased

since Adam and Eve first enslaved by sin, God has been about setting people free, giving only Son for that purpose

B. judgment is certain v.5-11

again… “I am against you”

God’s response then the same as now – he is against those who behave as Assyrians did, will actively oppose their agenda

God’s holy character will not permit him to ignore / overlook “in your face” rebellion like theirs – has perfect time to respond

God himself Assyria’s mortal enemy

not the Babylonians, God who through their agency will humble and ultimately destroy Assyrians – no chance he will fail

important encouraging reminder – we don’t need to look for particular human agents to take down repressive gov’t, God uses who he chooses

destruction as certain as Thebes’

one of greatest cities in Egypt, center of religious worship, national capital for a time – overthrown by Ashurbanipal 663 BC

Nineveh thought itself safe from overthrow as Thebes had… previously – God through Nahum assures Nineveh its turn coming

C. resistance is useless v.12-17

defenses without strength

Nineveh / Assyria would try to defend, would not be able to withstand good shaking – would fall from their place

would behave in uncharacteristic ways for number of reasons – bully doesn’t know how to respond to resistance, aggressors not skilled as defenders

most important reason: God’s strength aligned with opposing side – fiercest soldier powerless against fury of God

without courage

incapable of fighting against determined enemy – instead of fighting, will run and hide, looking for refuge in other city

pictured as stumbling around with no coherent plan of defense, without hope, no courage only fear that in their case was fully justified – their enemy was God

really doesn’t matter what Russia has for new invincible missile (NATO’s nicnkame for it: Satan 2) – if God ever tells Russia “I am against you”, their weapons will not make up for lack of courage

without supplies

locusts devastate large area in little time – Nineveh’s supply line would be cut off, available resources consumed quickly

everything they depended on for protection and provision would fail them – would run out of food and water, all they had acquired by evil ways would not meet their needs

without leadership

even military leaders would have no plan, no strength, no courage – at time of greatest need will not be anywhere in sight

D. destruction is complete v.18-19

an incurable wound

Nineveh pictured as devastated city – walls destroyed, gates burned, no defenses, no people, no supplies no hope

some things destroyed then rebuilt, come back better / stronger – not to be Nineveh’s future, destruction would not be reversed

we take it hard when doctor says no cure for what you have – for Nineveh, is God giving diagnosis, no need for 2nd opinion

a fatal injury

hard enough to hear no cure, then given word “it’s terminal” – this too from God himself, waste of time to look for options

God is longsuffering, has his limits – Assyria had reached limit God had set, just like Canaanites (Gen. 15:16), time God purposed to bring judgment on evil people

that limit: in part, their degree of evil and harm it was doing to innocent people; in part, how far agenda against plan of redemption had progressed

all will rejoice at her defeat

is genuine rejoicing at progress and promotion of evil by an evil government brought to an end – is right to be joyful when God brings about justice

as our world gets smaller, fewer players have larger roles, will be good for prudent national leaders to remember Nineveh

the church rejoices

we can rejoice now at what God did regarding Nineveh – it has direct bearing on us and our eternal future given their agenda

we should rejoice to know God not only has plan of redemption, plan includes how / when he will deal with enemies

if God didn’t do that, church would have been destroyed generations ago – we do not have necessary resources to overpower Satan and his agents — only way we can resist the devil is with God’s continual help and our dependence on him

“Nahum emphasizes the same truth that was declared by the prophet Amos: God punishes cruel nations that follow inhumane policies and brutal practices (Amos 1—2). Whether it’s practicing genocide, exploiting the poor, supporting slavery, or failing to provide people with the necessities of life, the sins of national leaders are known by God, and He eventually judges. If you question that fact, go and search for Nineveh.” Wiersbe

So… that means for us… Christ is building his church. His kingdom will eventually include those redeemed by his blood “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. (Rev. 5:9) Proclaiming Gospel will be effective.


Who Will Deliver Me?

Exodus 20:17

Previous commands emphasize outward conduct, how we demonstrate love for neighbor. This one gets under skin, unmasks feelings and desires. Not a repeat of commands against stealing, adultery… goes right to heart of those issues, the issue of the heart. Maybe think like young fellow who asked Jesus, “ok, what else do I have to do, I’ve kept all those”. How about #10? How are you doing with that one? Not what do you believe, not how do you act – who do you love? This one completes the circle – You shall have no other gods before me… including gods in your heart. Fits perfectly conclusion in Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Many advantages to living where we do… and some disadvantages. Surrounded by stuff, continual supply of more, encouragement to acquire in whatever way possible. Can easily become like:

“A man said to his psychiatrist, “Doc, you gotta help me. Life has become intolerable to me. Here’s my problem: My home is worth about $400,000. I have a 6-month-old Mercedes 560. My wife drives a Porsche. We have a 32-foot boat in the harbor. We have two maids and a cook, plus a part-time gardener. I really have problems!” The doctor said, “With all those things, what’s your problem?” The patient answered, “I only make $62.50 a week!”” Dan Betzer

Might be extreme situation, amusing on one hand yet too close to reality for comfort on other. A thinking Christian might not be in that kind of trouble, doesn’t mean are immune… or always where ought to be in our desires. To covet is to set one’s heart on something, often in comparative way. Want what someone else has because you don’t have, what they have is more desirable.

Coveting and closely related sin of envy corrosive, destructive to relationships – impossible to rightly love neighbor when we give in to envy. Since is sin that begins in heart with our desires, interferes with love for God also.

A. focus of attention


do not desire his house, ox, donkey – things that neighbor has right to own… could have significant sweat equity in all

especially true in our day, things not always as they seem – remember man with problem… could be creditors real owners

whichever the case, are things rightly belonging to someone else… according to God’s design… even for unbeliever

tangible things

what can be bought and sold – could be considered real or personal property – see, touch, appraise, evaluate

look in their direction, see size of new addition to house, 14-day plates on new pickup, shiny Kubota with attachments

color of soil, lay of land and its exposure, nicely matched yoke of oxen / team of horses, color/texture of hay going into mow

can include people and intangibles

wife, servants – doesn’t have to be “I want her/them”… often expressed as “I wish my wife / servants / children were like…”

right along with idea “he’s got it made… with _____ like that” – correct response: thanks, God, for blessing him that way!

recognition, position, power, financial security, health – things people value highly but not able to put in package

real focus that of comparison between us and neighbor, what he has compared to what we have and sense of entitlement

if he can, we should…; how come I don’t, I really deserve…; resenting God’s blessing on neighbor, failure to acknowledge God’s blessing on us

continual pressure from culture in which we live to be discontent – economy depends on it, advertising uses every trick to appeal to desire… equating desire with need

even world’s version of bumper sticker theology: “he who dies with the most toys wins” – Jesus said, “beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

B. desires of heart

things of limited ability

are finite – packaging often promises far more than product can actually deliver… most Christians know that, fall for line anyway – can be seduced by what we see, hear, touch

standard promise of marketing: this will satisfy desire, need, make your life complete – may be pictured rather than stated

all the things that surround the product – carefully picked and posed to communicate powerful statement w/ images

usually not the right thing for the need – most of time need not on radar of desire, sometimes people even admit that

press them, hard put to defend basis of need, instead comes back to wants, desires, things we should control, not indulge

limited duration

get tired, sick, or die – true of work animals, were affected by Adam’s sin just like he was; likewise true of servants

neighbor’s servant, competitor’s employee may be most clever ball of fire ever known to humanity… for now, not forever

wear out or break

don’t make things like they used to, partly on purpose… so you’ll have to replace it, partly by God’s design

one of ways God helps keep right attitude toward things – keeps from getting too attached when becomes burdensome to continue fixing / using

limited to this life

nothing we typically covet lasts beyond this age / life – often, and this is really sad, desire doesn’t last even that long

have told about Jerry, desire for 4-wheeler of his dreams – warranty longer than desire… for that one; moved on to another; and… how often does that happen with relationships?

even people / relationships will not have same kind of characteristics in eternity – Bible doesn’t say much, does seem clear kinds of things we think are important relationally now won’t rank so high in next life

think that’s enough reason to leave off coveting? but wait, there’s more! and it’s of greater significance, too

C. attitude toward God

is progression in way of thinking and feeling that goes along with coveting, directly impacts relationship with God


to desire something someone else has means are not satisfied with what God has provided, absence of contentment

enough other teaching to make point, yet author of Hebrews came right out and said: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” Heb. 13:5

immediately follows with reason for requiring contentment: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” — leads into next level of wrong attitudes


not sure God can / will provide what is desired – might say otherwise, of course God can provide that, then act like don’t believe it… go after it anyway

if God really can provide that, and hasn’t, must have reasons – but… starting to think like Eve, not trusting God’s motives

and along comes pride that says I know as well as God or better what I need, what is best for me, he’s holding out on me

probably thinking: I’d never say anything like that; likely true… but what about actions – do you act in discontented way, as if you distrust God


if discontent allowed room in your thoughts and actions, desire for something other than God takes 1st place

God, because of who he is, his character, deserves loyalty, to be #1 object of our desire , love and trust

has graciously given eternal life… besides whole lot else – coveting says that isn’t enough, need to look elsewhere to satisfy needs and desires

D. winning the struggle

“just say no” doesn’t work – cannot turn off desire, can turn desire to right things

apostle Paul describes conflict: what he knows / what he does, struggle between what he knows to be right, what he wants

Rom. 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – notice he does not look within him for strength/ability to have victory

no one has adequate ability to do what is right – is especially true when comes to desires – we do have power to regulate desires… to some extent, more than we often do

requires changed heart

not something we can do – Jer. 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

to even get started, God must first give us new changed heart able to make right choices, then need to begin doing right

Paul said “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Phil. 4.11-12

an undivided heart (Psa. 86:11)

David: “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” heart divided, pulling in contrary directions depending on circumstances

Holy Spirit by his sanctifying power can unite our heart, give us more consistent God-ward focus… when we give him material to work with

a rightly inclined heart (1 Cor. 12:31; Gal. 5:22-23)

David prayed: “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.” – heart inclined in two directions, flip-flopping Psa 119:36

if Holy Spirit is going to unite our heart, incline it toward God and his truth, must have knowledge of God and truth… and providing constant supply – time with God and his word

what do we find there? – “covet earnestly the best gifts” – God made us with capability of desire, does not expect us to stuff it… expects us to direct desires properly

toward things like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Even best gifts not best we can desire – to really “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” and your neighbor as yourself, God himself must be our first desire. Not his gifts, the good things he does for us, wonderful things promised in next life, but God.

Read Phil. 3:8-15

I Am Against You

Nahum 2:1-13

What is pictured here ultimately war between God and Satan, didn’t end with overthrow of Nineveh / Assyria. (cf. Dan. 10:13) No hint anywhere in Bible of end to this conflict… before the end. Consistent portrayal in Bible opposite of that – spiritual conflict will increase in intensity as time passes, especially as approach end of this age. Satan certainly powerful being, access to many resources – fallen angels / demons, human agents, temporal resources. At same time, available resources are finite, further limited by God’s sovereign rule.

Both comfort and warning – comfort to know, be frequently reminded: God rules. Warning that as frustrations, reversals, limitations mount up day by day, intensity of Satan’s anger and opposition builds. One reason Paul told saints in Ephesus:

Eph. 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Judah’s struggle against harassment of superpower Assyria, later Babylon. But was not only against those earthly powers – was struggle between people of God and spiritual forces of wickedness, the power behind the superpower. Same conflict continues today, manifested in numerous ways: ISIS, Boko Haram, nation states of North Korea and others. What we have in Nahum relevant reminder – God does not react to circumstances. God does not react to anything, has no need to do so – omniscient sovereign God knows all things and simply carries out his eternal plan in time and space. Didn’t decide on particular day that Assyria had crossed some sort of line and he needed to respond. Had his plan from before creation (Eph. 1:4), is completely comprehensive one. God here informing Nahum and audience about some of details of that plan that would surely be implemented in near future.

Fast-paced, intense, graphic description of what God has decreed will occur when Babylon makes its move on Nineveh.

A. Man the fort! v.1-2

totally unprecedented / unexpected

empire actually collection of smaller kingdoms mostly kept under control by resettlement, intimidation, burdensome taxation

no one had mounted serious military offensive against Assyria yet – most armies not capable of it, designed for defense – Assyria first to use army to enlarge territory

had their sources of information – remember Rehum and Shimshai, what they tried to achieve by feeding disinformation back to King Artaxerxes, stopped work on the temple

many reasons to think were basically invulnerable to attack… besides, gods were on their side, their king was king of world

credible and serious threat

watchmen not prepared at all for what they saw – did respond correctly, sounded alarm calling to battle stations

would take everything they had nearby to effectively defend city – probably only relatively small portion of army there, rest out on different deployments

seems attacking forces came from multiple directions, had to be alert to several dangers at different locations

not only danger from those approaching by several different roads, also risk from Tigris River and tributary Khosr River

Tigris along western side of city, Khosr at right angles, dividing city in two; Sennacherib had walls built to contain Khosr, keep from flooding parts of the city

watchmen’s tone of voice intended to get immediate attention – delay would only further endanger city, residents

needed reminder

v.2 primarily for benefit of Judah, poke in eye of any Assyrians listening – not only would Assyrian threat be removed, what they damaged would be restored

God has power to undo harm enemies do to his people – as expected with God, restored to better than before

God would return to Israel the things that made her great, incl. what would be necessary for comfortable daily life

any legacy Assyrians might hope to leave would be erased – record of their exploits buried under rubble of destroyed capitol

God’s purpose to protect his people from harm while dealing with their enemies – no unnecessary collateral damage

even when situation looks impossible, God can change hardest of hearts, move friend or enemy to do his bidding – no idea where will end up but… appearance of positive movement in NKorea

pray diligently is genuine, opportunity not squandered on trivial things, results in God’s glory and good for NK Christians

B. They’re here! v.3-10


has more the flavor of blitzkrieg than military engagements from earlier in our history – “military tactic calculated to create psychological shock and resultant disorganization in enemy forces through the employment of surprise, speed, and superiority in matériel or firepower”

little concern about civilian casualties – battle in streets of the city, horses and chariots mowing down anything in the way

high speed action, compared to lightning bolts, flashes of lightning – not simple intimidation, backed by real force intent on doing real damage to gain the day


commander of defending forces calls up every available resource, any person and weapon that can be used against enemy

officers aren’t as much help as should be – were asleep / partying / unprepared for quick action, unsure of how to act

had been trained, were experienced as aggressors not defenders – now gaining firsthand experience, treated like they had done to others

here’s the kicker… the river, being diverted / used to damage protective wall – both diversion, strategic opportunity

everything Assyrians had trusted in either failed them or used against them – guaranteed outcome by God’s design… for all mankind who reject true God

utter defeat

Nineveh, once a peaceful city, turned into place of total chaos – everyone running for their lives, including perhaps military

attackers turned loose, given “permission” to strip city of its wealth – everything Assyria had gained illicitly taken away

if drone with camera to fly over Nineveh would see only “destruction, devastation, and desolation” (v.10, NET) – what conquering army left behind soon obliterated by natural forces

throughout city see those unable to escape – “​​​​​​​​​​​​​Their hearts faint, ​​​​​​their knees tremble, ​​​​​​each stomach churns, each face turns pale!” – all-encompassing hopelessness and fear

a circumstance that can result from things other than military action – people we encounter in daily life in similar situation

turn to variety of solutions, most common being substances and suicide – should be prepared to recognize and offer hope

C. It’s over v.11-13

no remnant for Assyria

the place where superpower’s capitol, center of authority located… empty – how can that be, who could have done this

for certain, God used human agents… in this case, Babylonian army to overthrow Assyrians not once but twice – 2nd time at Carchemish, trounced Assyrian / Egyptian combined army – still studied in military schools

yet full explanation of what took place mandates inclusion of God in picture – more than military defeat, was complete removal of Assyrian identity from world stage

God repeatedly promised Israel a remnant – no matter what else might happen to them as a people, he would preserve some

opposite is indicated for Assyria – survivors would be assimilated into neighboring cultures, influence would cease

lex talionis

Assyrians not only first military superpower, had maintained their position by intimidation and fear – most cruel, barbaric, brutal of any toward peoples they subdued

also required huge payments of tribute, payment for protection – in reality designed to oppress subjects so they could not assert independence, mount opposition

“the principle or law of retaliation that a punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”

Assyrians would experience firsthand similar treatment to what they had dished out to others – lose possessions, homes, freedom

instead would live in fear of what might come next, destitute of all possessions, no glimmer of possible change for better

sentence of doom

more in final chapter – God determined to stop Assyria in tracks because their agenda directly opposed his plan of redemption

declares his purpose through Nahum – destroy Assyrian military might, end their ability to intimidate including next generation of leaders, silence those who would speak on their behalf

what an awful statement: when God of armies says “I am against you” – final sentence against nation of Assyria

necessary because God intended his redemptive purpose to continue unhindered – included continuation of proper worship

Good to remember: although God’s plan sounds harsh and excessive, he is never unjust. No Assyrian man, woman, boy or girl went to Christ-less eternity by accident. God deals with nations, at same time he deals with individuals – never mixes things up, never misses carrying out his purpose.

Not popular sentiment in many circles, but truth is God is against his enemies and the enemies of Christ’s church. God knows their plans, will use their actions ultimately for his glory and the good of his church. For that we should rejoice. Not because we are somehow special or smart. Just as deserving of judgment as Assyrians… until God by his grace changed us. Yet even most determined enemy of Christ and his church has fixed limits on what he can achieve, enforced by God himself. Christ will continue to build his church, advance his kingdom until day he returns.

Uphold Truth

Exodus 20:16

While back were “debates” about existence of absolute truth – some said yes, it exists, others disagreed. Was like Pontius Pilate had come back to visit: “What is truth?” John 18:38 Now seems argument is over, vocal majority accepting absence of real truth, trying to move on. Former VP Al Gore did get one thing right – at times truth is very inconvenient… just won’t go away!

Yet fallen human beings have an odd relationship with truth – someone who days ago told the truth about not telling the truth no longer serves as White House Communications Director. And… looked down on by many thought of by American public as untrustworthy as lawyers and used car salesmen. Truth is essential to survival of cultures, governments, even individuals. Especially true in regard to justice system, narrow focus of ninth command. In our legal system, perjury considered a crime against justice, liable to fines and incarceration. Lying under oath compromises the authority of courts, grand juries, governing bodies, and public officials and their ability to do their job.

Truth a big deal to God – much in Bible devoted to principles of truth, rightly so. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us: “Truth, n. Conformity with fact; agreement with reality”. If anyone knows facts, has undistorted view of reality, is God. God has communicated truth in both written and living Word – Bible, Lord Jesus. Has also included specific expectations about what he expects of his people with regard to truth. Even devoted entire chapter to answer question of who can live in God’s tent – readPsalm 15

Sound reasoning and theology underpin statement:

he alone is true who speaks and loves the truth, and has a desire to promote it for the glory of God and the safety of his fellow-men” Ursinus, Heidelberg Commentary

Both practical reasons why upholding truth is wise, is also that whole imago Dei thing, how we are to accurately reflect character of God. Then add in Jesus’ statement that it is truth that sets free, Satan’s character as antithesis of truth. Finally, we are all witnesses, not in court of law, but testimony must be true. As with other commands, outward conformity should be reflection of heart condition.

A. false / empty testimony is harmful

sheqer number of times refers to idols

Jer. 10:14 “his molded image is falsehood, And there is no breath in them” – pretending to be what are not, empty promises

false testimony pretends to be what it is not, a witness giving credible accurate information of something they have observed – actually neither credible or accurate

shav’ used in two commandments in Deut: 3rd, “in vain”, 9th, “false”

false witness empty of genuine substance – yet when presented well / not verified or corroborated is believable, persuasive

is part of reason behind two safeguards: 2 or more witnesses required in capital cases (Deut. 17:6) and witnesses cast first stones (Deut. 17:7)

false witness brought against Jesus

ultimate worst case in all of human history – actual search for false testimony, hoping to have sufficient grounds for death

even true testimony Jesus gave of himself used against him – became false witness in mouths of his accusers

and apostles – Acts 17:5-9

false accusations made out of envy caused all kinds of collateral damage – Jason, friends hauled before authorities, Jason had to bail them out

usually not single individual who receives harm – spreads quickly, involves others… another reason why God hates gossip

B. truth sets freeJohn 8:32

from deception

good to remember: those bent on deception pretty creative, continually coming up with ways to deceive – mastering all the ways an endless / probably fruitless task

are companies making big $$ working to protect from deception – antivirus/antispam/antimalware software

try to protect against people who will steal information or money by using clever deceptions… that keep changing

far better served to grow in knowledge/understanding/recognition of truth – so familiar with true what is off just looks wrong

cool thing about truth… doesn’t change – don’t need monthly subscription to be fully protected, just a copy of the standard… and help from the Author

from deceiver

father-in-law, expression, from his father – two kinds of people don’t like… thief and liar… can watch a thief

is true yet deceiver able to deceive only when potential victims not well-grounded in truth, firmly committed to it

keep in mind: ability to grasp and apply truth not something can do on our own – is much truth unrenewed mind cannot grasp

not because we are intellectual giants that we “get it” – is solely because God graciously brought to life, peeled off scales of sin, given Holy Spirit

from destruction

maybe not immediate result, deception eventually destroys – think about some of white-collar crooks, what has happened when deception unmasked – examples multiply

recently, passenger airplane, 71 passengers and crew all died when plane crashed – instruments were deceptive, not reporting actual conditions

truth in ultimate sense sets free from eternal destruction: truth of the Gospel sets free from bondage in sin, slavery to Satan, sentence of death

C. Satan is the antithesis of truthJohn 8:44 (see NIV)

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

connection between character and speech

who he is reflected in what he says – Satan does not uphold the truth, is not in him to do so, what comes out is deceptive

nature of deception is it breeds more – one leads to another, each needs to be more comprehensive to cover sinful motives

between speech and action

one who works to deceive in speech does so in action also – Satan’s root desire is to enslave and eventually destroy

yes, words can hurt, often do hurt – was words from Satan that led Adam and Eve into sin and death

words to or about neighbor should lead to action that demonstrates love, not causes harm – especially true of close neighbors

Christian’s greatest desire – as far away as possible

just the thought of falsehood should be revolting to Christian… because of who star player is – reason enough to shun it

at same time, should have equal desire to be close to Christ, one who identified himself as way, truth, life

D. God’s word is the sourceJohn 17:17

many kinds of truth

not every kind of truth applies to all people in all circumstances at all times – not every kind of truth is important to all…

truth about how internal combustion engine operates not significant to person who only has a bicycle

truth about gravity, safety around electricity and water, addition facts, even when we don’t think about them have significance

one kind at head of line

truth as declared by God, embodied in his son the Lord Jesus, recorded in his word the Bible stands unalterable and above all other truth

it does apply and have significance for all people in all places for all time – that is one big reason why God revealed it

not only relates to quality of life issues during earthly existence, God’s absolute truth has direct bearing on QoL after death

does not need to be defended

don’t have to prove its validity, its application, its source – God’s truth as found in God’s word accompanied by God’s Spirit quite capable of taking care of itself

consider all the testimony to accuracy of Bible – archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, sheer volume of manuscripts

needs to be upheld

truth that never sees light of day not helpful – must be displayed, declared, witnessed to so has effect / results God intends

Rom. 10:14-17 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they are sent? …faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

E. we are witnessesActs 1:8; 5:32

must be accurate ones

we depend on accuracy of Jesus’ witnesses for health of eternal soul – same holds for those who hear our testimony – must uphold and present God’s truth clearly / accurately

must be credible ones

“For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing is at stake, will still more be truthful where something is at stake; he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he avoided it even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of praise.” Aristotle, Ethics

includes upholding truth when is hard – truth unpopular, causes division, may put very lives at risk – what we perceive as risk God may intend to use for good


Deciding to follow Jesus means giving clear and credible witness to God’s truth, upholding and maintaining truth whatever the cost… and trusting God to direct the outcome.

Nineveh’s Destruction Decreed

Nahum 1:1-15

“God’s not mad at you, He’s madly in love with you. There’s nothing you can do to change His love for you. If you’ve been away from God, turn to Him & receive His love today!” 10K Likes, Victoria Osteen, Facebook

Not a message that would have met credibility requirements for giving to Assyria. God was justly angry with Assyrians, intended that they should know it. Had already sent Jonah to them, that time heard warning and repented. This time a different story – at least on national level would be no repentance, no deliverance from God’s judgment. Important to note: rise and fall of empires part of God’s plan, using sinful desires of pagan kings and military leaders to bring about his purpose. Was not popular rebellion or revolution but national armies as ultimately overseen by God that brought end to repressive governments.

Is also important message for today’s world: God has not mellowed with age, has not become more tolerant with passage of time. Those who stake out position of hostility against God are at great risk of his wrath. 2x in 1 John (4:8, 16) “God is love” – “liberals” like to focus on that, minimize or ignore other facets of God’s character. John not kidding, exaggerating, but must be understood in light of all of Bible… includes plain truth about God’s vengeance and wrath directed toward his enemies.

Think about it this way: if you are committed enemy of God and “He’s madly in love with you”, what do you have to fear? Why should you change, why repent if no risks to continued hostility? God’s wrath toward those who plot against him and God’s loving care of his people feature prominently in Nahum’s burden. Both should be part our conversations with lost people too.

A. burden v.1

big deal, big principles

not clear just how much Nahum understood of world affairs, how God’s plan for Nineveh / Assyria would shake things up

probably seemed to him / countrymen that nothing could stop Assyria, superpower of ancient world – was precisely what God had in mind… and more

not only would God orchestrate end to Assyrian expansion, a different nation all together would take its place at the top

principles involved far more significant than simply politics or economics or military superiority – contest for world domination

was going to be a “big” response by God – destruction of capitol city, overthrow of empire, end to way of life – Nahum’s job to announce that

religious war

report from 2014, findings at Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh

At the beginning of the canal system are giant stone wall carvings in which Sennacherib brags about his invention and equates himself with the gods. The aqueduct features similar notations, with Sennacherib essentially signing his name to the achievement like a painter would sign his canvas, along with the not so humble descriptor, “the king of the world, the king of the land of Assyria.”

report from 02/23/2018 describing aftermath of fighting/occupation in Mosul area of Iraq:

Seven clay tablets, found in a palace hidden under the Tomb of Jonah (blown up by ISIS) in the northern city of Mosul, describe the rule of a king named Esarhaddon.

“The palace of Esarhaddon, strong king, king of the world, king of Assyria, governor of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the kings of lower Egypt, upper Egypt and Kush”

Another of the tablets says that Esarhaddon ‘reconstructed the temple of the god Aššur [the chief god of the Assyrians],’ rebuilt the ancient cities of Babylon and Esagil, and ‘renewed the statues of the great gods’.

The texts say Esarhaddon is the son of Sennacherib, who reigned over Assyria from 704–681 B.C, and a descendent of Sargon II, who was also ‘king of the world, king of Assyria’

this kind of conflict a heavy burden for prophet of God – not just him and his friends under attack, God he loved also

desire for justice

Nahum would want his God vindicated, his God’s enemies dealt with, iow wanting justice to prevail… which would be good for Israel – provide relief from harassment

Nahum well aware of potential human cost – many lives lost however God chose to stop Assyrian advances, could include some of his own people

hard spot to be – heavy burden for sensitive prophet, wanting justice and right but not desiring lost people to die lost

B. display of God’s character v.2-8

actively jealous

the fierce determination of God to tolerate no rival whatsoever” Renn – Assyrians setting up / promoting rivals to God

“determination of God” accompanied by commitment to action – not hasty in response, not frustrated or paralyzed either

intervenes / directs affairs of men toward two possible outcomes – become friends, further hardened enemies… no middle ground… ultimately heaven or hell

furiously angry

not an “over the top” out of control anger like people exhibit – this a measured just response to willful sin against holy God

sinful people tend to overreact, hence lex talionisonly eye for eye, not arm and leg, too – we are to respond as God would

Nahum pictures God as letting loose his righteous anger against enemies who would topple God from throne if possible

actively in charge

sovereign in more than name – God himself goes to war against those who were warring against his church… and will win

two accounts in OT and NT – Josh. 5:14, “Commander of th earmy of the Lord”; Rev. 19:11ff ” He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. …the armies in heaven …followed him”

able to do all his pleasure because all nature willingly subject to his rule… earth itself shakes at his approach – imagery of tornado, drought, earthquake, mudslides, volcanic eruption

perhaps not strictly imagery to make a point – probably is more of God’s hand directly at work in natural catastrophes than even Christians readily admit… because fail to recognize sinfulness of sin


Nahum makes sure to give “balanced” presentation of God – yes, all this true about wrath/judgment, will come back to that, but….

for those who trust God, needed reminder – don’t forget even when things look hopeless, looks like maybe even God is against you, he is good

God is good and he does good – all he does is for own glory and good of his church… those he knows who trust in him

at same time, keep in mind he is not indulgent grandfather type – God quite capable of wrath to enemies, goodness to friends

C. display of God’s power v.9-12a

completely stopped

whatever Assyria is plotting will be stopped, completely neutralized – important detail: plotting really against God, not just national enemies

really Psalm 2 in action: read v.1-6

even world superpowers not above God’s control, his judgment when they get too far out of line… toward God and his church


will not satisfy God’s just anger to simply confine these enemies within boundaries – will be removed, lose their identity

whether they object or not, will be assimilated into other surrounding people groups, no longer identified as independent nation

will not be long drawn-out process – drunkard doesn’t take long to get drunk, dried stubble burns almost instantly – think CA wildfires, how rapidly they advanced

cut down

ones at the top – Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, etc – believed were above harm, advance of armies could not be stopped

God would show them otherwise – in fact, top conspirators would be “cut down”, iow, one way or other die unexpectedly

Putin announced new nuclear ICBM claimed travels 20x speed of sound, unlimited range, cannot be intercepted or shot down – may think that makes him invulnerable… not from God’s vantage point

D. display of God’s mercy v.12b-15

afflicted no more

hugely important message of hope for those in seemingly hopeless situation like Judah – troubles not going to last forever

God gives reason why: his disciplinary action will have achieved purpose – is God who has afflicted them, he will bring to end

freed from bondage

God looking at temporal circumstances of his people, takes pity on them – declares his purpose to free from slavery

as at time of Exodus, God’s purpose not only to relieve physical suffering – intends his people to give over idolatry

expects them when freed from God-denying Assyrian threat to return to true worship of true God – encouragement to do that whole purpose of their “affliction”

aside to Sennacherib

another reminder to Assyrian king of who really is King of kings, God over all gods… and it’s not him

God’s intentions both individual and national – nation/empire of Assyria will come to end, so will godless line of kings

reassurance for Judah

all this action on God’s part another incident when he shows faithfulness to Old Covenant made with the fathers

dealing with Assyria purposeful action by God so that at same time could show favor and kindness to Judah

shows triumph of Gospel over slavery in sin, too – is the good tidings that bring peace, that declares our enemy the wicked one is defeated enemy

just as surely as Assyrian empire came to end by God’s decree, so Satan’s kingdom will come to an end and he will be utterly cut off, able to cause harm no more

God is still on his throne today, watching over his people, aware of their fears and frustrations. Same warnings to godless people apply, so does same gospel. God will be “a stronghold in the day of trouble” for all who trust in him. He can be counted on to deal with various world powers who would try to set themselves in God’s place. In way of his choosing, God will make clear who is really in charge, he will not tolerate conspiracy against him or harassment of his people forever. Means we can sleep nights knowing God is wide awake and on duty.

Living Generously

Exodus 20:15

Have you noticed how lots of folks love generosity in others, even like the idea of being generous to folks… often with other people’s resources, though. Not so keen on being generous themselves. Think minimum wage ought to be higher, complain about higher prices at checkout. This program or those benefits ought to be expanded, then howl at increases in tax burden.

God commends generosity, not in forms just mentioned, but personal generosity, when one being generous gives from his own resources. Familiar text perhaps comes to mind:

2 Cor. 9:7 “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

That and more connected to present commandment. Addresses broad range of principles: how do you acquire what you have, what do you do with it once you have it. In a nutshell – acquire it in ways God approves, use in ways that bring glory to God. Things in view like work ethic, property ownership, buying / selling / borrowing, charitable giving, gambling, investments, and of course trust and God’s providence.

Keep in mind: we are image bearers, designed / intended to reflect character of God. Since God is ultimate Giver, what does that mean for us his children?

A. what is forbidden


basic definition: to take without right or leave, and with intent to keep wrongfully; to take the property of another without right or permission

perhaps once time in life when would have considered, now as child of God not thinkable to purposely take what is not yours

would quickly agree mugging, bouncing checks, taking tools from jobsite, shoplifting all wrong things to do – are correct

includes intangibles

what about less obvious things – padding expense account, questionable tax loopholes… know “everybody does” not good enough

applies to things you can’t hold in your hand

time, energy, affection, reputation, freedom – all things that can be taken from someone else

using time that rightly belongs to employer, seeking credit for self at expense of another, putting expectations on someone else that limits freedom

shouldn’t willingly sign up for things that steal from us

rightly exercise caution so not vulnerable to identity theft – guard passwords, PINs, careful what retailers patronize

at same time, too many sign up easily for what steals time that could be used to advance Christ’s kingdom, choices that take away financial freedom

B. what is required

acquire things lawfully

talking God’s law, not man’s – much that is authorized by man where God doesn’t agree, various forms of gambling/lottery

God clearly connects acquiring even basics with work: read2 Thess. 3:7-10

well-known parable of talents commends prudent investing, condemns failure to properly use what God entrusts (Matt. 25:14ff)

look out for well-being of own possessions and others

responsibility doesn’t end with acquisition – includes proper use of all God entrusts to us regardless of how acquired

should not misuse time, talent, material or other resources – should use them to maximum effectiveness , big picture… for sake of the Gospel and spread

how does that work? e.g., 3 basics, food / shelter / clothing – kind & qty of food that fits you best for service to God; well-maintained shelter for own protection (so you can serve well) and hospitality; clothing appropriate for occasion so you can serve effectively and with good witness

and others? take care of what you borrow, give back as good or better; call FD if neighbor’s house is on fire

be generous with what you have; go back to creation mandate

at beginning God supplied Adam and Eve with amazing abundance, nearly unlimited possibilities for growth

whole planet was theirs to make productive… to glory of God, for their own use, for good of others who would come along

God could have given 160 acres, fenced it, told to live in it – instead, God was unbelievably generous… and still is, btw

here’s where biblical work ethic comes in:

Eph. 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”

work hard, up to your potential, then use rewards for labor the right way – give back to God first, use for own need, plan to be generous as God enables

conditions for that to work? Matt. 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'”

general principle: use what God entrusts wisely and well, he will entrust with more; includes / requires generosity

includes proper training of children

too many children trained up with entitlement mindset, something for nothing – given all kinds of trinkets with no responsibility

can learn from young age – if you want something (and is what is appropriate) there is way to go about getting it

and once you have it, these responsibilities; if / when it breaks or wears out, here’s how you deal with it

children need to be trained to be generous – start with sharing toys, give rather than throw outgrown toys away

spreads out from there: making sweet treats, who will receive a helping; raking leaves, which neighbor has a need

applies to children’s earnings – firstfruits to God, remainder used wisely in age-appropriate ways… including opportunities to be generous to those in need – remember Paul

C. its basis

God’s commitment to provide

nearly every page of Bible has something about God’s provdence – from beginning has supplied needs of his creatures

even grievous fall into sin increased / enhanced God’s faithful provision – sinful man has greater need, less ability, more dependent on God

most amazing, God provides liberally for his enemies as well as friends – generosity not limited to those who are nice to him

God most generous to his children, lavishing kindness and blessings on them – his children his priority but not only recipients of good things

God’s model of generosity

obviously finite human beings cannot compete with God – still should present accurate image of God, incl. love & generosity

once again apostle Paul nails it: Rom 8.32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

God willingly gave up what was dearest to him – dearly loved son in whom he was well-pleased – not for his own benefit, but for our eternal good

if we want unsaved friends / family to be attracted to God’s generosity in Lord Jesus, can’t be sending mixed messages – need to model it to extent God enables

“forbids” hoarding, greed, anxiety

since have millennia of examples of God’s faithfulness besides personal experience, are some attitudes / behaviors we should not give in to

holding back / hanging on because might need at some point – iow, being reluctant giver

desire for more so will be sure to have enough when time of need comes – in both cases, may be keeping from someone else what God would have us give

so we give away, look at how little we have left, get anxious and fearful – might run out, might not be enough to meet need

and so we hold back trust and confidence in God that rightly belongs to him… when we know he can provide, should believe he will supply our need

remember what Jesus said: Matt. 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

May God help us to trust him that he will take care of us, that he will supply our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. And then may we use wisdom and discernment he supplies to love our neighbor… generously.

19. Why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?

19. Why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?

Matthew 16:8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread?

Read: Matthew 16:5-12; Mark 8:13-21; see also Luke 12:1(bad doctrine applied to life)


4000 feeding on northeast shore of lake, between Gergesa and Bethsaida; crossed to Magdala/Magadan (western shore) Mt. 15:39; highly unlikely religious leaders would have gone beyond Galilee, already far outside jurisdiction (75+ mi from Jerus)

challenge from Pharisees and Saducees… again – lose/lose for Jesus: Pharisees (Stoics): Beelzebub connection; Saducees: (Epicureans, materialists) denied miracles, etc. (Acts 23:8)

if Jesus did give sign, Pharisees credit it to Satan, Saducees claim some sort of material explanation; could not accurately discern signs that were present, fruitless to give more; one only… Jesus’ resurrection (Mt. 12:40ff)

back across the lake (Mt. 16:4b-5) vicinity of Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22), headed into “Gentile” territory, at least a higher percentage; v.13, 25 miles north… eventually, Caesarea Philippi

discussion at beginning of “walk” north, would have had a day or so on the road depending on pace – Jesus begins this part of conversation with stern warning

Person(s) being questioned:

some or all of the Twelve – general term “his disciples”, “the disciples” – at least the ones that didn’t mind rowing again

only had one loaf; Jesus probably having a little fun along with serious warning and test of their thinking / reasoning

Jesus tosses out verbal firecracker, according to Mark “give them strict orders”, waits to see what disciples will do with it

their solution: mumble among themselves… on subject only incidentally connected to Jesus’ warning

Question behind the question:

Mark 8:17-18Aware of this, He said to them, “Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened?Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear? And do you not remember?” CSB

What do you think my mission is here? and your mission in the future? Hint: see Mt. 16:13ff

Time is short, don’t you have better (read: more significant) things to discuss?

Expected response:

Um, isn’t that what you were talking about? You hungry or something?

better: oh sorry, care to explain? give little more detail?

best: oh yeah, you were talking about the Pharisees false doctrine, right?

Jesus’ point:

Faith (and associated understanding) needs to mature, become the driving force of thinking and acting

Purpose of miracles: 1) John 20:30-31; attest his deity; 2) Matt. 15:32; show compassion; 3) Mark 5:18-19; freed for service

Need to put aside preoccupation with externals (leaven), focus on true Gospel and application to daily life

iow, things that hinder advance of Gospel freedom in disciples and those they would influence must be abandoned / avoided

Modern Application:

what are things we are preoccupied with that

show lack of faith

steal our joy (John 17.13)

hinder ability to serve Christ by ministering to others