The Abuse of Wrath
My title my be a bit surprising considering the bad rap God’s wrath has gotten in recent times. I recall growing up and having a lively, and misguided, preacher practically scare the you know what out of me. These preachers usually cite such passages as 2 Thessalonians 1.5-10, Christians are then made to fear the wrath of God or the coming of the Lord Jesus. Yet Paul's intent or purpose in those passages is just the opposite of my preacher: Paul says of the coming of the Lord, for example, that we “encourage one another” with this hope (1 Thess 4.18). Further, Paul is writing to lift the spirits of the down trodden and persecuted Thessalonians by reminding them that God will deal with his enemies and the enemies of his People. In Thessalonians it is those who don’t know God, those who don’t know Christ, those who wage war on his people that are warned to beware! The wrath of God is not directed at his people in Thessalonians. Rather the Wrath of God is directed on behalf of God's People! His coming in wrath proves that he is a God of love to his people in Thessalonians.
Nahum, that book that has languished in the bowels of neglect and obscurity, can really help God’s People today to grasp the good news of God’s wrath. Nahum helps us to celebrate the wrath of God. Nahum deserves careful, thoughtful and reflective reading. Though piously affirming the “authority” of Scripture some preachers have recently, and shockingly, suggested that reading Scripture within its context is not necessary. Such a procedure functionally makes the whims of the preacher the authority rather than the text. But Nahum must be read with in its historical context and within the context of redemptive history in the Story of God.
Nahum delivered his message between 663 BCE and 612. The Egyptian city of
mentioned in 3.8 was destroyed by the Assyrians in 663 so that is the earliest it could have been preached. Thebes was destroyed in 612 so that is the latest it could have been preached. Most scholars would place the book after 625 and that is a reasonable date. Nineveh
In our next installment we will look at the theological message of Nahum … whose name, interestingly, in Hebrew means comfort … has for his people and why it is called the good news of peace!!! One cannot say "nahum" without saying "comfort." God is comforting his people because he is a God of loving and saving justice ... what good news that is to his oppressed little band of people.