Micah 1-7; Nahum 1-3; Habakkuk 1-3 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight MNH01
[PEACEFUL MUSIC PLAYING]
The Bible from 30,000 Feet-- Soaring Through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Would you please turn in your Bibles to the Book of Micah. And we have before us three books tonight-- Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk. And I will get to the proper pronunciation of that in a little bit.
But if you were tomorrow to announce to your co-workers and say, last night I went to church to study Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, they might think you're on drugs. Or they might think you're referring to drugs. Like, I took a little Micah and Habakkuk for my Nahum-itis or something.
These are not normal words. They're not normal names. And unfortunately, many of us believers are not familiar with their message.
If I were to give a theme to these three books, and since I'm covering them all in one fell swoop in our Bible from 30,000 Feet survey, I'm going to do that. I'm going to give it a theme, a title.
If there were a song that encapsulated the theme of this section, these three books, it would be "Hey, Judah." (SINGING) Hey, Judah. Don't make it bad.
Because principally, all of these three prophets had something to do with Judah. Even though Micah does mention Samaria, the northern kingdom as well as the southern kingdom, he only mentions the northern kingdom, more as an example to the southern kingdom that they, the South, not be like the North.
So the theme is Judah, "Hey, Judah." These three were God's representatives to that southern kingdom. Micah speaks to the commoners of Judah, the average folk, the common folk, the man or woman on the street.
Nahum speaks to the collective audience of some nobles, as well as the commoners. And then Habakkuk is God's message to a clergyman of Judah, a spiritual representative.
The theme of Micah is God is moving. God is moving. The theme of Nahum is the Ninevites are going. And the theme of Habakkuk is the Babylonians are coming.
All to Judah, principally, God is moving. The Ninevites are going. The Babylonians are coming.
God is moving. God is moving in judgment, first of all, in the Book of Micah. He promises to act on the earth, intervene in human history, judge because of sin that is going on in the camp of the Jewish people.
But eventually, like so many of the other prophets predicted, afterwards there will be a glorious restoration. That's the theme of the Book of Micah.
The Book of Nahum is the Ninevites are going. Now, you remember there was another book where a prophet was sent to Nineveh. His name was Jonah.
Some time has passed. We'll notice what is going on when we get to that. But this book is essentially to comfort Judah that her long-standing arch enemy, who is now at a place of strength and power-- they've turned against God. They're hassling those in Judah-- that they're on their way out. It would comfort them.
And then finally, the Babylonians are coming. It's a strange message that has an undergirding of faith as the key component. And that's the Book of Habakkuk. We'll get to that as our third study.
In the Book of Micah, as we begin, let me pose a question. Do you ever wonder if your trials are worth all the pain? Or do you ever wonder, is this hardship, this trial, leading to something? Is there a purpose behind it? And of course, the answer is yes, God has a plan.
So you get a theme as you go through this first Book of Micah. "Meek-eye-yow-ooh" is his Hebrew pronunciation, "Mika" or "Meek-eye-yow-ooh" means "who is like God."
But there are some things going on. They have enemies that are oppressing them. They have rulers that are hassling them. And they have wealthy people who are exploiting them.
Those are the themes. That's sort of the background that's going on. Verse 1 of the Book of Micah begins, "The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth."
Now, "Moresheth" is not a town where a pop singer named Alanis came from. This is not "Morissette." It's "Moresheth," which was a town about 20 miles from Jerusalem, 20 miles to the southwest in what is called today the Philistine country.
One of our tour days, we like to go through the area of where the Philistines occupied the land. And he is from that fertile area of Moresheth, 20 miles to the southwest of Jerusalem.
So "The word of the Lord came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Hear, all you peoples. Listen, O earth, and all that is in it, let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple."
"For behold, the Lord is coming out of this place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth." Like a warrior swooping down, or maybe better yet, an eagle swooping down on its prey, God will come to judge.
"The mountains will melt under him. And the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down to a steep place."
It sort of sounds like Psalm 97, "In your presence, Lord, the mountains melt like wax." A song we used to sing around here many years ago-- with that theme, he takes it up.
Verse 5-- "All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?" Samaria, the chief city, the capital city, the main city of the northern kingdom?
"And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?" The main city, the chief city, the headquarter city, the principal city, of the southern kingdom? So Samaria and Jerusalem.
Because of the idolatry of Samaria, the Assyrians will swoop down 722 BC and take captive the northern kingdom. We've covered this so many times it's now ingrained into your collective memory.
So because that happened in 722 BC, we can figure that this prophet probably gave his message around 740 BC, maybe 20 years, maybe 15 years before it actually happened.
Judah will be spared for another century and a half. Eventually they'll go into Babylonian captivity. But the northern kingdom will serve as a warning to the southern kingdom.
But he's pointing now to the very centers of the kingdoms, Samaria and Jerusalem. They're companions in sin. They are destined to be companions in judgment, although removed by about 150 years.
The cities are named for this reason. They are the centers of influence for the rest of the land. Whatever happens in Jerusalem is significant. Whatever happens in Moresheth isn't as significant.
It's a little podunk town compared to a large, influential city. The heartbeat of the southern kingdom is Jerusalem. The heartbeat of the northern kingdom is Samaria, very similar to today.
The centers of influence in the United States are East Coast and West Coast. Business owners of large corporations will often use the middle of the country to test the product because they say if it fails in Middle America, it won't be as big of a deal as if it fails in Los Angeles or New York.
Because as those cities are LA and New York, so go the rest of the country. These are major influential areas. And they influence the rest of the country.
So the idea is my people, the nation, North and South, are rotten to the core. In the very center of the nation itself, the center, the head, the heartbeat, goes to all the rest of the country.
I remember a few years back-- I love apples. And I eat a few a day. I took a bite of an apple. And as I looked down, I noticed a wormhole. I didn't see any penetration on the outside of the skin.
So I noticed a wormhole, which only meant one thing. I had eaten-- I had swallowed the worm. Because you probably know this, worms don't come from the outside through the skin. They begin in the core. Actually, they begin in the blossom.
The eggs are laid and hatched in the core. The worm grows and works its away from the center toward the periphery, finally penetrating the edge. The fact that there was no penetration, the fact that the wormhole was there, but no worm, could only mean one thing.
It was lodged in me somewhere. I was the worm carrier now.
It's not the first time I've eaten worms before, which probably explains a lot of my weirdness. But Israel is rotten to the core is the idea.
Now, the book is laid out in a legal fashion, like a legal summons. Chapters 1 and 2 form the first summons, 3, 4, and 5, the second legal summons, and chapter 6 and 7, the third legal summons.
And you can tell the beginning of this legal summons by the same words. And that is "hear," the word "hear." So look at verse 2 of chapter 1. "Hear, all you peoples," like hear ye, hear ye, as the town is getting an announcement.
If you go over to chapter three, "And I said, hear now, O heads of Jacob, and you rulers of the house of Israel." If you go to chapter 6 where it begins, "Hear now what the Lord says, arise, plead your case before the mountains," et cetera.
So with that in mind, that's the layout. Let's go back to chapter 2 now, verse 2. Speaking of the oppression of the people, "They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance."
This is the upper class oppressing the lower class. This is the wealthy oppressing the poor, the haves versus the have-nots. "Therefore, thus says the Lord, behold, against this family, I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks. Nor shall you walk haughtily, for this is an evil time."
Now, do you remember, back in the Law, the first five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, the Torah, God made a provision in the Law to protect the people who were landowners, or if they lost their land, or if they became slaves?
God knew that you could fall on tough times. You'd have to sell your land. And you wouldn't own it anymore. It would go to another family, even of another tribe.
But how do you keep the land that was given to a certain tribe within the tribal allotment, if you have to sell it? Or you could become so poor that you would have to indenture yourself as a servant.
That was biblical slavery. You were employed by a master. The master would take care of you. It was a way out of extreme poverty.
Well, the way to get out of poverty and the way to get your land back was something called a Jubilee year. So you would plant, and you would harvest, for six years. The seventh year you would do nothing. The land would grow by itself. You would just, by faith, for one year, live off the land.
Every seven cycles of the Sabbatic year was a year called the year of Yovel. Yovel is a ram's horn. You blow the ram's horn-- the year of Yovel or Jubilee.
On the Jubilee year, which was the seventh of the Sabbatic years in a row-- you follow? It was the seventh cycle. Something happened on that year. All debts were canceled, man.
All of the debts were canceled. You don't owe anything more. If you lost land, you get it back into your family and tribe. If you're a slave, you go free automatically. That's how God protected the land.
But by now, the wealthy were taking advantage and exploiting those in poverty. A classic example of that is in 1 Kings 21, one of the kings of Israel, by the name of Ahab, saw a vineyard that was next to his palace up in the Valley of Jezreel that belonged to a guy named Naboth.
And the King thought, oh, man, what a good looking vineyard that is. I really want it. So King Ahab goes to Naboth, the vineyard owner, and goes, hey, give me your vineyard.
I'll give you good money for it. You name your price. I'll buy it. Or I'll trade you for a better vineyard, a bigger vineyard, a more glorious, verdant vineyard than yours.
And Naboth, correctly said, hey, man. I don't know if he said, hey, man. But he said, your majesty, I don't want to sell it. I don't want to get rid of it. It's part of my family allotment. God forbid that I should lose it.
So King Ahab goes back home. His wife comes to see him, Jezebel. And she sees the King with his head down, sulking.
And she said, what up, King? And he goes, man, I really want that vineyard that Naboth has. But he won't sell it to me.
And she says, basically, man up. You're the King. You can have whatever you want. And so she says, I'll take care of it.
So she proclaims a fast and then a feast, and gets two scoundrels to sit next to Naboth. When the fast is broken, they would accuse him of blaspheming the King, which they did. And they then took him out and stoned him to death. The King then stole his vineyard.
That's how King Ahab got the vineyard. And everything was hunky-dory until Elijah the Prophet came along and busted him. But that is a classic example of what this prophet is saying is going on in the land. The rich are oppressing the poor.
Chapter 3, verse 5, "Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who make my people stray, who chant peace while they chew with their teeth, but who prepare war against him who puts nothing in their mouths." They're eating well. But they're devouring the people who have nothing.
So there's two dangers going on. There's wolves on the outside. There are false shepherds on the inside.
"Therefore," verse 6, "you shall have night without vision. You shall have darkness without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them."
"So the seers shall be ashamed, the diviners abashed based. Indeed they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God."
The seers wouldn't see. The prophets wouldn't be able to portend, or predict, or foretell the future. God wouldn't speak to them any longer. That day was over.
And it would come-- it was coming-- from among their own ranks. There were false shepherds. This reminds me of Paul the Apostle when he had that last meeting.
Remember, in Acts chapter 20, with the Ephesian elders, he called them to the shores of Melita? And he got them together. And he said, look, I'm leaving. I'm not going to ever see your face again. I'm going to Jerusalem.
But I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in and destroy this flock, not sparing the flock. Even some from among your own ranks will devour the flock.
That was happening in ancient Israel. Go down to verse 12. "Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field. Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins." That's the Babylonian captivity, 586 BC, "and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest."
Israel began as one nation under God. That's how they started. It was a true theocracy.
The center of their community was the Tabernacle, later on the temple. That was where everything took place. Everything revolved around their worship of God. They were one nation under God.
The United States began as one nation under God. And I'm not trying to equate the theocratic Kingdom of Israel with something similar in the United States. I know some do that. I don't.
But nonetheless, we started as one nation under God. That's what we declared. That's part of what we say, one nation under God.
The back of our bills, the back of our money, says, "In God We Trust." But do we? Are we operating the same way that our Founding Fathers operated when this nation was developed? Hardly.
I want you to listen to a document from 1643. This is part of the Constitution of the New England Confederation, before it became these United States.
And I quote, "Whereas we all come into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the gospel in purity and with peace." That was then. It ain't now.
In God we trust? I don't think so. Maybe in gold we trust, or for some, in government we trust-- but not in God we trust.
What's great about this book is that's not all she wrote. That's not all He wrote. The prophet Micah continues after God is moving. And he's moving in judgment.
It doesn't end there. There's some messianic promises that follow. Chapter 4, verse 1-- this will be familiar to you.
"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days." That's a technical phrase, by the way, that term "latter days." It appears 21 times in the scriptures.
"It will come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills. And peoples shall flow to it." "Mountain" in scripture is sometimes literal, sometimes figurative. I think in this case it is both.
There is a Mount Zion in Jerusalem. But this mountain, this peak of God's work on the earth, is seen figuratively in Mount Zion to Jewish people.
"Many nations shall come and say--" and that word "nations" is goy, gentile nations, nations other than the nation of Israel. Many Gentile nations shall come and say, "'Come let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways. And we will walk in His paths.'"
"For out of Zion, the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations of far off."
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
Don't look down. Don't look down at your margin of your Bibles. Look up at me. Does that sound familiar of what we just read?
Does that sound like something else? It does. It sounds a lot like Isaiah chapter 2. In fact, it's like word for word of the opening verses of Isaiah chapter 2.
So because of that, some will say, well, who copied who? Is this a case of plagiarism? Now, it is true that Micah was a contemporary with Isaiah. He was younger than Isaiah. And he perhaps did borrow the language from Isaiah.
Does it mean it's plagiarism? Here's a principal. Paul the Apostle told Timothy-- he said, Tim, the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these also to faithful men who will be able to instruct others.
In other words, Timothy, you don't have to come up with a whole new message. Timothy, as a young preacher, probably thought, I need to say things that nobody's heard before. If nobody's heard it before, it's probably because it doesn't need to be said.
Because what you really need is God's truths. You need to be established in the old truths, not to hear something other than that.
So Timothy, don't be afraid of copying what I say. In fact, copy what I say. And find men who will teach those things to others, the old truths, the established, solid word of God.
So it could be simply that their source was the same, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave the message to Isaiah and gave the message to Micah. Or Micah was a disciple. He's quoting this portion of it.
But sometimes things are repeated in the Bible because we need to hear them, because they're important messages. Verily, verily I say to you. By the mouth of two witnesses, every word will be established.
Peter said, I know you already know these things and are established in the present truth. But there are certain things I need to repeat. And so I'm going to bring it up to you again. And perhaps that is happening here.
So it's important enough for God to say twice. Now, it says the nations will flow into it. You'll notice the terminology. And this word flow speaks of a joyful assembling together, that is, people wanting to go to the house of the Lord, not I have to go to the house of the Lord.
It's the millennial kingdom. It's the kingdom age. I have to go to Jerusalem.
You'll want to go to Jerusalem. Now, some of you are going, I want to go to Jerusalem now. It's interesting. You're probably a minority. I know most every Christian that I know, evangelical, at some point in his or her life would love to take a tour of Israel.
But when you tell your friends, I'm going on a tour of Israel. They're going to say, many of them, are you nuts? It's dangerous over there.
And then you'll say to them, well, where are you going on vacation? And they'll go, Los Angeles. The security is way better in Israel than it is in the streets of Los Angeles.
You're safer in Israel. I would let my wife, kids, and grandkids walk the streets in Jerusalem, not Los Angeles. But there's going to come a day when everybody's going to want to go to the house of the Lord, to Jerusalem.
God's plan not only includes Jerusalem, but a little town mentioned in chapter 5, verse 2. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah--" if you've ever wondered what that means, that is sort of like the county name.
So there were two Bethlehem's, one in the South and one in the North. The one in the South is Bethlehem of Judah, or Bethlehem Ephrathah. The one in the North was only, get this, about four miles north of Nazareth in the area of Zebulun.
So you have Bethlehem of Zebulun. You have Bethlehem of Judah, or Bethlehem Ephrathat. That is still a city, or a township, that is used today. That name is used in that area today.
"Ephrathah" means "fruitful." So "Bethlehem" means "the house of bread." Just listen to the language-- the house of bread in fruitful county.
O you house of bread in fruitful county, "You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you will come forth to me, the one who is to be the ruler in Israel, whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting." So the future ruler of Israel will be born in the house of bread in fruitful county.
This prophecy was written 700 years before Jesus Christ. How do you get two people living in Nazareth to have a baby born down south, 90 miles away in Bethlehem?
Well, you manage to have them both from the lineage of King David, who is from Bethlehem. And you have a king in Rome come up with an idea. Let's take a census of the world and make populations move back to their towns of origin, of biological origin, their family tree.
So that would force Joseph and Mary to leave Nazareth and go to Bethlehem because they're from the town of David, where David was from. So you get Augustus to make the census. Joseph and Mary move down out of Nazareth to Bethlehem. And they're going there on a donkey.
And I sometimes think, man, she's almost like, full term, riding this crazy donkey. I know the terrain. It's rough. It's tough. One slip of the donkey, and this prediction ain't never gonna happen.
But God preserved that family. And Jesus was born in that town.
Now, notice what it says. "Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." This language is picturesque. This speaks of pre-existence, that Jesus came in time but existed before time. He came in the incarnation.
I mentioned Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah. Remember what Isaiah the prophet predicted? "Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. The government will be upon His shoulders."
His" name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His kingdom, there will be no end, upon the throne of David to order it and establish it. From this time forth, even forevermore, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
So a child is going to be given. A baby is going to be born-- same person. He's going to be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father. All of that language and this language speaks of pre-existence and incarnation.
Micah, chapter 5, verse 2 was mentioned in a series of writings called the Targums. You've heard me mention Targums before. You go, yeah, I remember that word. But I forget what it is.
So a Targum was an Aramaic translation, or Aramaic explanation, of the Hebrew text. Why Aramaic? Because Aramaic was the language of the captivity, Babylonian captivity, Chaldean language.
So Aramaic was that language that they spoke in captivity. It got brought back to Israel. And so they had all of these translations, or transliterations, of the Hebrew text into Aramaic.
I want you to listen to the Targum of Micah, chapter 5, verse 2, to show you that all of the ancient rabbis believed that Micah, chapter 5, verse 2, was a prediction of the coming Jewish messiah.
For it says this. And here's the translation. "And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you who are too small to be numbered among the thousands of Judah, from you shall come forth before Me, the Messiah, to exercise dominion over Israel, he whose name was mentioned before, from the days of creation."
So way back when, the Jewish sages believed that Micah, chapter 5, verse 2, was a prediction of where messiah would come from. By the time the New Testament rolls around, there's no doubt, because the Wise Men show up in Jerusalem. And Herod's there.
And the Wise Men create a stir when they come. The Magi create a stir because they say, "Where is he who is to be born, King of the--"
"Jews." That was Herod's title that he took upon himself. He called himself the King of the Jews. What? There's another, a rival King of the Jews?
So he goes to his scholars. And he says, where is the King of the Jews? The Messiah, where is he to be born? And they immediately quote to him Micah, chapter 5, verse 2. "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, though you're small, out of Me will come forth this ruler."
So what's amazing about that is these scholars of Herod knew the Bible, knew the scripture, knew the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. It's five miles away from Jerusalem. People walked it all the time. Some still do.
They knew the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem. These magi show up from the east, saying, we're here to worship the King of the Jews. We're following a star. And they go, well, that would be Bethlehem.
But none of them got off their religious duff to walk five miles and check it out, to see if it were true or not-- not motivated at all. Just ah, yeah, somewhere in the Bible.
That could be happening right now, like at your neighbor town. And it was. But they just let it go by.
Now look at verse 4. We go to his Second Coming, mentioned immediately after the First. "And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of Yahweh, the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth."
"And this One shall be peace." Remember, He is called the Prince of Peace. His name will be called the Prince of Peace. "And this One shall be peace."
"When the Assyrian comes into our land--" the Assyrians are the one who came down in 722. Here the word "Assyrian" is used emblematically. It is used representatively of the future enemies that will come.
"When the Assyrian comes into our land, and when he treads our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princely men." So at His second coming, unlike the powerless shepherds or the rulers, the Messiah will bring peace. He will feed his flock.
I love that scripture. And I think it's Isaiah 40. Again, a song we used to sing around here-- he shall feed his flock like a shepherd, and gather them in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with the young.
One of the great titles of Jesus Christ is that he was the good shepherd. And he said, "I lay down my life for my sheep."
So between then, the First Coming of Christ to Bethlehem and the Second Coming of Christ to Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, between those two Coming lay a cross where he would come to atone for the sins of the world, and then come again the second time to rule and reign over those who have been cleansed by it.
I love the picture though of Jesus shepherding his people. The quality of a sheep's life is totally dependent on the quality of character of their shepherd. If you have a lazy shepherd, the sheep will suffer. If you have a good shepherd, the sheep will be blessed and nourished.
And so David bragged in Psalm 23. And he said, "The Lord is my shepherd." It's like saying, look at who my owner is.
I have two dogs at home. And I have become one of those people that just sort of loves, probably, a dog too much. These dogs are spoiled.
/ don't go to the extent to have like a little monogrammed sweaters that I put on them and carry them everywhere that I go, but close. And yet, honestly, if you were-- and don't tell my neighbors this-- but if you were to interview our dogs, either my dogs and my neighbor's dogs, and ask which owner they would prefer, they would say this guy.
My dogs are not complaining that I am their shepherd. I take good care of them. In fact, I think the other dogs in the yards next door bark and moan, just because they wish they were part of our clan.
So like a kid bragging about his dad, David bragged about his dad in heaven. "The Lord is my shepherd. And one day he will stand and feed his flock."
Chapter 6, they begin to plead their case. And they start bragging about their rituals, and the fine oil that they use in their sacrifices, and the bird offerings that they bring.
But look at chapter 6, verse 8. God boils it down and says, "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" One of the great verses of scriptures in the Bible-- three elements that deal with daily life, sums up the whole law.
Basically, you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And you love your neighbor as yourself. That can be summed up by these three-- to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Now go to chapter 7. And let's begin in verse 14, as Micah closes this out with a prayer, his petition. He says, "Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your heritage, who dwell solitarily," or alone, "in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead," two very productive places, "as in days of old."
Now look at verse 18, chapter 7. "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity, passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy."
As Micah closes the book, he closes with a play on words using his own name. Micah, or Mika-- actually the Hebrew pronunciation is not "Micah" but "Meek-eye-yow-ooh," "Meek-eye-yow-ooh." And "Meek-eye-yow-ooh." means "who is like God." That's what his name means.
So using a plan words, he says, who is a God like you? Again, verse 19, "He will again have compassion on us. He will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old."
Every year on the eve of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, Orthodox Jews go to a body of water, either an ocean, river, or lake, something preferably with fish in it, symbolically empty out their pockets as if to cast all their sins out. And they call this service the Tashlikh. The Tashlikh means in Hebrew, "you will cast."
And they recite verse 18, 19, and 20. And it's called the Tashlikh because, notice verse 19, "You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." So can you see them emptying out their pockets? "You will cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea."
I love what Corrie ten Boom said. She said, God cast all of our sins into the deepest sea. Then he puts up a sign that says, no fishing allowed.
So remind your friends that or your spouse of that when they want to say, I remember when you did this, and you did that. Or remind yourself of that when you want to drudge up those things of your past that make you feel like a failure. No fishing allowed.
There in God's deepest sea, let them sink to the bottom and put lead on them. And let them sink. Let them go.
Truth is, God has a big eraser. Jesus said, "God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world. But that the world through him might be saved."
So to answer the question, is there life beyond your trials? Oh, yes. Beyond God moving in judgment would come a glorious restoration in the future-- same with us. Peter said, "If for a while, if need be, you've been grieved through various trials." But those trials are producing something.
The book of Nahum is a message-- that's our second book-- "Na-hum," if you want the Hebrew pronunciation. So we have "Meek-eye-yow-ooh," "Na-hum." And Nahum is a prophecy that Jonah would love to have preached.
It is a message of total wipeout destruction on the city of Nineveh. Jonah did preach to Nineveh, but 150 years before. And he did preach a message of judgment. "40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown."
But Jonah knew that God was merciful, knew that if they would repent, God would relent and not punish them. And that's exactly what happened.
En masse, the city of Nineveh turned. We saw the greatest revival in history when we went through the Book of Jonah last time. But 150 years have come, and they have gone.
And at one time, they repented. But now they have repeated the same sins of their fathers. They're back to where they began. In fact, they're at a worse stage morally than they were before the time of Jonah.
So Nahum, chapter 1, verse 1, and by the way, there's three chapters. If you want to name the three chapters, you could say chapter 1 is the destruction of Nineveh decreed, chapter 2, the destruction of Nineveh described, and chapter 3, the fall of Nineveh, or destruction of Nineveh, deserved, why God is judging them.
Chapter one, verse 1, Nahum-- "The burden against Nineveh," I can just see Jonah salivating to say this. But he's dead.
"The book of the vision of Na-hum," or we'll just say Nahum because we're Americans. "Nahum the Elkoshite--" what is an Elkoshite? It's a dude who lives in Elkosh.
That doesn't help anybody. Where is Elkosh? Well, there's a few guesses. And you can't be certain.
There is a town just north of present day Nineveh called of Alqosh. And Alqosh is-- they still have a tomb to the prophet Nahum. They have an old cave where they say, that's where he's buried. That's one guess.
There is also an Elkosh in Judah, in ancient Judah, though it's uncertain where. That's another guess. That's in some writings.
Or a third possibility-- and I couldn't tell you which is which. And frankly, I don't care. But it's just interesting.
Some believe that he is from the town of Capernaum. Ever heard of Capernaum? It was Jesus' headquarters for 3 and 1/2 years. He moved from Nazareth to the town of Capernaum. When you go to Israel, you'll hang out in Capernaum.
The name "Capernaum" comes from the Hebrew word Kafar, which means the town or the village. Kafar Nahum, the village of Nahum. So because of the name Capernaum, Kafar Nahum, some believe that is where he is from, Galilee, rather than Nineveh, which would make sense as an Israelite prophet.
But I couldn't be certain, just thought I'd FYI that for you. The book begins by describing God's character, which becomes foundational to the rest of the book, the reason he destroys Nineveh. Look at verse 2. "God is jealous."
"God is jealous. And the Lord of avenges." Think of jealousy and vengeance in the purest form, in the burnings, perfect standard of God, not tolerating other gods being worshipped, et cetera.
"The Lord avengers and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries. And he reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power."
Notice both of those things together. He's furious. But he's slow to anger. In other words, it takes gone a long time before he acts.
"And he's great in power. He will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind, and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel," those very verdant places up north, "wither. The flower of Lebanon wilts." The great cedars of Lebanon we're also a very, very verdant place.
So here's the deal. If God can punish Israel, and he did, then certainly he can and will punish Asseria. And the capital city of Asseria was Nineveh.
A lot of times people think that God is passive, that God is weak. And yet, do you know the Bible calls God jealous eight different times? Why would you use that term referring to God? Simply this-- God wants no rivals.
If the Lord went to the extent of making sure that you could be purchased by the blood of His perfect son, Jesus, so that you could be in heaven with him forever, then for you to worship any other God is like the biggest affront possible to him. He wants absolutely no rivals.
That's the First Commandment. "I am the Lord, your God. You will have no other gods before Me or besides Me."
Verse 7 balances out the characteristics. "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. And he knows those who trust in him."
Now, it's interesting. Martin Luther, during the Great Protestant Reformation, the seeds of the Reformation found this verse, what he called a great consolation, or overflowing with consolation to him.
Verse 8, "But with an overflowing flood, He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies." And speaking of the sacking of Nineveh by the Babylonians and the Medes, chapter 2, verse 3, I want to point something out.
"The shields of his mighty men are made red, and valiant men are in scarlet. The chariot comes with flaming torches in the day of preparation, and spears are brandished."
Did you know that the Medes and the Babylonians both used the blood of bulls mixed with red dye to stain their shields red, bright shiny red? Why? For two reasons-- number one, it looks cool. That's to intimidate, just this big, red, flashing thing coming at you, number one.
Number two, to conceal their own blood-- so their enemies, if they were bleeding while holding it, it wouldn't get on the shield. Because when an enemy combatant sees blood on his enemy, it invigorates him. It incentivizes him to finish him off.
So to hide one's own blood is one of the reasons that the shields were often painted. Both the Babylonians and the Medes did this.
Verse 9, "Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize."
Verse 10, "She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts. The knees shake. Much pain is in every side. All their faces are drained of color." Very descriptive of the fall of the city of Nineveh.
But there's three words-- did you notice them in verse 10? Empty, desolate, waste-- in Hebrew, those three words sound very similar because the words are a onomatopoetic words. Remember that word, onomatopoeia? Remember your English class, onomatopoetic? That is the word sounds like the description of the activity.
So the Hebrew words are [HEBREW]. Once again, [HEBREW], onomatopoetic words. The words sound like the breaking of pottery. It was meant to be a very descriptive form of communicating.
Chapter 3, verse 1, "Woe to the bloody city. It's all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. The noise of a whip and the noise of rattling wheels, of galloping horses, of clattering chariots."
"Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There's a multitude of slain, a great number of bodies, countless corpses. They stumble over the corpses."
The Ninevites were known for their brutality. Even back during the time of Jonah, 150 years earlier, God said, "Go to Nineveh and cry out because it's wickedness has come up before Me." It's reached a point where I must act.
There is an inscription that is written by one of the Assyrian kings named Ashurbanipal II that describes how brutal their practices were. I'll just read it to you.
"Great is the number of them in the land of Kirhee that I slew. 260 of their fighting men, I cut down with the sword. I cut off their heads. I formed them into pillars. I flayed," that is roasted, "all the chief men of the city who revolted, and I covered the pillar with their skin."
"From some, I cut off their hands and their fingers. From others, I cut off their noses, ears. Of many, I put out their eyes. I bound their heads to posts," that is, tree trunks, "round about the city," end quote.
That's the kind of stuff they were known for. The Ninevites even became adept at skinning the victims and covering their furniture with the skin, the human skin, of their victims.
So God just said, their wickedness has come up before me. There's corpses everywhere. And he pronounces their judgment.
Verse 12, "All your strongholds are fig trees with ripened figs. If they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater." Very descriptive of the walls of this city that were there for strength, would become so weak they would topple just like ripe figs. It would fall off of a tree, and you just open your mouth, and you get to pick the fruit, eat the fruit.
Verse 13 is another kind of a chop. No, it is a chop, indeed, a cut. "Surely, your people in your midst are women." Now, soldiers would not like to hear those words. You're all a bunch of women, when it comes to being able to fight off-- no offense to any women who are in the military, because I know you can be rough, tough, and tumble.
But you get the point. "Your people in your midst are women." Sarcasm would go a long way. "The gates of your land are wide open for your enemies. Fire shall devour the bars of your gates."
We have four minutes to cover the last book-- no problem. Habakkuk-- actually, the Hebrew pronunciation Hav-ah-cook, Hav-ah-cook. Every family have a cook, if that helps. Sometimes those things help.
He is the puzzled prophet. Habakkuk struggles with what everyone struggles with. How can a good God allow evil to exist? A Gallup poll asked Americans a few years ago if you could have a meeting with God and ask Him one question and were confident that he would answer you, what would that question be?
The most frequently asked question people would ask God is why do you allow evil to exist? That's a big one. If only villains got broken limbs, hooray. If only rapists got cancer, hallelujah. There'd be some sort of celestial justice.
But when good people, when children, when God's own people suffer, that's tough. And that's an issue he faces.
Chapter 1, verse 1, the burden, or the Oracle, or judgment, or prophecy. The burden, which the prophet Habakkuk saw-- "Oh, Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear, even cry to You, violence, and You will not save?"
In other words, God, why don't You answer my prayer? "Why do You show me iniquity," verse 3, "and cause me to see trouble, for plundering and violence are before me? There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore, the law is powerless, justice never goes forth, for the wicked surround the righteous. Therefore, perverse judgment precedes."
What he is referring to is sin among his own people, the people of Judah, and principally the city of Jerusalem. The people around me, God's people, are sinning. And God, You're not acting.
It was a time of spiritual degradation, backsliding. There had been a king, a good king by the name of Josiah. You remember him. He became a king when he was eight years old.
At age 16, he enacted spiritual reform. But he's dead, followed by several bad kings, Jehoahaz, Eliakim, who became Jehoiakim, followed by Jehoiachin, followed by Zedekiah, all bad dudes. The nation went downhill. Godly people suffered, while bad people prospered.
So here's a profit sort of like tapping his fingers, going, OK, God. I'm waiting. I'm praying. When are you going to act? When are you going to do something?
So God says, verse 5, "Look among the nations and watch. Be utterly astounded, for I will work a work in your days, which you would not believe, though it were told you. For I am, indeed, raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth to possess dwelling places that are not theirs."
Oh, Habakkuk, I am moving. I am acting. I am going to do something about the ungodliness in Jacob, in Judah, in Jerusalem. I am going to bring an enemy army to take them captive, destroy their city, and give them one big celestial spanking.
Well, that is not what have Habakkuk expected. He thought, I am praying. God will be intervening. And he will be sending revival, like in Josiah's time. Says no, I'm gonna actually send not revival, but retribution. I'm going to punish you guys by 70 years of captivity.
Verse 12, the prophet says, "Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment. O Rock, You have marked them for correction."
You get the drift. Hey, we're your covenant people. We're bad. Granted, I know I complain. But those guys, the Babylonians, way worse. You're using them to punish us?
Verse 13, "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil. You cannot look on wickedness. Why do you look on those who deal treacherously and hold your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?"
Here's an equivalent, perhaps. The United States of America, the churches in America, carnal, obsessed with worldliness-- we could pray. We could complain. And what if God says, OK, I'm going to answer you. I'm sending ISIS to wake you up.
No, whoa, wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Surely You wouldn't do that, God. You get the prophet's dilemma.
Chapter 2, verse 1, "I will stand my watch, set myself at the rampart. Watch to see what He will say. I will answer when I am corrected." It's good to do when you don't understand, just hold that thought. Just stop and think about it.
Do it in the presence of God. Remind yourself of what you know about God, like the prophet did in verse 12. And commit the problem in faith.
"Then the Lord answered and said, 'Write the vision. Make it plain on the tablets that he may run who reads it.'" In other words, take notes. Take large notes. Write big letters. Make a large print edition.
"For the vision is yet for an appointed time. But at the end, it will speak. It will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry. Behold the proud. His soul is not upright in him. But the just shall live by his faith."
This is one of the most important verses in all of the Bible, so much so that Paul the Apostle refers to it three times in his writings. Here's the context. God is saying, I'm going to judge evil eventually, versus 5 through 19, by sending Babylon. But then I'm going to punish Babylon.
Verse 14, "The future is going to be glorious. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, like waters cover the sea." In the meantime, while you're waiting for that ultimate glory-- in the meantime, when it gets really bad, as the pain gets ratcheted up, live by faith.
The just shall live by his faith. Deliverance will come. But it won't come immediately. It will come eventually.
Chapter 3, verse 2, "O Lord, I've heard Your speech and I was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years. In the midst of the years, make it known. In wrath, remember mercy." I'm surrendered to it. It's inevitable. The Babylonians are coming. But in your wrath, remember mercy.
Verse 16, "When I heard," that is, I heard God's revelation, what he told me, "My body trembled. My lips quivered at the voice. Rottenness entered my bones. I trembled in myself that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes to the people, he will invade them with his troops."
When I found out what God was up to, using the Babylonians against us, I lost all my strength. I freaked out-- loosely paraphrased.
But look at verse 17 and 18. "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord."
The word means "exalt." I will spin around and dance for joy in the Lord. "I will joy in the God of my salvation."
He looks ahead to the Babylonian invasions, the destruction of the orchards, the crops, the vineyards. The people are carried away. The flocks are carried away. And he says, OK, I don't know what you're up to. But I resign to live by faith.
And I rejoice not in the invasion, but I rejoice in the Lord. Listen, faith doesn't always understand God's means. But it always trusts God's motives.
So when you suffer, instead of saying, like we always do, how can I get out of this? Say, what, Lord, can I get out of this? What are you trying to show me? What are you trying to build within me?
That's faith. And by faith, I went 4 minutes and 50 seconds overtime. Let's pray.
Father, thank you for our gathering in faith. Thank you father that those who are just, those who are righteous, though they don't understand what's going on around them, that may there be peace inside of them because you are ultimately super intending all things that are going on around them.
May we have confidence in your character, even though we don't understand your ways. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Let's all stand.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig sick of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from the Bible from 30,000 Feet.