God’s Less-Popular Attributes

July 19, 2013 at 8:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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The prophet Nahum was from the town of Elkosh, but we don’t know very much about his background – which is okay. When it comes to those who speak for the Lord, His Word is more important than the speaker’s personal experiences.

Just as the prophet Obadiah had pronounced God’s judgment against Edom, Nahum pronounced God’s judgment against Nineveh. Nineveh was a major city of Assyria. Jonah had already gone to them, preaching repentance, and they had repented, but after a little over 100 years they turned again to their evil ways. On a historical timeline 100 years does not seem very long, but many of us have seen people repent in a Sunday morning church service, and turn back to their evil ways by Sunday afternoon!

Assyria had conquered the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722 B.C., and had tried to conquer the Southern Kingdom (Judah) in 701, but the Lord intervened and His angel killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night.

Nahum’s name meant “comfort” or “compassion.” He prophesied during the time of Jeremiah and Habakkuk. If we began to name the characteristics of God (or the “virtues” or “attributes” of God), we would speak of His “glory,” which is sort of the “weight” of His attributes and/or virtues – the “manifest substance” of God – and we would probably think of things like His love, His grace, His mercy, His holiness, His righteousness, His patience, His longsuffering, His faithfulness, His truthfulness. But there are three attributes or virtues of God that are often overlooked.

1. His jealousy

God is jealous…

Nahum 1:2

It is wrong for us to be jealous of what others have, because what they have does not really belong to us. Jealousy in a marriage, however, is not always wrong – especially if it is manifested in a desire to protect the God-ordained relationship. Likewise it is not wrong for God to be jealous. He is the owner of everything, and He wants what is best for His people. In fact, He would be an idolator if He sought glory for anything or anyone else. He is jealous over His glory, His name, and the worship and honor that are due to Him alone.

2. His vengeance

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth…

Nahum 1:2

Vengeance is a sin – for us. Because vengeance belongs to the Lord. All sinners are enemies of God. He has declared peace first, but when man refuses peace, God must declare war. (Psalm 7 is a good place to study this principle.) Because God is holy and just, there must be payment for sin – a price must be paid. Unsaved sinners raise their weapons against God, and His wrath is aimed back at them. If they put their weapons down, but do not come to Him in repentance and faith in Jesus, His wrath is still directed at them. A righteous judge does not let a lawbreaker go free just because he is sorry and says he won’t do it anymore.

3. His anger

God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.

Nahum 1:2

Our anger is almost always close to sin. It usually tips over into sin because we are selfish and because we lack self-control. But there is an anger that is motivated by, and manifested as, righteous indignation. God doesn’t throw a “fit” or a temper tantrum. He is slow to anger – not because His fuse is slowly burning – but because it is His nature to offer repentance and mercy. Assyria was God’s weapon. He used the Assyrians to chasten His people, but they themselves became proud, and pride is an abomination to God.

This was His declaration of peace:

Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Nahum 1:15

This was His declaration of war:

He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face: keep the munition, watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy power mightily.

Nahum 2:1

The “he” in that verse is Nebuchadnezzar, who was being temporarily used as God’s weapon, and God’s warning is in the form of ridiculing Assyria’s pride. Assyria’s pride took God’s staying hand of patience away from them, and caused God to deal with their sins, including their unwarranted bloodshed.

Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

Nahum 3:1

He also punished them for their idolatry.

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Nahum 3:4

Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy. All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.

Nahum 3:11-12

The cup of God’s wrath must be drunk by the sinner unless there is a Savior to drink it for him.

Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars.

Nahum 3:13

Domination of the weak will lead to God treating us the way we have treated them. We must teach this to our children. Teach them that they must take up the cause of the weak and protect the weak.

Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. at the hands of the Medes and Babylonians, and Assyria fell in 609.

Lord, bless each and every person who reads this. Thank you for divinely ordaining the Church, and making a symptom and evidence of our belief in You the love we show for each other. I pray that we will submit one to another, in love preferring one another, not just on this day, but every day, for this is right in Your eyes, and we bring glory to You by doing what is right in obedience. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Castaways

May 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Posted in Romans | 4 Comments
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God gave Israel three chances to accept salvation by grace through faith.

1. They fell.

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Romans 11:11 (emphasis added)

2. They were diminished.

Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Romans 11:12 (emphasis addded)

3. They were cast away.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15 (emphasis added)

I remember watching a television show called “Gilligan’s Island,” which was about a group of “castaways.”

Gilligan's Island

These castaways hoped to be rescued from the desert island where they had landed, but they kept trying to accomplish their rescue on their own. Did other people stop taking cruises until Gilligan and his friends could be found? No. God protected them while they were on the island, but He still blessed others while the castaways were hidden – they were kept safe, but secreted away. In a similar way, the gentiles received the opportunity for salvation partly because Israel fell, became diminished, and became castaways.

The idea from Romans 10 that the gentiles were to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy is reiterated in Romans 11:11. As a Christian, is your life provoking anyone to jealousy?

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Romans 11:13-14

Many mistake the teaching of the Holy Spirit through Paul to mean that saved people should sin with the sinners in order to develop a relationship with them that will open the door to present the Gospel. That is not what these Verses are teaching. The Apostle Paul “magnified his office.” He openly proclaimed to the gentiles, while he was among them, that he was an Apostle to them. But he also hoped his fellow-Jews were watching. Some of the gentile customs would have been personally offensive to Paul, but if the Jews could see the lengths he was going to in order to bring them the Gospel, they might become jealous and get interested in the message of the Cross, too.

And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

Romans 11:9

The Jewish “table,” which should have been a place of spiritual nourishment, had become a trap or a snare. The Jewish leaders added to the rituals and the traditions, but they did not add in the nourishment of the Word of God.

Romans 11:16-24 contains the allegory of the olive tree. The gentiles have been “grafted into” God’s tree of salvation, but the gentiles have no grounds for boasting, and they must not forget the importance of Israel in God’s plans.

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