If you’ve been a part of churchgoing for any length of time, you are probably familiar with the thinking about the Old and New Testament that goes something like this…
“Do you really believe in the ‘God of the Old Testament’? I mean, he seems so ticked off all the time! All that vengeance, and wrath, and anger. All those times where he orders the extermination of whole cities, and sometimes wipes them out himself (see Sodom and Gomorrah).
I much prefer the ‘God of the New Testament’. You know, Jesus. There is someone I can follow. He was loving, kind, compassionate, and accepting. With Jesus, everyone was welcome.”
When you open up the book of Nahum, he appears to present to us very clear evidence of this ‘God of the Old Testament.’ For example:
Yahweh is a jealous and avenging God;
Yahweh is avenging and wrathful;
Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
3 Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power,
and Yahweh will by no means clear the guilty.
Who can stand before his indignation?
Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
With an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of the adversaries,
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
9 What do you plot against Yahweh?
He will make a complete end;
trouble will not rise up a second time.
10 For they are like entangled thorns,
like drunkards as they drink;
they are consumed like stubble fully dried.
(Nahum 1:2-3, 6, 8-10; English Standard Version)
And that is just a small portion of Nahum’s vision of God!
But what if this approach — to try and separate out an ‘Old Testament’ and ‘New Testament’ God — is far too simplistic? What if God is actually consistent in both his mercy and wrath across the Whole Story? And what if — think about this — what if God’s wrath is actually good news?
I encourage you to watch or listen to my sermon on the book of Nahum. Instead of trying to ignore the Old Testament when it comes to our understanding of all of who God is, we wrestle with these texts that can be difficult to hear, study, and comprehend. And as we do, I think you will agree that the only hope we have in the face of the righteous wrath of the Divine Warrior is that Divine Warrior himself.
For further study on Nahum, head over to our friends at The Bible Project. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this book, as well as all the books found in The Whole Story of God (which we call the Bible).
Finally, just a reminder that this coming Sunday we will turn our attention to Habakkuk. Be sure to read it a few times this week (since it is only three chapters long) so that you may come with a ready and expectant heart as we gather together Sunday morning at 10:30am at Calvary. In addition, be sure to check out episode two of their “The Story of the Bible” series. It will help you place Habakkuk in the overall flow of the story of the Bible.
This coming Sunday we move into a new section of our journey through the Whole Story. Namely, those letters written to the churches of the first century, in whom were the People of the Kingdom.
Most studies put the percentage of the American public in a church on Sunday morning at around 20%. Which means 80% of the population in our country—and likely it's the same in our community—are not in a gathering like this this morning.
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