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.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.