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.
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.