Thursday, March 3, 2016

Too Far Gone To Save

Nahum 3:1-19

“Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots.  The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: 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 3:1-4)

In Nahum’s day, Nineveh was one of the largest cities in the world.  We are told that the roads coming into the city were marked with the skulls of people who had been murdered by the Assyrian government.  When they conquered a city they murdered all those who opposed them as well as their families and survivors were relocated to prevent future uprisings.  For centuries, they had dominated the entire region.   There were constant reminders of the military power. 

The Assyrians adopted and assimilated the religions of the various peoples they conquered, including the Jewish religion when they conquered Israel.  They then used those their victories over those groups, and their worship of their gods to undermine and intimidate other groups. 

“Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.  And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.  And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?” (Nahum 3:5-7)

Because of their wickedness, God was going to reveal the reality that they were inot really any different than the countries they had conquered.    All the fear and respect would be turned against them in hatred and loathing.  The inhabitants will be forced to flee, and the world will have no pity on them. 

“Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?  Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.   Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.” (Nahum 3:8-10)

At one time the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes was known as No-Amon or simply No.   They controlled Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.   At times their influence extended far beyond the, even conquering Assyria for a brief time.   Later the city of Thebes was completely destroyed, about 666 BC.  Nahum warns that Nineveh will face the same judgment No did. 

“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.  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 3:11-13)

Nineveh will be like a drunk when trouble strikes, trying unsuccessfully to hide from their enemies or looking for someone to help them.  The forts they counted on for protection will be taken like overripe figs falling from the trees.   The people have gotten so used to having control they will be unprepared to defend themselves, and over confidence will prevent their closing the gates in time for protection. 

“Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln.  There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts.” (Nahum 3:14-15)

If Nineveh is to survive they need to take action immediately, storing up water for the time when they are surrounded, They need to reinforce their military forces and build additional , and build additional walls and bunkers.  The attack will be like a fire in the grass, killing the insects that lurk there.  They will need to be as thick as canker worms or locusts to survive. 

“Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and fleeth away.  Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are.” (Nahum 3:16-17)

Instead of concentrating on protecting what they had, the Assyrians in Nineveh had become complacent, with everyone concentrating on making money in business.  Politicians and leaders were as thick as grasshoppers, crouching in the bushes and eating everything in sight when it was cold but when things were good scattering to the four winds. 

“Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them.  There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” (Nahum 3:18-19)

The people who should have been taking care of the country’s business were sleeping, and the political leaders were living in the moral wickedness of the world.  The people had scattered, looking for something better, and nobody was working to unite them.  The harm to Assyria and Nineveh would be fatal, and there was no cure.  The rest of the world would rejoice at her fall because they had been hurt by her power.  

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