Monday, August 13, 2007

His Way is In the Whirlwind

Nahum 1-3

Nahum is an Israelite prophet proclaiming God's vengeance upon the wickedness of the Assyrians; he is also singing of the coming restoration of Israel. The LORD God is the avengeing force that will bring judgment upon Assyria, but it is the caustic cruelty of the Ninevites that is causing their downfall.

Nothing can heal you;
your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you
clap their hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
your endless cruelty.

When bad things happen to people who do bad things, how much of it is God at work bringing mysterious problems into their life, and how much of it is the natural consequences of living a life dripping with wickedness? Nations rise and fall due to their words and deeds; they do good and they do great deeds, they might stay might for a time but if they do wicked, they may conquer and kill for a time, but then their day of reckoning will come.

Nahum calls out the words of a powerful and raging God; not like the one Elijah encounters in the stillness that follows the storm:
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The LORD is slow to anger but great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.

For all the men and women I know who have been bruised, beaten, battered, beleagured, abused, berated, abandoned, and broken...they need to know that the God who made them was sinned against along with them, and he will not let it go unpunished. The LORD gets riled up when the wicked pour out their cruelty on others, just as we should. But here is the catch: God brings justice through his people...when Christians don't step in and stop the bad things in this world, who will? Some do, and thank God they don't wait on us...but when people ask where was God when their life was hell...they are asking where was the Church...where were the Christians...where were the Jesus-followers.

It's hard to conceive of someone calling themself a Jesus-follower, a church-member, if they don't spend part of their life stopping bad things from happening to others, and helping hurt people get healed up.
The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into darkness.

How's that for a description of Godliness? What if that were a required action fo local church-membership?

That last line of the prophecy reminds me of Samwise in Shelob's lair, of Harry Potter and the Horcruxes, of Aslan and the Stone Table, of the Dread Pirate Roberts and the Cliffs of Insanity. It also reminds me of my friends, the ones who keep walking with those in their life who find themselves surrounded my dark times, dark thoughts, and dark futures. They will know that the LORD is good, a refuge...when you are one to them.

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