“The Lord is good, a haven in a day of distress. He acknowledges those who take refuge in him. With a rushing flood, he will utterly destroy her place and pursue his enemies into darkness” (Nahum 1:7-8, CEB).
Nahum prophesied during a time when Judah was attempting to gain independence from its Assyrian overlords. His prophecy foretold the destruction of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.
Nahum begins his prophecy on the downfall of Assyria by laying a theological framework describing the character of God. In verse 1 Nahum says God is jealous and vengeful, full of wrath, and rages against His enemies. He says that although God is great in power, God is calculating and severe when administering justice: “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can confront the heat of his fury?” (vs 6).
“They asked, ‘What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent'” (John 6:28-29, CEB).
Most Christians are trying to find and do God’s will in their lives. In fact, a lot of our personal prayer and Bible study efforts are focused on knowing and doing God’s will.
As we attempt to find and do God’s will, we have a tendency to gauge whether a thing is God’s will by our circumstances. If things are going our way and we’re successful, then we must be doing God’s will. But if we’re facing difficulties and things aren’t going as planned, then we must be missing God’s will.
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13, NASB).
Recently I told a friend about an important life decision that I had made, yet I hadn’t received specific guidance from the Lord that this was what I should do. In my heart it just seemed to be the right decision and one that pointed in the same direction as God has been leading me.
My friend then quoted Psalm 37:23 (ESV): “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”
At first I thought that doesn’t seem very spiritual. How can the everyday decisions I make be established by the Lord? After all, I make a lot of bad decisions, too!
“The man said to Eli, ‘I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.’ And he said, How did things go, my son?” Then the one who brought the news replied, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken'” (1 Samuel 4:16-19, NASB).
When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites, it was the direct result of the presumption of the Israelites that God was on their side no matter what they did or didn’t do.
The ark of the covenant was the visible sign of the presence and power of God. Until this time the ark had been housed in the tabernacle (tent sanctuary) at Shiloh, where it resided since the Israelites entered the promised land (Joshua 18:1). Now, Israel was disastrously defeated by the Philistines and the elders of Israel realized that the defeat was the work of the Lord.
“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NLT)
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.“ (Luke 12:48, NLT )
These two verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, present the same biblical principle–personal responsibility. It seems we live in an age when people are reluctant to assume personal responsibility for their own negligence and bad behavior. Or when Christians are reluctant to share the good news of Jesus.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NASB).
Whatever you do in life, do it with gusto, do it with enthusiasm, do it with passion! Do the best job you can do, no matter what you are doing! Abraham Lincoln said it like this: “Whatever you are, be a good one!”
And then, do whatever you are doing as if you are doing it for God.
When you become passionate for doing God’s will, for achieving success for God’s kingdom and God’s glory and not just your own, then what you do in life takes on eternal significance and it becomes your God-appointed assignment, God’s will for you. “For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God” (vs. 1).
“See, I have placed the land before you, go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them…See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 1:8,21, NASB).
Most of the book of Deuteronomy consists of speeches made by Moses to the Israelites during the final months of his life and just prior to entering the land of Canaan. This particular admonition to go and possess the promised land, contained notably in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, was repeated twice in the first twenty-one verses.
But, I think it’s also significant because it was not only God’s injunction to the Israelites, but He’s still directing His people in the same way and with the same provocation today. God implores us to possess the promises He has made to us, to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives, to achieve our destiny in Him.
“Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here, this is the man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome” (Acts 25:24-25, NLT).
When the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, he had a hearing before the Jewish High Council. During his testimony before the Council, they began to argue among themselves and Paul was remanded back to prison in Jerusalem.
While in prison, God spoke to Paul in a vision and told him he must preach the good news of Jesus in Rome: “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well” (vs. 23:11).
“Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:30, NLT).
One of the primary priestly functions was to determine God’s will for His people. The priest’s chestpiece provided a container for the Urim and Thummim.The Hebrew words descibing the chestpiece literally meant “chestpiece for decision.”
“Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword…. And Moses built an altar and named it, ‘The Lord Is My Banner.’ He said, ‘Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward the Lord’s throne.'” (Exodus 17:10-16, HCSB).
The Amalekites were probably a nomadic people who resided in the area of the Negev on the northern part of the Sinai peninsula and came down to the southern part of Sinai to attack the Israelites. The attack of the Amalekites was particularly offensive because they attacked the weakest Israelites, the stragglers who were at the rear (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites under the military leadership of Joshua, Moses, Aaron, and Hur were standing on a hilltop watching the battle. When Moses raised his hands holding the staff of God, the Israelites prevailed in battle. When Moses’ arms grew weary and fell down to his side, the Amalekites prevailed in battle.