Nahum calls Christ “The Stronghold”

Nineveh, which was founded by Nimrod, was famous for centuries. They’d responded to the Prophet Jonah’s message about 200 years before. Sin abounded again, however, and therefore, the commandments of God were forgotten. Nineveh had walls up to 100 feet high, 7 ½ miles around, and wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast on the wall. The city presented a formidable front to any invader. It had boasted 1200 defense towers and a moat outside the walls up to 140 feet wide and 60 feet deep.

Anyway, in Jerusalem, Manasseh reigned; then his son Amon ruled, and finally, youthful Josiah began his eventful reign. The reformation under Josiah’s leadership caused a great change in the life of the nation. When the Book of the Law was found and read to the people, they had set out to clean up the land, and then set up the worship that was described in the book.

It was written to the Ninevites (who Jonah had a mission to 200 years prior to this). It seems they were back to their old sins again, so God sent another to take care of them. Christ is seen in this book as “The Stronghold.” Man is pictured as an “Apostate.” Nahum 2:2, “For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.” Verse five, “He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.”

The destruction of Nineveh was the theme of the book along with vengeance is God’s! Nineveh had repented in Jonah’s day, but apostasizing had set in against the compassionate God. The period of this Book is about 610-620 BC, which was about 200 years after Jonah’s prophecy warning Nineveh, and a little less than a hundred years when the Temple was restored by King Hezekiah. The other prophets near this era was very limited – it was only Nahum and Zephaniah until about 590 BC when Jeremiah came… Soon, there would be numerous prophets due to the state of the fallen world, especially with the trouble caused by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon – it was literally an “end of the world scenario” at that time.

On every page, we see a vivid picture of Nineveh’s doom, as the judgment of the Lord loomed near, and it is sure and final for vengeance is the Lord’s. Its style was great beauty, especially in poetic imagery, dramatic descriptions, and vivid imagination. Nahum describes the swift and relentless sweep of the enemy with great vividness and color. The teaching value of the book includes that it teaches most convincingly that we reap what we sow, whether as a man or as a nation. It is similar in style to Paul’s warning to the Galatians (6:7-8), for Paul said, “Be not deceived” – which compares to Nahum 1:2-3. There is a limit to God’s patience with sin and unrepentance. God is in control throughout the world. The arrogance that indulges in senseless destruction of life and property angers God. We see seven attributes of God, which include, longsuffering, justice, omnipotence, holiness, goodness, omniscience, and His vengeance.

The portions of utter significance

  • 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” This displays attributes of God; what He’s feeling as this book opens, so that people are well aware of what is going on from the start. This is a sharp exposition to begin with, and shows that God is not happy.
  • 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Having this verse follow the previous verse shows simply that God doesn’t usually get angry, and it seems His anger is fueled at the troublesome ways of the wicked.
  • 1:6, “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.” This again describes vividly the imagery of His anger. The countering verse follows:
  • 1:7, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” This speaks that the Lord is good overall, and a stronghold in the day of trouble. It speaks for itself and is a good verse. It also said that the Lord knows who trusts in Him, and therefore, it can be said that the Lord does love His People, but just not some of the things they do.
  • 1:15, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” God shall be victorious, and soon a messenger will bring them good news of the overthrow of Assyria – therefore, they can worship God in thanksgiving, sincerity, and joy!
  • 2:3, “The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.” This is very vivid imagery of the uniformed soldiers with their chariots as the enemies approach the city walls – things begin heating up, and this shows something big is coming.
  • 2:10: “She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.” This shows simply the aftermath of this destruction, as the Assyrians were quite cruel and ruthless in their treatment of the nations that they attacked. People just look with horror at the destroyed city.
  • 3:18-19, “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?” We see that Assyria’s leaders will be killed, which leaves those people without a leader and an easy prey for attackers. Therefore, Assyria will fall for the last time, and those who suffered from their cruelty will rejoice headstrong!

People have been plenty warned of God’s Vengeance. This is not the only time when He had to escalate measures to bring His People back into alignment. Here are the other instances (not exhaustive list):

  • Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
  • Psalm 94:1, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.”
  • Exodus 20:5, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
  • Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
  • Deuteronomy 7:10, “And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.”
  • Zechariah 1:14, “So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”
  • Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
  • Hebrews 10:30, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
  • Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

This may seem like a grim book, but that’s the way it was at this state. It’s important to evaluate the cause and effect of pre-salvation. This book sure revealed the state of the world before it was about to go through an extraordinary judgment.

The doctor speaks in defense of the apostles | Acts 5:24-42

“Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

Commentary: Someone had heard that the apostles were teaching in the temple, and went to tell the officials in the prison that the apostles were at the temple. Therefore, the temple leaders left the prison and returned to the temple to find the story true. Soon after arriving, the apostles were captured and taken to the council to be questioned.

The apostles gave their usual testimony of the reason for their faith (see also 1 Peter 3:15). This shocked the temple leaders, which made them feel incredible hostility against the apostles. Gamaliel, a Pharisee, stood up and testified about other people, and told the temple leaders these apostles were similar to those other people who come with their religious things, but if it is not of God, it will not last. On the other hand, if the teaching does prosper, then it must be of God. It would not be wise, he asserts, to fight against God (paraphrased).

Considering what Gamaliel said, the temple leaders warned the apostles again not to speak of Jesus anymore. This time, the apostles were tortured, which appeared to be the first time Christians were tortured for their belief in Jesus. And still… The apostles continued to preach and teach about Jesus Christ in various venues.

Prophetic notes: We see the continual shape of Ezekiel 17:22-24 being formed, as the scripture prophesies that from the Davidic line (of kings) shall God take one, the Messiah (who we call Jesus Christ), and establish a new Kingdom that will bring blessing upon the entire world. The main portion here that is fulfilled is in verse 23, where it states, that they shall dwell in the shadow of the branches. Jesus notes this in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus states He will build His Church upon Himself (Jesus is the rock after all), and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. It appears Gamaliel was sent by God to save His apostles from harm or punishment (as the temple leaders wanted to kill the apostles for their “heresy” to the Jewish law).

The apostles minister, then are imprisoned again | Acts 5:12-23

“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.”

Commentary: The healing ministry of Jesus had worked through the apostles, as they continued to do many signs and wonders that brought many new believers to the church. The different signs and wonders included healing the sick people and delivering unclean spirits from brethren.

Soon, the apostles encountered the high priest with a sect of the Sadducees, which looked at the apostles in disgust… and imprisoned them again. Then, the angel of the Lord appeared and released them from prison, and then commissioned them to go to the temple to stand and preach & teach. The officials came searching for the apostles, but could not find them in the prison.

In this, God showed His Faithfulness to the apostles, and that He could rescue them at any time. The major portion of development for the church was through the apostles, and without this development, God’s Will could not be done properly. God has shown us also that the beginning is the most important part of the work.

Peter gives second grand sermon: You Jews killed Jesus | Acts 3:12-26

“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

Commentary: Peter asked of the people, if they really believed that he or John had healed the crippled man at the gate. Peter said God healed him. In this same speech, Peter began blame the Jews that they killed God (Jesus) when He was man on the earth, and decided to keep a murderer (Barabbas) instead of a healing savior.

Jesus fulfilled all of prophecy about Him (Psalm 22:1); therefore, Peter encourages the people to repent, so the Lord would save them from their iniquity. What Peter is telling them is that they need to change their mind to accept that Jesus is the Messiah, and then receive Salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. Salvation is not of works; therefore, by following Moses’ prophecy, they must know that one shall be saved by faith only in Jesus Christ. Those who reject Jesus Christ will find themselves in Hell (the text renders “destroyed”). Overall, the Jews must realize their heritage, repent from their wicked ways, and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 9:4).

Historical notes: The Jews have called Samuel the “master of the prophets.” Acts 3:24 mentions Samuel, who had referenced the coming of a great Savior in his books (2 Samuel 7:13). Also, the mention of Abraham in verse 25 (see Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16).

Other notes: In Acts 3:19, the mention of “times of refreshing” or “seasons of refreshing.” This is referring to the time of comfort and refreshment for God’s People, when the world is mostly at peace, and many judgments have ended. In history, the following have recurred several times: A. Man is fallen in great sin; B. God sends judgment upon the sinful; C. Many people come to Salvation in Him; and D. The judgment ends when God is satisfied.

Apostles pray for lame man – soon the fight ensues | Acts 3:1-11

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”

Commentary: Peter and John went together to the temple for prayer, and they saw a man born lame (he was weakened in his lower extremity where he was unable to walk), who was at the gate to ask for alms (getting something from people for free because of being poor). Peter and John were asked for alms, to which Peter said to search the two of them – only to find nothing.

Instead of money or valuables, Peter commanded healing in the name of Christ Jesus, and the lame man was helped up and began to gain strength in his lower limbs so much to begin leaping. The formerly lame man went into the temple with Peter and John, and the people there were staring in amazement at the lame man walking again. Questions began, because such healing causing the stir.

Jesus’ First Passover

Image of the Second Temple, Reconstructed by Schematics

Many things are beginning to be interesting in Jesus’ Life. We don’t receive much information about Jesus’ earlier life, except for this main thing: When He turned 12, He was allowed to attend the Passover at the Temple.

Temple Services were only allowed (and required typically) once a boy turned 12 years of age, which is also known (at least to us and generally contextually) for the age of pre-adolescence. Once a child begins to appear pre-adolescent, he/she becomes more accountable in their lives. Such a thing enabled a child to begin maturing much more rapidly and soon approaching their purpose.

For Jesus, this was highly important to begin His Preparation for ministry by training continuously in the doctrines of the Temple before the doctors (teachers).

His parents traveled a days’ journey home before they found Jesus was not with them. Re-read that last sentence. How does that work out? Maybe they trusted He could take care of Himself without their intervention. Nonetheless, when Joseph and Mary journeyed back, they could not find Him amongst the friends and family of theirs. Therefore, they became dumbfounded they had a lost child (and that lost child being the Son of God – this is a big problem they thought).

Quick question of thought: Many people have lost Jesus, but later found Him…? Think about that for a minute. Think Salvation for a moment…

Where did they find Him? In the Temple, busy astounding the doctors with many questions. His inquisitive nature assuredly impressed them. Once Mary asked Jesus why He stayed behind, Jesus questioned her if she was aware He had to be about His Father’s (Father God) business.

He became obedient, nonetheless, and indeed to His parents. He grew in stature and wisdom, because it was highly important for Him to obey man, which was great that He also obeyed God earnestly.

Self-submission was just the beginning and prophecy fulfillment was beginning, as later He would be submissive to His Flock, to His killers, and to God overall in everything.

Many have wondered of His skilled trade in carpentry, to which was the trade of His father, Joseph. All Jewish boys had done this – learning trades of their fathers. It is assumed His work in carpentry involved roof making, boat building, door making, window making, and creating divan frames.

With all that said… Let’s begin our reading today in Luke 2:41-52…

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

PROPHECIES & FULFILLMENTS

The prophecy fulfillments are seemingly innumerable in this instance. Let us read about such fulfillments, in the combined verses of John 13:1 and 18:28, “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.”

Jesus’ First Passover was a prophecy premonition to the much later Passover to occur toward the end of His Earthly Work.

God’s Purposes allow us to see the end from the beginning; however, God’s Guidance in the middle/in the thick of things is what’s most important. Now that we have the premonition in place for Jesus’ Ministry Work and His Future Redemptive Work, we must proceed next week into the beginning of the full preparation of Ministry.

NOTE: To quickly reference the requirements of people at the three feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, look in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16.