December 22 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“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 Ninevah; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.” ~Nahum 1:7-8

OLD TESTAMENT

Nahum lived and prophesied sometime before the fall of Nineveh in 612 AD. More than a hundred years have passed since the prophet Jonah visited the city, and the Ninevites have resumed their evil ways. In 700 AD, the city became the capital of the vast Assyrian Empire, a warrior people known for their brutal tactics as well as a hunger for power. Thus Nahum says: “Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims…who enslaved nations…” (vv. 3:1-4).

God sets Himself against the Assyrians (Nah. 2:13, 3:5). He mocks them and calls their soldiers a bunch of sissies: “Look at your troops—they are all women!” (Nah. 3:13). Go ahead and fortify the land for war, God tells them, but it will do no good. The military superpower is about to be undone and its economic engine destroyed (note the references to merchants in Nahum 3:16).

All of this is consistent with the character of God as it is expounded in Nahum’s opening chapter. He “is a jealous and avenging God,” who is sometimes “filled with wrath” (Nah. 1:2). However, He is also “slow to anger” and “good, a refuge in times of trouble” (Nah. 1:3, 7). Be assured, God is not schizophrenic! Like any caring father, He has a range of emotions. When His children mess up, He does not immediately destroy them for He is patient. Conversely, when evildoers mess with His children, He is jealous and avenging!

God does not sit in the heavens eager to zap you when you fail. He is slow to anger. So seek and enjoy His forgiveness now! If you have been wronged by someone, be patient, and do not take matters into your own hands. Pray, but do not plot evil. God is protective and avenging. He’ll take down the “sissies” who hurt His people! He will be your “refuge in times of trouble” because He cares for those who trust in Him (Nah. 1:7).

NEW TESTAMENT

The book of Daniel provides information that helps us understand the vision in Revelation 13. In Daniel’s vision, the ten horns represent the secular nations of the world who suppress the gospel message and persecute the people of God. In John’s vision, the beast with the ten horns represents opposition to the people of God by political (and cultural?) powers. The beast probably does not represent a “one-world government” as many suppose. Instead, the Evil One harnesses his power through anti-Christian government policies and practices.

The second beast in Revelation 13 represents the abuse of religion for the purpose of opposing the gospel and the people of God. This is happening right now through the spirit of antichrist in the world. However, with the rise of the Antichrist (and we do not know who that is), God’s people will face even greater opposition to their faith (again, compare Mark 13 and 2 Thessalonians 2). There is every indication that believers will recognize this “beast” of a person through some sort of curious number, although attempts to guess at either his identity or the nature of the identifying mark have all proven futile. It is best to say we will know it when it happens.

The main point of this passage and of the book of Revelation is in verse 10. “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Rev. 13:10). God’s people must be patient and faithful as we face the reality that there is (and will be) ongoing persecution by secular government and deception by counterfeit religion. Jesus wants John and the churches to know that they will face formidable secular and religious foes that will come after them like beasts. He doesn’t want them to be surprised. He wants them to be ready and to be faithful.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.