HABAKKUK: the Watch Tower

Another Babylonian voice that we hear speaking to God’s people is the voice of Habakkuk. Habakkuk’s prophecy represents the frustration of God’s people as they experience God’s discipline coming in a form that seems so unjust and out of God’s character. His cry goes up:
How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

God’s answer is swift and confusing. In a way, God affirms the confusion and bewilderment of Habakkuk, telling him that he could not possibly understand the things that God is up to and the way He is bringing them about.
“Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.
I am raising up the Babylonians…”

But Habakkuk isn’t having it. He lets his chutzpah out and tells God that he wants more of an answer. He says that what God is doing just isn’t right and he needs more of an explanation. He says that he’s going to sit in his watchtower and wait for the LORD to answer his questions in a satisfactory way.

I will stand at my watch
    and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
    and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Habakkuk's encounter with God reminds me of the wrestling match that Abraham had with God over Sodom and Gomorrah; only this time, the outcome and God’s response is quite different. Habakkuk asks for an answer — and an answer he gets.
Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.

“See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright—
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—
indeed, wine betrays him;
    he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
    and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
    and takes captive all the peoples.

And later in chapter 2, God closes His statements with the following challenge:
The Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth be silent before him.

Having been given a glimpse of God’s plan and the slightest taste of God’s feelings about idolatry, injustice, and all things that pull the world apart and fight against restoration, Habakkuk finds himself humbled and at odds to be able to comprehend and understand the mind of God.
I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.

Sometimes, we are invited to catch a glimpse of God’s plan. Sometimes, we are kept in the dark.

Habakkuk catches a glimpse and his knees trembled and his heart pounded. Because sometimes we THINK that we want answers — but we really don’t. We really don’t want to know, and even if we did, we wouldn’t even know where to begin. We wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to stand in the face of the future. I believe that sometimes God keeps the future from us in order to enable us to walk into it. If we knew the kinds of things that waited for us on the other side, we’d never choose to walk through the next door. We’d run for our lives

Luckily, Habakkuk has enough trust in the story that God’s telling. He’s able to catch a glimpse of the future, stare opposition in the face, and know that the story of God will get the last word. He’s able to live in the assurance that he will be able to overcome.

One of the most meaningful passages in the Bible appears as the closing to this prophecy of Habakkuk. It’s a verse that I have carried around as my life verse, that no matter what lies around the bend for my life, my family, my world — we will overcome and pursue the story of reconciliation that God is inviting us into.
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.


LAMENTATIONS: the Hopeful Lament

And then, there’s Lamentations.

Not too many sermons being preached out there on Lamentations. It’s one of those books that you often find hasn’t been read and then you read it for the first time and become shockingly aware that there is some really dark stuff in the Bible.
Jerusalem has sinned greatly
    and so has become unclean.
All who honored her despise her,
    for they have all seen her naked;
she herself groans
    and turns away.

Her filthiness clung to her skirts;
    she did not consider her future.
Her fall was astounding;
    there was none to comfort her.
“Look, Lord, on my affliction,
    for the enemy has triumphed.”

The book of Lamentations is just that — lament. It’s real and it’s raw and it’s a painful cry of sorrow to a distant God who seems to have forsaken the people He so dearly loves.
“Look, Lord, and consider:
    Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
    the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?

“Young and old lie together
    in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
    have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
    you have slaughtered them without pity.

Like I said, not too many sermons being prepared to exegete these passages. And yet, I find it interesting to note that the Bible makes space for this kind of emotion. As we’ve stated before, the Bible doesn’t seem to waste time creating spaces for all people to connect with the presence of God. This isn’t a book that refuses to speak to those who mourn. It’s not a book that demands you get your act together and put a smile on your face first. There’s space for the lament.

For those who have never heard that before — and need to — I’ll say it again: There is space for the lament. It’s okay.

But then, there is the academic conversation that surrounds the book of Lamentations. Each chapter of the five-chapter book is an alphabetic acrostic. That means that each line of the poetic lament starts with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. It’s quite poetic and intentional, but that’s not all. The first and second chapters have 22 verses each (there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet). The third chapter has 66 verses, and the fourth and fifth chapters have 22 each.


And if you already guessed it — well done. The book is also chiastic. Lamentations is a chiastic, alphabetic acrostic.

And the center of the book is just a stunning prophetic message for the people witnessing the destruction of their city by Nebuchadnezzar:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

To crush underfoot
    all prisoners in the land,
to deny people their rights
    before the Most High,
to deprive them of justice—
    would not the Lord see such things?

“… there may yet be hope.”

To those lost in despair.

“… his compassions never fail … there may yet be hope … so great is his unfailing love.”

These are the promises we cling to when we find ourselves in captivity. They are promises of hope. We cling to the idea that death and despair and injustice don’t get the last word. We hope that God’s story doesn’t end with hopelessness and lament. We hope that the lament — while real and raw and vulnerable — doesn’t represent God’s deepest hope for the world. Lamentations invites us to ask ourselves what we really believe to be true about the world. What do we think lives on at the end of the day? What is the greatest reality? What really triumphs? Does darkness and destruction win? Does despair capture our heart? Or do we wake up tomorrow morning believing that there is something bigger — something better — going on in the world? Things are being redeemed. God is not as far off as we might think.

God’s not done with us, yet.

“… so great is His unfailing love …”


JEREMIAH: the Weeping

Now we find ourselves stumbling into the Babylonian time period of prophetic history. It seems like every teacher means something different by their labels for historical time periods, so I should make clear what I mean by these loose designations. You will often find the prophet Zephaniah put in a Babylonian time period, which I would completely agree with. The “Pre-Assyrian” and “Babylonian” time periods of my diagram are pretty squishy and run together. When I speak of Babylonian prophets, I’m speaking of a period of history after Babylon has completed their siege and destroyed Jerusalem.

If you like historical fiction, I would recommend reading The Disciple Scroll by Allan Rabbinowitz. Allan has served as a guide for one of the trips I made to Israel; he has an great grasp of this period of Israel’s history and personal love of the prophet Jeremiah. I found his novel to be a great joy and benefit to helping me understand the life of this prophet.

The contents of the book of Jeremiah span quite a great breadth of history. Jeremiah’s ministry begins before Babylon has begun their siege of Jerusalem. While the writing is on the wall, many people of Israel are continuing to assure themselves that God will spare them just as He did the last time with Hezekiah and the Assyrians. However, this time, they will be lacking the righteous leadership and heartfelt repentance. Jeremiah confronts them about this.

Jeremiah continues to proclaim God’s discipline as the Babylonians set up camp outside of Jerusalem and begin the long process of laying siege to God’s city. Jeremiah’s message is simple: You have failed to repent; God’s discipline is here. The best move for all of you would be to lay down your weapons and head into captivity. There will be much less bloodshed that way.

Jeremiah’s message is so “pro-Babylon” that when they finally lay siege to the city, they leave Jeremiah behind, believing that he is actually an asset to their cause.

Jeremiah will continue his prophetic ministry long after the Babylonians have emerged victorious and Judah attempts to put the pieces back together. Some of them believe that turning to Egypt will save them, but Jeremiah warns against this telling them that their efforts to saddle up with Egypt will be futile. Some of the words of Jeremiah ring with profound poetry even to this day. Here are some words from chapter 2:
The word of the Lord came to me: “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:

“This is what the Lord says:

“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
    how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
    through a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
    and disaster overtook them,’”
declares the Lord.

Jeremiah seems to be a great admirer, especially towards the beginning of the book, of the image of the people of God as a bride. Because of this, Jeremiah is very quick to speak out against Israel’s idolatry. The message against idolatry will be easy to see throughout the book. However, Jeremiah is one of the prophets who appears to seamlessly blend the two narratives we looked at earlier. Jeremiah will move in and out of the conversations about idolatry and injustice as if they were the same conversation. I think there is much to see in Jeremiah’s perspective.

Consider chapter 7 as an example (the whole thing really, but here is the beginning):
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.’”

Somehow, the mistreatment of the alien, the orphan, and the widow is connected to the worship of foreign gods. I think there may be great wisdom in this. When we buy into the false gods that the culture offers us, we will always find ourselves being pulled off course, away from the partnership that God invites us into: this partnership that we have seen time and time again that calls us to trust that we have enough — to trust the story — and look out for the needs of other people. What other gods invite us into such a plan?

Does Baal? Certainly not; he is interested in your own profit and well-being.

Does Asherah? Nope.

How about the god of Consumerism?

Greed? Security? Comfort? Leisure?

Which of these gods invites us to join God’s great redemption project?

Maybe the prophet Jeremiah holds truth that’s still needing to be considered today by many of us. Maybe Jeremiah continues to invite us to cast down our idols and return once again to the path of God:
This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.
    But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

Maybe we’re already in exile and we just haven’t realized it. Read Jeremiah 17, if you dare.

While it’s easy to find words of hope scattered throughout the prophet, Jeremiah does not end with a wonderful poetic piece about restoration. Instead, he foretells the coming destruction of Empire. The way of empire (be it Babylon or anyone else) is not sustainable in the world that God created. Things built on the principles of death and darkness will not stand. God invites His people to walk in the ancient paths and come back to the good way:

“Come out of her, my people!
    Run for your lives!
    Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.
Do not lose heart or be afraid
    when rumors are heard in the land;
one rumor comes this year, another the next,
    rumors of violence in the land
    and of ruler against ruler.
For the time will surely come
    when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
her whole land will be disgraced
    and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
    will shout for joy over Babylon,
for out of the north
    destroyers will attack her,”
declares the Lord.

Words to consider. May we search our own lives to find the dark corners where these messages might still apply. One way or another, our idols of greed and selfishness will come down. Heaven will rejoice over the fall of darkness. Will we rejoice as well?


2 ISAIAH: the Woes

The last voice in the Assyrian time period is the voice of 2 Isaiah. (If you missed our post talking about the different voices of Isaiah, click here.) I hinted at this in the 1 Isaiah post, but it would serve us well to say it again: the dating of Isaiah and debate surrounding authorship is incredibly intense. In my experience, it is impossible to choose an option that I feel confident about. There are parts in 2 Isaiah and 3 Isaiah that refer to history which should take place in 1 Isaiah. There are references in 1 Isaiah that simply shouldn’t be there until well into 3 Isaiah. Is this all the work of a redactor? Is it simply the fortune-telling, future-determining prophecy I was taught about (a stand I am unwilling to take — it’s too illogical)? Was the entire work of Isaiah written much later, as if it was written during these different times (a good option to consider, backed up by respectable scholarship)?

All in all, I like to take these three voices and put them in these spots because of how it fits with the narrative. I just like to be up front about that as I make such a subjective move in my material. I invite you to join the wrestling match, but for now, let’s hear 2 Isaiah as an Assyrian prophet.

The message of 2 Isaiah is really straightforward. It is the prophetic message of WOE. In short, woe is intense sorrow and distress. The voice of 2 Isaiah pronounces times of sorrow and tribulation on, well, just about everybody he can think of. The bottom line of 2 Isaiah is that God isn’t happy with the way the world is operating. Everybody is out for their own good. Everyone is taking advantage of their neighbor. Nobody seems to be interested in the project of redemption.

And God will put a stop to it.

Because He loves this world too much to let selfish, greedy, powerful creatures like mankind hurt other mankind. God loves all His kids — just like I do. And there are moments when I raise my voice and pronounce woes (discipline) on my children. I declare that each of them will now be sitting in timeout so that we can restore order in the house. It reaches a point where it just doesn’t matter anymore who is more right or wrong. Everybody is seeking their own; everyone has gone astray.

And I’m putting an end to it.

“Get in time out! All of you!”

So 2 Isaiah brings woes to Babylon and Assyria, to Philistia, and Moab. God pronounces judgment on Damascus, Cush, and Egypt. He makes sure that Edom and Arabia get some attention before turning His attention toward His own people. Tyre gets what’s coming to it. In fact, in chapter 24, the “whole earth” is going to be cleansed of this chaos.

And then… a little glimmer of hope.

But the woes aren’t over: Ephraim; Jerusalem; an obstinate people who rely on Egypt for their security and trust in the story of Empire and chariots; the women of Jerusalem who oppress the poor; the Gentiles.

All of these find God’s discipline in the words of 2 Isaiah.

And I suppose now would be as good a time as any to mention how our class will sum up the period of the prophets (we are not done with the period of the prophets — only halfway through). We often refer to this period as a time of “warnings, woes, and hope”. God sends His prophets to issue warning of coming discipline if things don’t change. We know that these aren’t empty warnings, as Judah is able to repent and enjoy God’s protection and security. In short, the warning is not an empty gesture. Then, when God’s people refuse to heed the warning, they find themselves coming under woes. Finally, as the people of God experience His discipline, they are entrusted with messages of promise and restoration — and a chance to be part of a new tomorrow; they are given hope.

If you were to go back and look at that graph of the prophets, you could say (in an oversimplified sense) that the Pre-Assyrian and Assyrian time periods are God’s messengers of warning. The Assyrian and Babylonian time period will serve as God’s message of woe. And the Exilic time period will bring God’s message of hope.

The question we find ourselves wrestling with today is whether the voice of the prophets rings just as loud and as clear as it did for the people of Israel and Judah over 2,000 years ago. Voices like 2 Isaiah serve as invitations for us to realize just how seriously God takes this mission of justice and redemption. God was looking for partners and He had found one. That partner gave it all up to try to build their own empires. And God wanted to fulfill the covenant He had made with all of creation.

And so He invites us back. He invites us to t’shuvah. His invitation never ends. His insistence that creation is worth fighting for never wanes.

He will go to great lengths to convince us to join Him.

But the choice is ultimately yours.

And it will come down — on every level — to trust.


ZEPHANIAH: "T'shuvah"

At this point, God turns His attention, yet again, to the people of Judah. They heeded the call of the prophets once. Hezekiah led some reforms that actually enabled the people of Judah to enjoy the forgiveness and provision/protection of God. As the people of Judah humbled themselves and tore down every idol, God heard the cry of their king and rescued them from the hand of the Assyrians.

But their obedience was short-lived. Not long after Hezekiah’s illness, foolish decisions with the Babylonian envoys, and eventual death, Manasseh comes to the throne and wastes no time in turning the people of Judah from the story that God has been telling. The narrative heads south in a hurry and the word of Zephaniah is quick to follow.

His message: T’shuvah.

t’shuvah is a word that is most often translated “repent.” The word carries with it the connotation of making a U-turn — turning away from your current path and coming back to God. It is true that in our Western culture, we often think of repentance as being all tied up in confession; while the two ideas often go together, repentance is a much deeper reality than mere confession or apology. We often think of repentance as acknowledging our sin before God and saying we’re sorry. However, the idea of repentance is much more involved. It requires a change in behavior, not just in our thinking. This difference has been talked about often amongst the discussion of discipleship.

However, t’shuvah goes even further than we think. T’shuvah doesn’t just invite us to change our path and make a U-turn. T’shuvah actually invites us to REturn, and this is an important distinction. In fact, a quick survey of the word t’shuvah in the Tanakh will quickly show that it is not uncommon for the word to be translated “return” quite often in the prophets.

God is calling the people to come back home. God wants them to return to the great narrative He’s telling in the world and decide that they want to return as partners in His great project. This is really important, because it calls us to remember the deepest truths of where we started this whole study back in Genesis. God made a GOOD world and invited us to believe it. We were a part of this good world and the idea of t’shuvah invites us to remember that. We are being invited to come back to the thing that is truest about us. This stands in such contrast to the idea of a preacher standing on the sidewalk and calling people to “REPENT!” for how horrible they are, rather than the beckoning invitation of God to come back home.

The call of repentance is a reminder of the most profound truth of what God thinks about you.

God believes you have what it takes. God believes you were made and designed for something better. God knows the plans that He has for you and this isn’t it. You’ve gotten off track and went astray. And God invites you to return. Return to the truest true about how God made you and how God sees you.

Hear the plea of the LORD through the prophet Zephaniah (chapter 3):
Woe to the city of oppressors,
    rebellious and defiled!
She obeys no one,
    she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
    she does not draw near to her God.
Her officials within her
    are roaring lions;
her rulers are evening wolves,
    who leave nothing for the morning.
Her prophets are unprincipled;
    they are treacherous people.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
    and do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
    he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
    and every new day he does not fail,
    yet the unrighteous know no shame.

At least somebody seems to be worried about mishpat — but His own people will not join Him!
“I have destroyed nations;
    their strongholds are demolished.
I have left their streets deserted,
    with no one passing through.
Their cities are laid waste;
    they are deserted and empty.
Of Jerusalem I thought,
    ‘Surely you will fear me
    and accept correction!’
Then her place of refuge would not be destroyed,
    nor all my punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
    to act corruptly in all they did.
Therefore wait for me,”
    declares the Lord,
    “for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
    to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out my wrath on them—
    all my fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
    by the fire of my jealous anger.

But even Zephaniah is not without hope. He ends his prophetic message with these words:
Sing, Daughter Zion;
    shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
    Daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away your punishment,
    he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
    never again will you fear any harm.
On that day
    they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
    do not let your hands hang limp.
The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“I will remove from you
    all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
    which is a burden and reproach for you.
At that time I will deal
    with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
    I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
    in every land where they have suffered shame.
At that time I will gather you;
    at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
    among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
    before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.

This isn’t about endless punishment. It’s about restoration. It’s about coming back home. It’s about remembering where you come from. And God will go to some great extremes to remind you of your Egypts. But once you’ve been reminded of what this whole narrative is about, God can’t wait to bestow upon you the gift of the second, third, and fourth chances.

He’s wanting to care for the oppressed. He’s wanting to hear the cry of the alien, the orphan, and the widow. It’s why He’s placed you at the crossroads of the earth, to be His priests and show the world what He’s like. Woe to us when we become the anti-story, giving the world an inaccurate picture of our God. Do we find ourselves in these places — bowing down to the idols of Empire and Self?

We’re invited to hear the words of Zephaniah.


Return. Come back home. Join the narrative.


NAHUM: "Diyn"

Jonah is held in juxtaposition with another prophet that gets categorized in the Assyrian time period. The prophet Nahum is the other side of the tension, the other side of God’s nature in the cosmic equation of evil. As I have stated before, I adamantly believe that this tension between God’s love and God’s justice is not a matter of equal and opposing forces. God’s love far outweighs His desire to bring vengeance and wrath. I believe the Tanakh is incredibly clear on this point and it is our Western mindset that struggles with this way of thinking. For us, we either want one or the other or complete balance. Yet the message of Nahum stands as a testimony to the way life really is.

We have talked about mishpat, the idea of Eastern, patriarchal “justice.” We have repeatedly made the point that biblical justice is the idea of putting things in their proper place. Mishpat has very little to do with retribution. Mishpat is the rampant idea that runs throughout the Tanakh — much more than any other expression of justice.

And yet, there is another Hebrew expression of justice. Even though it’s used far less often, the word diyn is also used to communicate judgment. While even this word doesn’t carry the idea of retribution, it does have an air of finality. Diyn is a necessary part of mishpat. There are times and places where, in order to restore humanity, in order to pursue mishpat to its natural end, a judgment has to be pronounced and a decision must be made. There comes a time when discussion is over and we need to get on with restoring the world.

This is the message of Nahum. The problem with the book of Jonah is that, while the book explains God’s apparent inaction and unbelievable patience, it still doesn’t deal with the problem of evil that continues to exist. So, while God’s incredible patience is the very thing that gives us so much hope, and while His patience is the very catalyst for mishpat in most situations, our souls still look at injustice and cry out for deliverance.

And God is patient and patient and patient and forgiving and patient and mournful and patient and pleading and grieving and patient…

… and then God acts.

This is the book of Nahum. As the people of Israel look at the brutality of Assyrian warfare and the terrible rule of empire, they cry out for justice. As one more daughter gets raped and one more child is impaled on a pole and one more elderly couple is burned in their home, the people cry out for God’s rescue. And while God sees the incredible potential of each and every Assyrian and patiently waits for them to come to repentance, there comes a time where God announces their coming destruction.

And God sends His message through the prophet Nahum: “Enough is enough.”

And this message to Ninevah will be God’s message of hope to His people, who have now become the oppressed. God, through the voice of Nahum, will poetically announce that He has heard the cry of His people and will bring mishpat. Nahum is here as a proclaimer of God’s diyn.

And I have the same problem with Nahum that I had with Joshua. And yet, I’m left here being reminded of how glad I am that I don’t have God’s job. I would never even begin to know when to show patience and when to bring diyn. I would make a lousy god.
King of Assyria, your shepherds slumber;
    your nobles lie down to rest.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
    with no one to gather them.
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?

And so we have to hold Jonah in one hand and Nahum in the other. We have to hear that God hears the cry of the hurting and promises us that He’s in the business of mishpat.  And He invites us to trust in His goodness and perspective. He invites us to trust in His wisdom and His timing.

He invites us to trust the story.