Have you ever had an enemy? A foe or adversary? Someone or something that stood in your way, oppressed you, kept you down? Someone or something that was unkind or unjust, devaluing or demeaning? Maybe it was a bully at school or at work? Maybe it was a team or an individual that you competed against in a sport or for a position? Maybe it was a circumstance that kept on raising it’s head to stop you just when you got some momentum. Maybe it was a sin that seemed unshakable? Have you ever had an enemy? Do you currently have an enemy?
For many of us, our enemies or adversaries might look a bit differently that they once did, but they still take various shapes and forms. Our adversaries can be both internal or external, personal or common, relentless or situational. Life is full of adversaries whether they be people or circumstances. It doesn’t take much looking to see these in full scope. Turn on the news, open a newspaper, walk down a busy street and signs of adversaries can be all around. It doesn’t take much to see the violence, oppression, and injustice, and anger that many of us both experience and share in on a daily basis. Life can be adversarial.
For the people of Israel, one of their main adversaries was the common nemesis of many during their time of power: the Assyrians. The Assyrian Empire had made a habit of oppressing their neighbors, of victimizing them, disenfranchising them, scorning them, and utterly enslaving them in both chains and fear. Above all, they had no regard for God and definitely no regard for His people. This is where the prophet Nahum steps on to the scene.
So far, in our series on the Minor Prophets, we have seen God’s representatives bring words of judgment, warning, and hard truth to both God’s Chosen People and the surrounding evil nations that will one day answer to His righteous judgement. However, in the book of Nahum, God’s words through His prophet are pointed and direct. They are a drawn sword against the actions, attitudes, and activities of the nation of Assyria. They are also a word of comfort for God’s people who have been oppressed by Assyria for generations.
Nahum comforts God’s people with the idea and reality that God is the Author of Justice and He will repay and enact vengeance on their behalf. The picture we get is that God is fighting for His people against the evil that threatens to engulf them. The book of Nahum brings a comforting word for us today in that God still fights for His people. He still fights on your behalf, against your enemies, foes, and adversaries. It’s what He does. He cannot overlook evil and let it go undealt with; He must act. His perfect justice wins the day.
For His people, God is a shelter from trouble, a fortress in the battle, a shield against those who would try to overrun His plans. In Nahum 1:7-9, it is put this way: “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 the realm of darkness. Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.”
The troubles of this world, the enemy of our soul, the injustice, oppression, and sin that we face, deal with, and are hurt by will ultimately answer to God. He promises to set things right in His time, He promises to comfort those who have been crushed, He promises divine justice in the most perfect way. He promises to comfort you when you enemies and adversaries strike in your life. May each of us lean on the promises of the One who fights for us and is fighting on our behalf.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette