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From “Christ is Everything to His Followers.” Used also at Belhaven University and in counseling and prison ministry.
We gave an overview of the Old Testament (“OT”) book of Nahum elsewhere in class. Now let’s look at just one verse in three bites. It’s a favorite Scripture of mine, used often in pastoral ministry and I ask God the Holy Spirit to bless His truth and give us burning hearts for Jesus. To make us overflow with thanksgiving. To give us joy greater than words and full of glory.1 To help us pray to Christ and follow Him for the rest of our lives on Earth or until Jesus comes again. Each phrase is sweet and satisfying. Please enjoy it with me.
The LORD is good, A refuge in time of trouble; And He cares for those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)
Christ-centered Approach to Scripture
Nahum’s little prophecy was written about 600 BC, but the Lord taught that all the Old Testament points to Him (Luke 24:25-49) The whole OT finds its fulfillment in Christ’s sinless life, His substitutionary death on the cross, His resurrection, His intercession, His sending the Holy Spirit, and His Second Coming at the end of this age. So I take a Christ-centered approach to this OT verse in Nahum.
Jesus says that all the Bible tells of the abundant life He gives to whoever repents, believes, and follows Him. He is the greatest news of all eternity. I am writing mostly to Christians, but Jesus invites all non-Christians to become His followers too. Whoever calls on the Lord will be saved and eternally blessed.2
Christ’s Goodness Contrasted with God’s Wrath
Jesus says that He is good in this verse and that is shocking, because most of Nahum’s prophecy is about the Lord’s anger, God’s strange work of judgment.3 He punishes people who persist in rejecting Him. In Bible times, many people were idol worshipers. They sacrificed children to false gods, they lied to God and to each other, they oppressed the poor, and they made no room for God in their thoughts.4 It sounds like 21st century in America. So Nahum announces that if people refuse the Lord, God will condemn them to Hell.
But Christ also sends Nahum to bring good news! Nahum’s name means comforter in Hebrew and he lives in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. That is where Jesus comes 600 years later—showing, telling, being wonderful news. Christ reaches out to wayward people like us who turn from our trespasses and turn back to God.
Nahum points to Christ, 600 years ahead of time.5 Jesus is God’s Son, who comes down to be the Bridge between us and God. Christ lays one hand on His Father and one hand on us,6 to reconcile us to God and to remove God’s curse, so we’re not terrified any more.7
Christ says: I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life, that you and your children may live.8 He says: Love Me. Listen to My voice. Hang on to Me. I am good. Jesus says: I am the compassionate and gracious God. I am slow to anger and abound in love and faithfulness. I show love to a thousand generations, and forgive wickedness, rebellion and sin.9 Jesus says: I am good. I love you and want to bless you. If you are spiritually thirsty, come to me and drink. Trust in me and streams of living water will flow out from within you. I am your life.10
Christ’s Love is Shown in His Incarnation
Jesus proves His goodness in creating and providing for us so generously. And Christ proves His goodness most of all by coming down to save us from our sins. Remember, Christ’s greatest miracle is His incarnation, His taking on full humanity. God’s Son freely leaves His throne above. Nothing is subtracted, but He adds on human nature. God’s Son is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. One God in three persons, blessed Trinity! But Christ doesn’t cling to His privileges; He makes Himself nothing, a servant, a poor man, a carpenter.11 And Jesus obeys God’s Law that we have broken and suffers God’s punishment that we deserve. Philip Bliss’s hymn says it well:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood,
Jesus sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah! What a Savior!12
Believers are saved by God’s amazing grace! Holy Jesus suffers Hell’s equivalent that we deserve.13 And He rises from the grave victorious, to prove His sacrifice is accepted by God. And Christ sends His Holy Spirit to gather in God’s lost sheep,14 and the Spirit keeps us safe until the Lord returns for us,15 and the Spirit who began a good work in us, carries it on to completion.16
Amazing grace! Christ took up our sins and sorrows; He was pierced for our wrong; He was crushed for our immorality; and by His wounds we are healed. It’s God’s marvelous exchange: Jesus takes our trespasses upon Himself and we receive His perfect righteousness by faith.17
We are like wandering sheep. Let us admit it. We leave God’s path to go our own way.18 And Christ brings us back again, again, and again.19 Jesus saves to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. He always lives to intercede for us20 because He is good, full of love, mercy, and peace for you and me.
Let Us Invite Others
Christians are no better than other sinners. So we must never be proud or act like we deserve anything from God. We are simply guests at Jesus’ table of grace and we invite others to Him who saved us. We are beggars telling other beggars where to get Christ, the Bread of Life.21 No true Christian wants to follow Christ alone or go to Heaven alone.
Nahum 1:7 says: “The LORD is good, a refuge in time of trouble. And He cares for those who trust in Him.” Let us trust and obey Jesus Christ and live in His perfect peace.
We’ll come back to this Scripture again next time.
Note: Some of these footnotes are quotations, others are allusions to the verses below and not full quotations. Various translations are used. Some are my own translation or paraphrase.
1 1 Peter 1:8 2 Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Rom 10:13 3 Is 28:21 4 Ps 10:4 5 1 Pet 1:11 6 Job 9:33 7 Gal 3:13; 2 Tim 1:7; 1 Jn 4:18 8 Deut 30:15 9 Ex 34:6-7, Ex 20:6 10 John 4:14; 7:38 11 Phil 2:6-8 12 Man of Sorrows, by Philip Bliss 13 1 Cor 15:3; Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:21 14 Acts 16:16-34 15 Eph 1:14 16 Phil 1:6 17 2 Cor 5:21 18 Isaiah 53 19 Luke 15:1-7 20 Heb 7:25 21 John 6:35