An important goal of Bible study is to make application to our lives. In studying the Bible, you and I need to intentionally seek lessons and principles that will strengthen and embolden us. This is the focus of this study from the books of Micah and Nahum.
Micah 1:1 states, “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” He prophesied for between thirty and forty years (740 – 700 B.C.) Judah was facing some serious challenges. Micah’s task was to cry out against the sins of Samaria and Jerusalem. The Believer’s Bible Commentary summarizes the conditions of this time: “By the eight century B.C. the old agricultural system in Israel and Judah, with its fairly even distribution of wealth, was gradually replaced by a greedy materialistic, and harsh society that split the people, sharply into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ The rich land owners got richer and the poor farmers got poorer” (p. 1132).
Please consider the following two lessons from the book of Micah:
The Proper Treatment of People. The arrogant and ruthless treatment of people is indicative of a lack of character. Micah 6:8 has appropriately been referred as the “Golden Rule” of the Testament: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Warren Wiersbe states that the Lord’s parable about the Pharisee and the publican in the temple (Luke 18:9-14) illustrate the three points of Micah 6:8 (The Bible Exposition Commentary, p.399). The people had been sufficiently taught, but they needed to apply the message to their lives. Brother Wayne Jackson mentioned that this text emphasizes three things: action, attitude, an obligation (The Prophets, An Old Testament Commentary, Volume IV, pp. 432-433).
A Biblical View of God. As a photograph can be out of focus, so also is the attitude of some people about God is “out of focus.” From an attitude of disgust and disenchantment, some people view God has a cold-hearted tyrant. The passage under consideration in this section is Micah 7:18-20. A proper view of God is always at the foundation of a strong and abiding faith.
Our minds are not able to even begin to contemplate the greatness of God. From the aforementioned text, Micah exultingly declares that God pardons sin. In verse 19, notice the beautiful language regarding how God pardons our sins, “You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea.” His attitude is compassionate. Wayne Jackson’s comments are helpful in understanding the scope of the compassion of God, “The term denotes a deep feeling of mercy available for those who lovingly submit to him as their God” (ibid., p. 435). The book of Micah concludes by declaring that God would fulfill His promises He had made to Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 12:3; 28:14).
Jack Lewis states regarding the date of the book of Nahum, “It would seem likely that the book is just before the fall (of Nineveh), or about 612 B.C.” (The Minor Prophets, p. 53). Approximately one hundred years before Nahum, Jonah told the people of Nineveh, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The immediate result on the part of the people, including the king, was repentance and contrition. The result was that God saved the city (Jonah 3:5-10). But this was not the result of Nahum’s preaching.
At the this time the conditions of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, were disgusting and repugnant. Therefore, Nahum’s message is characterized by doom and condemnation. His mission was to announce the overthrow of Nineveh. Jack Lewis sets forth the book in the following fashion, “After the introductory verse (1:1) the book falls into two sections, the first of which (chapter 1) deals with a theophany – the coming of the Lord in judgment – before whose wrath the physical world trembles, while the second (chapters 2 and 3) describes in vivid detail the downfall of Nineveh despite its frenzied defense. The book ends with an epitaph to Nineveh (3:18 f). (The Minor Prophets, p. 56).
Please consider the following two lessons from the book of Nahum:
We Reap What We Sow. Galatians 6:6-7 warns, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Due to their hardened hearts and exceeding sinfulness, God was going to overthrow Nineveh. Therefore, Nineveh was told, “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard” (2:13). Examining ourselves in light of God’s ways (2 Cor. 13:5) is crucial to staying attuned to our spiritual condition. The wickedness of Nineveh should be a warning to us to make sure that our walk with the Lord is sincere and strong.
The awfulness of arrogance. Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” God’s message to Nineveh was pointed: “Are you better than Thebes (NKJV – No Amon) that sat by the Nile, with water around her, her rampart a sea, and water her fall?” (Nahum 3:8). Though this was directed to Nineveh, this mindset was also true of Thebes. The example of Thebes is detailed in verses 8-10. Nineveh was blind to their true condition. The foundation of their trust gave them a false sense of security. The consequences of Nineveh’s arrogance are detailed in verses 11-19.
It is not an exaggeration to state that arrogance is a “gateway attitude” that can have significant spiritual ramifications. To guard against this attitude from entering into our lives, you and I must realize the dastardly designs of Satan (2 Cor. 11:14, 1 Pet. 5:8). Also, we must guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23) and constantly remember our dependence upon the Lord (James 4:6-8).
Of the two books treated in this article, Nahum is studied far less. These books contain more than history that some people mistakenly consider dull and dry. There are lessons here that will strengthen us in living closer to God.
Bruce preaches for the Bellville Church of Christ in Bellville, TX.