Wednesday, January 23, 2008
What is this passage all about?
Nahum prophesies of the fate of the Ninevites after the city's fall.
What can I learn from it?
The elements of this chapter that really make their mark on me are Nahum's explanation of Nineveh's sin which led to God's wrath. The destruction is (v4) "all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft." I am not sure whether this refers to the sin of an individual, because the following verses seem to be using personification to describe what was to happen to the entire city (esp v7), rather than describing what was to happen to a particular person (as might be indicated by v5). Back in 1:11, there was a reference to an individual, "From you, O Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the LORD and counsels wickedness." (In my possible extended chiastic structure - see below - 3:4 and 1:11 are paralells of eachother). If these sins are those of an individual, then the are most likely to be interpreted exactly as they read (ie prostitution, sorcery, witchcraft, drawing people into thesticky web of the cult of the individual). However if 3:4 refers more generally to Nineveh's entire population, the sins might be interpreted more metaphorically (ie general paganism and its common manifestations).
There is another description in this chapter of the actions of the people of Nineveh. Its merchants and guards are described like locusts (v15b-17), stripping the land and then flying away (esp v16b). Could the greed of Nineveh have been one element of it's sin which brought God's judgement?
Finally, Nahum reflects upon the response of other nations to Nineveh's fall (v19b): "Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?" Another of Nineveh's sins has been clearly described here: the endless cruelty of Nineveh over other people and nations.
On first read through I could not see anything that might expand the chiastic structure that I found yesterday, but on taking a closer look I think there are some paralells between chapters 1&3, so the chiasm might extend out through the entire book. I'll attempt to post my ideas on this structure seperately when my brain is functioning better and I have time.
How can I apply this to my own life?
The list of Nineveh's sins is thus:
2. Sorcery and witchcraft
3. Cultic practices which draw people in (and away from God)
If I'm honest with myself, I have been guilty of some of these sins in the past, and one or two I am still guilty of today. In particular the last two. I really don't want to think of myself as being just the same as Nineveh, but ...