Nahum 1:1-8 (click on Nahum for passage)
‘’The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away.’’ (5a)
Here are firm, steadfast things; things that endure, that remain: ‘’…mountains…and…hills…’’. Later this year, God-willing, Jilly and I will be travelling to Saas Fee in the ‘Valais’ region of Switzerland, and then we hope to move on to Wilderswil in the ‘Bernese Oberland.’ It is some twenty six years since I was last there, but I don’t expect much to have changed; at least not in the physical features of the landscape. The towns and places nestling at the foot of these ‘mountains’ and ‘hills’ will have altered somewhat, but I expect the mighty peaks to look the same. So we can say that things that don’t change, or don’t change quickly or perceptibly, can change by God’s presence and power. He is ‘’great in power’’ (3a). God can deal radically with our longstanding problems and immoveable difficulties.
There are things in life that we can’t change. There are big things we can’t alter. They are much bigger than us and tower over us, leaving us in their dark shadows. ‘Mountains’ may represent the larger difficulties, but ‘hills’ can still be sizeable. It’s an awesome sight to be in Grindelwald and look up to see the snow-capped ‘Eiger’, ‘Monch’ and ‘Jungfrau’. They cause you to feel dwarfed. But I can also feel little when I’m driving down the road from Skipton to Kendal, and I see Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent to my right. But God can deal with these big realities that are too big for us. The words ‘’quake’’ and ‘’melt’’ speak of powerful action. (Look also at the language used in verses 4, 5b, 6b and 8). God can do what we can’t. He is able.
But although it is consistent with the teaching of Jesus that mountainous obstacles can be moved in response to faith (Mark 11:22-25), and I feel it right to emphasize this truth, we must not miss the main point that the passage is about God’s judgment on Nineveh. Great cities, empires, power structures in this world will not last forever. In due course all that opposes God will be defeated. The only way of escape is to take ‘’refuge’’ in Jesus (7).
GOD is serious business. He won’t be trifled with…He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power. Still, no one gets by with anything. Sooner or later, everyone pays.’’ The Message. God’s patience should not be confused with indulgence (3).
‘’The stage of history is large. Larger-than-life figures appear on this stage from time to time, swaggering about, brandishing weapons and money, terrorizing and bullying. These figures are not, as they suppose themselves to be, at the centre of the stage – not, in fact, anywhere near the centre…At any given moment a few superpower nations and their rulers dominate the daily news. Every century a few of these names are left carved on its park benches, marking rather futile, and in retrospect pitiable, attempts at immortality. The danger is that the noise of these pretenders to power will distract us from what is going on quietly at the centre of the stage in the person and action of God. God’s characteristic way of working is in quietness and through prayer.’’ Eugene Peterson: Introduction to ‘Nahum’ in ‘The Message’, p.1684. In Nahum’s day, Assyria, with its capital Nineveh, seemed invincible. A world free from Assyrian terror was unimaginable. But Nahum was sent to announce that such a thing would come about. It did!
Prayer: Lord God, I thank you that you do have the ‘whole world’ in your hands. There isn’t a mountain or hill that you can’t move.