Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How the Tables Have Turned!

The word for today: Nahum 2 & 3

Assyria was a big deal.
At least from around the 13th century BC to 612 BC they were.
They controlled the Middle East, all the way from the Mediterranean Sea, to the Caspian Sea, to the Persian Gulf. They ruled over lands that include modern day countries of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait.
They shared many of the accomplishments (and debasements) of their Babylonian cousins to the south. They made huge advancements in astronomy, language, roads, literature, inventions, commerce, government and civilization.
They were even more well know for their military power and cruelty. These guys invented the use of large cavalry squadrons. Their weapons and armor were so efficient, they were not improved upon until the time of Napoleon. They were ruthless as well. carrying prisoners by hooks in their mouths, impaling the dead on poles, publicly torturing their foes as a warning to others.

Nineveh(the capital) was perhaps the largest city in the world in the time of Jonah. It had in the neighborhood of 120,000 people. (Remember what the Bible says: "Now Nineveh was a very important city--a visit required three days" Jonah 3:3) It was an impressive city- covering 17 acres, with 12 kilometers of walls that were 33 ft high and 50 ft thick.

The Bible records some of the accomplishments of Assyrian kings. (All of which has been verified by archaeology and history).

Tiglath-Pileser III
was the first king to attack Israel. During the reign of King Pekah, he began the assault and deportation of Galilee (2 Kings 15:29).

his son, was the ruler that ended the reign of Hoshea, King of Israel, and the whole northern kingdom. He spent three years laying siege to its capital, Samaria, and when that city fell (722 BC), he deported all the survivors to Assyria. (2 Kings 18:9-12)

his son, was King of Assyria during the reign of King Hezekiah (Judah). His army "attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them" (2 Kings 18:13)
After that, he was basically paid off by King Hezekiah and given "all the silver that was found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace." (2 Kings 18:15)
Three generations of renowned kings destroyed Israel and came one angel away from destroying Judah as well.

None of that matters now, because Assyria is doomed for destruction. My, how the tables have turned. The plunderers will be plundered. (3:2) The military ingenuity of Assyria betrays them as shields, chariots, and siege towers are used against them (2:3-5). The inflicters of so much violence and pain now become the "bloody city (3:1)." The nation that sent so many into captivity herself becomes exiled (3:10).

The Apostle Paul wrote the following worlds to his young apprentice, Timothy:
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God..." (1 Ti. 6:17)

It is so tempting to put our hope in money or our comfort or our health or our national security or dozens of other things. But we are told not to do that, not to follow the same proud path of Assyria and every empire since then. Why? Because event the most successful human endeavors and accomplishments will fall and fail us. No one at the time believe the puny words of a puny prophet from a puny nation against the reigning world power. But God and history have verified him forever.

Never overestimate the power of any Assyria you face.
Never underestimate the power of a Nahum- a single person who is obedient to God.

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