Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Systematic Theology in a Raging Storm: Reflections on Nahum's Vision of God

1The oracle of Nineveh.  
The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.  
2A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; 
the Lord is avenging and wrathful.  
The Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries, 
and he reserves wrath for his enemies.  
3The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, 
and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.  
In whirlwind and storm is his way, 
and clouds are the dust beneath his feet.  
4He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; 
he dries up all the rivers.  
Bashan and Carmel wither; the blossoms of Lebanon wither.  5Mountains quake because of him 
and the hills dissolve; 
indeed the earth is upheaved by his presence, 
the world and all the inhabitants in it.  
6Who can stand before his indignation?  
Who can endure the burning of his anger?  
His wrath is poured out like fire 
and the rocks are broken up by him.  
7The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, 
and he knows those who take refuge in him. 
8But with an overflowing flood 
he will make a complete end of its site, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.  
–Nahum 1.1-8

I can make a "list of God's attributes" from Nahum 1.1-8:

* Jealous
* Avenging
* Wrath
* Slow to anger
* Great in power
* Good

Words on a page as I sit comfortably in climate-controlled office.

But place me in a  whirlwind and storm with its flashing lightning and booming thunder.  Let me behold the waters being evaporated and devastation lacing the land.  Let me feel the earth itself as mountains begin to break apart.  Now I am experiencing the majestic presence of God with all his danger and fury.  In the midst of the rattle and rumble, confusion and chaos let me find a place of refuge, a safe haven from upheaval.  Now I experience the goodness of God.  The One from Whom heaven and earth convulsively flee--this One is Himself the place of refuge, stability and safety.  In His presence I know both fear and joy--I rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2.11).  I am no longer looking at a "list of attributes;" I am worshipping!

*See the following for more on Nahum:

Nahum: The Word of God or the Imagination of Man?

Nahum: Good Theology from a Book of God's Judgment