The LORD’s Anger Against Nineveh (Nahum 1)

Scripture Text:

Nahum 1

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Welcome to the book of Nahum!

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was assassinated by two of his sons in 681 B. C. Another son (Esarhaddon) followed him to the throne. In 669 B. C. Esarhaddon is succeeded by Ashurbanipal, who takes the Assyrian army deep into Palestine and Egypt in 663 B. C. Assyria destroys the Egyptian city of Thebes during this time.
In terms of the Biblical timeline, Isaiah was put to death before King Manasseh’s captivity (and later spiritual reforms). It was during the spiritual renewal under Manasseh that Nahum’s prophecies against Judah’s archenemy (Nineveh) and predicts her fall.
Hearing Jonah 125 years earlier, the Ninevites had repented and God had spared their city. By Nahum’s time, Nineveh had returned to her evil ways.

Each of the three chapters in Nahum is a complete unit in itself. Chapter 1 is in the form of an acrostic poem in which Nahum declares the judgment that is to come.

1. If your patience were likened to a keg of dynamite, would have a:
  • short fuse?
  • long fuse?
  • no fuse?
  • no powder?
  • no keg?

2. What pet peeve gives you a “pain in the neck”? Why is this a particular irritation to you?

3. If, during this past week, your feet were dragging or you had a bounce in your step, what do you think was the reason?

4. What do we learn about the attributes and actions of the Lord in verses 2 – 8? What characteristic of God demonstrated here surprises you? Why?

5. What has Nineveh done to kindle the Lord’s wrath (verse 2; see also Jonah 1:2)? What images are used to depict Nineveh’s end?

6. Do you think verse 7 is part of Nahum’s vision or his own personal opinion? Why?

7. What words of comfort are meant only for Judah? What good news are they to take to the mountains and proclaim? Why are they now free to attend to their festivals and vows?

8. What is the point of contrasting the futures of Nineveh and Judah? Why is God treating the two nations so differently?

9. Does the fierce anger of God shock or distress you? In your opinion could God’s anger be best likened to . . .

  • a keg of dynamite?
  • Mount Saint Helen’s volcano?
  • Old Faithful geyser?

10. How do you reconcile God’s wrath with God’s love? Is one primary and the other secondary? Are they flip sides of the same coin? Or is their no way to bring consistency out of these two natures of God?

11. Which of the Lord’s attributes and actions have you experienced in your life recently? If you could change one thing about God’s nature, what would it be? Why that one?

12. Who in your church displays a particular facet of God’s character highlighted by Nahum? Which facet does he or she bring to mind?

13. In what ways do you feel like Judah in your relationship with the Lord? In what ways like Nineveh?

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Judgment and Hope (Isaiah 66)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 66

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1. What is one of the most beautiful churches or cathedrals you have ever seen? What emotions did it evoke as you walked in? As you joined in the worship service?

2. Before the exile, the temple of Jerusalem was viewed as the proof of God’s dwelling in the midst of Israel. The returning exiles were anxious to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Hence, what is the significance of verses 1 and 2 as God’s final word to the people? What would they mean to you as you signed on to work in the temple reconstruction program?

3. Verses 3 – 6 indicate that the exiles looked forward to being able to resume offering the sacrifices commanded under the Mosaic law. Why would God choose to disavow their cherished temple practices at this time? How does this relate to the warnings given much earlier (see Isaiah 1:10 -17)? What does Isaiah warn them again at this point?

4. The image of a mother is used here (verses 7 – 13) to describe the new Jerusalem and the Lord given birth and nursing their respective children. This contrasts with an earlier picture of Zion as barren (chapter 54:1) and with our usual view of God as Father. Who are these sons and daughters? Are they the same ones as in Isaiah 49:18 – 22? Or as in Isaiah 60:4, 5? Why do you think so?

5. What does the image of God as mother convey about the renewed relationship God will establish with these people (in Question #4)?

6. Verses 14 – 18 and 24 focus on God’s judgment. To whom is this directed (verses 17, 18, 24)? What is God’s purpose in ending this book with this final warning?

7. Throughout Isaiah, God’s ultimate concern has been for all nations. How does that come to its final expression in verses 19 – 22? Looking at a map, in what directions will God’s representatives be sent? (Note: Tubal was an area near the Black Sea.) Why? How is this prophecy to be fulfilled (see Ezra 6:8, 9; Matthew 24:30; 28:18 – 20; Acts 1:8; Revelation 21)?

8. In your background, what religious traditions do you especially value: Communion? Certain holidays? Certain mode of baptism? Saying the creeds? Special type of building? The Scriptures? Other? How important are these things to you now?

9. How would you feel if you were suddenly forced (or asked by God) to stop practicing these traditions? How would you feel if, like the sons and daughters in this chapter, you were once again free to do so?

10. When have you found yourself focusing on the forms of worship and missing the reality of what it’s all about? What is worship all about (verses 2 – 5)?

11. What might help public worship become more in line with the ideal? How does your private worship compare to the ideal? What have you found helpful in cultivating a spirit of worship?

12. Although normally God is pictured as a father, Isaiah has used feminine images to describe God (see also chapter 42:14; chapter 49:15). What does the picture of God as mother tell you about the type of relationship God desires to have with you? What shades of meaning does it represent to you that seeing God as a father does not? In what way do you need to be drawn close and comforted by God as your mother now?

13. What types of people do you find it hard to reach out to or care about? Why? What does the final vision (of the glory of God being declared among the nations) say to you about the loving purposes of God for those hard-to-love people? How might you reflect that love for them this week at home? In your work place? In your church? In your community? What hope is held out that such efforts are blessed?

Additional Note:

We have reached the end of our study of the book of Isaiah!

Each section (or the book as a whole) is a powerful message. Isaiah outlasted four kings, but he finally offended one beyond repair. King Manasseh (notorious for practicing infant sacrifice) found Isaiah’s words too much to bear. Tradition records that he had the prophet killed by fastening him between two planks of wood and sawing his body in half.

 

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New Heavens and a New Earth (Isaiah 65:17 – 25)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 65:17 – 25

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1. Who is the oldest person you have ever known? What insight into life did you pick up from him or her?

2. As a child, how did you picture what heaven must be like?

3. What emotion will typify the relationship of the restored people to God? Of God to them? What accounts for this new state of affairs?

4. What will life be like when the exiles are freed? What is the reality that lies behind each figure of speech?

5. What promises, echoed elsewhere in Isaiah, are summed up in this section (see Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:6 – 9; Isaiah 14:1; Isaiah 30:19; Isaiah 32:18)?

6. HOw does the account of the creation and fall figure as background to this passage? What do we learn here about God’s purposes and plans?

7. How does this new creation come into being for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)? What will be the impact of this truth on our lifestyle (see 2 Peter 3:11 – 13)? What does this vision ultimately mean to us (see Revelation 21:1 – 5)?

8. Which of these New Testament applications of this heavenly vision especially strikes you now? Why?

9. Try to picture your life without any of the causes or results of grief, sin and pain. What would that free you to do? How might this vision of what God will bring about affect the way you deal with the struggles you face now?

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