by Rev. Ian Arnold
We can never really satisfactorily find our way into a book of the Bible, especially a Book of the Old Testament, unless we take on board that it is mirror to us of what challenges and experiences we face within. Its message, for us, is not about the world outside of us, but about the world inside of us. It’s this inner world, of thoughts and feelings, burdens and challenges, successes and failures, achievements and disappointments, as we make our journey towards being a more spiritual person, that beneath the surface these books are focussed on.
Most people readily accept this when it comes to the story of Moses leading the ancient people of Israel out from slavery in Egypt to, eventually, the Promised Land. Movement forward and movement backward, longing for what we dream was the past, and all that sort of thing. It speaks to us all.
All of ancient Israel’s enemies symbolize things that attack, plunder, weaken, marginalise and imprison what is of the Lord in our lives. We try to stand up for what is right and decent in a given situation and in no time a voice is whispering to us ‘Why bother?’ ‘Who cares?’
Some of those enemies of ancient Israel were fearsome, like the Assyrians and the Babylonians. They were ruthless, stand over, ‘merchants’. They were rich, powerful and had massive armies.
So think for a moment: what might be amongst the most intimidating ‘enemies’ of our spiritual well-being? What are those things likely to do the most damage?
Babylon has long been recognized as a symbol of power and self-aggrandizement. But what about the Assyrians?
The Assyrians were menacing the ancient Israelites for more than a century, first sweeping away the ‘northern’ kingdom of Israel in 721 BC and then hanging around in the area for decades afterwards, a considerable threat to the remaining, southern, kingdom of Judea. And how feared and despised they were is just so evident in this prophecy of Nahum.
So, in us, what might they symbolize? Outside the fortified and walled city of Jerusalem and on one famous occasion they showed themselves to be adept talkers and persuaders. (See the story, 2 Kings Chapter 18).
Hold to this for a moment – “talkers and persuaders”. The thing is that there are those forces and influences that become active within us trying to talk and persuade us that, for example, sin is fine if it remains undiscovered or that the Ten commandments don’t have a place in this day and age or that my lapses are nothing by comparison with what goes on in the world generally.
If we can see this for what it is it is pretty fearsome stuff, capable of inflicting great damage of us, spiritually.
So, read this little, 3 Chapter paragraph, prophecy with this in mind. It is not people, or peoples, the Lord pits Himself against but those very things which hold the potential to devastate us spiritually.