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Nahum - The Unpopular Prophet

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Today Pastor Ed Allen finished his summer book study of Jonah and Nahum by looking at the book of Nahum.

Jonah was a bad prophet, but he's popular.  Nahum was a good prophet, but his book is probably the most unpopular of all the prophets.

He preached around 650 BC, about 100 years after Jonah.  The revival in Jonah was short-lived.

Why is Nahum so unpopular? 

Nahum is about God's wrath, and we don't like that message.  Many think his message is beneath the character of God.

What is the message of Nahum?

God had had enough of the Assyrians.  He would punish them for their history of unimaginable violence.

They practiced ethnic cleansing, conquered people, took them into slavery, and obliterated them.  They were inhumanly cruel.

Nahum was written after the northern kingdom of Israel was obliterated.  50 years later, their atrocities were still unpunished. 

What kind of God allowed Assyria to do these cruelties?  Nahum answered that.

God is concerned with justice.

There's unbridled joy at the fall of the oppressor.  You don't want God talking smack to you, as happens in Nahum 3.

Why is it important for us to hear from Nahum?

It's true.  Within 30 years, Assyria completely collapsed.

We don't appreciate God's justice because we haven't experienced injustice at that level.

We live in a place of profound comfort and safety -- that tends to dull our spiritual senses.

We must not trifle with God, but our lives are designed to do that.  Our actions do have eternal consequences.

We ended with a reminder that Jesus came.  And we need him desperately.

Jonah: What Jonah Gets Wrong

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series on Jonah and Nahum, finishing the book of Jonah by covering chapters 3 and 4, "What Jonah Gets Wrong (and it's a lot!)"

None of us gets to be the person who gets it all right.  The key to getting as much right as we can is surrender.

Jonah 3 is the good part.  Yay!  Revival!  Yay!  The Ninevites repented!  Good news!  But not to Jonah.

Here are some ways it's hard to follow Jesus:

-- It's not about me, it's about God.  (When I make it about me, I end up being miserable.)

-- My blessings are not solely for me.  (They're designed to flow through me to others.)

-- It's not about effort, it's about surrender.

-- It's not about goodness, it's about repentance.

When we follow the way of self-focus, we feel entitled to things from God.

Jonah gets mad at God and feels sorry for himself.

We tend to clean up the story of Jonah and stop with chapter 3.  We tend to clean up our own stories as well.

We talked about repentance last week.  It needs to be constant (Psalm 139:23-24).  We end up looking at others with grace when we continue to repent.

Jonah's message was almost designed to be rejected:  "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."  But the Ninevites responded very positively, and God relented.

Jonah gets so mad at God he burned with anger.

Jonah didn't believe the Assyrians deserved God's mercy.  

Jonah 4:2 -- He knew that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in unfailing love.

How did Jonah know this?  God had done that for him.

Religion wants to earn God's favor.

For Jonah, his connection to God is about himself... and his type of people.

His prayer is all about himself and "I told you so."

Jonah was full of unbridled nationalism and racism.

God had told the Israelites He'd chosen them to bless the nations; they just heard they'd been chosen.

Religion closes its ranks around itself and defends itself.

Repentance is never proud of getting it and realizes there's probably more they don't get.

Repentance never begrudges an opportunity to examine itself.

Jonah was a nationalist and a racist, and those attitudes were still prevalent in the time of Jesus toward Samaritans.

Bad theology often leads to despair and self-pity.

At Gateway, we want to be a place where all are welcome.  We need leaders who are not old white guys (said Ed, a self-described old white guy).  Leaders are servants - thank you for those who are stepping into that.

Our primary enemy in suburban America is Meism.  We make it all about ourselves.

Jonah was waiting for the city to be destroyed -- It was a long wait.  But God continued to direct the circumstances.

Bad theology leaves us feeling sorry for ourselves.  

We need to get away from TRYing to be good -- that's the source of our guilt.

 

Posted by Sondy Eklund with

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