Picture credit to General Mills.
“Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace!…” Nahum 1:15
To look at a summary of the three chapters of Nahum’s prophecy is not a very bright outcome for Ninevah. It starts with God’s wrath against Ninevah, proceeds to the destruction of Ninevah, and ends with the woe of Ninevah. But at the same time, it’s a message of good news to those who will listen and be effected by that listening to choose God.
Nahum starts out by telling how You are a jealous God, and how You revenge against Your enemies. At the same time he reminds all how You are slow to anger, and great in power, and a righteous judge who can’t and won’t acquit the guilty. Who can stand before You, really? And then Nahum reminds the hearer that You are good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and You know those that trust in You. You know every one who truly trusts You in Israel, even though she be scattered or under oppression. You know any one who truly trusts You that might exist in Ninevah. You know any one who truly trusts You today.
And that takes me back to thinking about what it means for You to be a jealous God. Often, jealousy now has a bad connotation. Men twist jealousy and use it for their own desires. But You are God, and You are holy and right. And though all things are for You and according to Your desires, all Your desires are true and good and right and for our benefit because they glorify You. So what is different about Your jealousy? The Hebrew roots denote an idea of becoming deep red. But it’s more than getting that angry red face, it’s a defining character or quality of life. Love, hate, jealousy- they are all right there together. The feminine form means ardor, zeal or jealousy.
Now Proverbs 6 and 27 tell us that jealousy “enrages a man.” Let’s admit it. If someone finds someone else in bed with their spouse, there will be a whole different attitude than if the same person were stealing an apple because they were hungry. Could that be because we don’t love or hate apples, but we do love and value our spouse? In man, jealousy has to be checked. God understood that. In Mosaic law, he made checks to protect wives whose husbands were unrightly jealous. At the same time, Ecclesiastes 4:4 sees competition as a form of jealousy that motivates men to skill and labor, and in 9:6 jealousy is equated with zeal and right there with love and hate.
Phinehas was described as being jealous with the jealousy of the Lord (Numbers 25:11), when he gored Zimri and Cozbi. And the Lord blessed him. When Scripture speaks of the marriage relationship between You and mankind, it comes up in accusations of adultery. David felt it as we hear in his declaration, “Zeal for Your house has consumed me…” (Psalm 69:9) It’s that feminine form of qanna. You, Yourself Lord, confess that You are a jealous God in Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9 and more. “In Exodus 34:14 it’s even stated that the Lord’s name is Jealous God (El-kana).” (Abarim Publications)
So maybe we need to re-evaluate what jealousy is really supposed to mean. When I go to Webster’s dictionary and look at jealousy, it’s all about suspicion, and that’s just not what this Hebrew word is about at all. But if I look in Webster at the word zeal, I start to see. It’s “passionate ardor in pursuit of any thing.” Only, God, You aren’t just pursuing anything. You are pursuing Your glory which You deserve and our benefit because we were created to shine for You. So You are all about being passionate for us and our purpose.
Even Ninevah’s purpose was to shine for You. But they had chosen another path. Paul reminds us that there are vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor. And God, in His infinite patience holds up His passion and pours it all out at just the right time. Therefore, the vessels of dishonor become Your means of demonstrating the magnitude of Your passion for Your beloved. It comes out as anger for those who injur Your beloved and mercy toward Your beloved.
It’s not easy understanding this jealousy, but it’s worth taking the time to meditate on it. Like in Exodus 20:5 where You say, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Stuff like this seems really harsh. But am I really understanding it? Are You a jealous God who holds the children accountable for the sins of their parents? Is that what this really means? But maybe I have to understand paqad, visiting, also. It’s a good guess the meaning has to do with to ‘attend with care” or “take note.” There is usually a “positive action by a superior in relation to his subordinates.” It’s often the idea of “‘making a visitation’ and points to action that produces a great change in the position of a subordinate either for good or ill.” Some have looked at the Paleo-Hebrew imagery in the word. In that case, paqad could represent “the expectation of a future encounter.” What if it’s all about God visiting? What if God comes to those children just as He came to the parents and offered a relationship with Himself? What if the third and fourth generations have the hope of You manifesting Yourself to them too? What if personal involvement with You was something they could attain?
What if You are not separate from our human affairs? What if You are involved and visit us? What if You are so personally involved that You are a part of our life, but You won’t force it on us? What if You come calling to be involved in our everyday life, and we can accept that invitation or not? What if You, the Superior, comes to us, the inferior, wishing to invite us into Your good will and we can accept it or deny it? What if Your qanna, or jealousy, or zealousness is about Your expectation for us to understand this and expect us to expect You and get ready for You? And when I don’t prepare for You and I deny You, I suffer the consequences of choosing to be Your enemy instead of Your child?
The truth is that You invite every person to be passionately connected with You and intimately involved with You. We’re not mere slaves and entertainment as men were to the Greek and Egyptian gods. You are committed to us and to manifesting Yourself to us. You are personally involved. But with that commitment comes an examination and intervention. You come to do something in us that we cannot do in ourselves. You participate in our changing. You guard us from ourselves. You pay attention to us not because You need to be appeased but because You are truly Father. Your care and concern extend into the future. Your character of qanna, zeal, that right kind of jealousy, enters into Your children but only because they have allowed You to enter in. And it enters our children’s children if they let it.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus declares, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” There’s this door that God has opened to us, since the garden of Eden, and He’s called the Tree of Life. Once we could have entered it without having to deal with conviction or atonement or without any need for relief. But now, we need all three. We need redemption. God is inviting us into relationship with Him, just like He invited the Ninevites way back in the time of Jonah, and still wanted to invite them, and just like He invited Israel. But if You choose to avoid walking through the door of invitation, You reap what lies on the other side, outside of His protection. And the beauty is, to walk into God, to enter into You, is to continue into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
In the midst of whatever is going on in life, “the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble,” and You do know, intimately, those who trust in You! There is so much now to see, when we behold upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings and publishes peace! Isaiah 52 reminds us that You are here with Your people, that You reign so closely and so intimately that Your beautiful feet walk the mountains with us and bring us good news and publish Your peace and bring us happiness, and salvation. I know that this isn’t just about Nahum’s feet and missionary’s feet because You tell us, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19) The beauty is that You publish this peace in You to all people, and You invite us into it, and You invite us to publish this peace with You. But it’s an invitation none-the-less.
The truth is, those that You love, You reprove and discipline. And we have a responsibility under that reproof and discipline, to be zealous and repent. But it’s our choice how we respond. You stand there at that door and knock. We can hear Your voice and open the door, or we can hear Your voice and head to another door. But only those who hear Your voice and open Your door will benefit from a personal, intimate relationship with You. Then You will come to them, You will visit them, no matter what there parents’ choices were, and eat with them and us with You. That’s the beauty of choice and free will. I can come of my own accord and choose to visit with You. I can choose to be Yours because the fact is You’ve always chosen to be ours. Silly humans to choose anything else. “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.” But God is for us and always has been and it’s ridiculous to choose anyone or anything but Him.