Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Nahum 2 – Nineveh is under attack. “The enemy soldiers carry red shields and wear uniforms of red. They are preparing to attack! Their chariots flash like fire. Their horses prance” (2:3).
The attackers rush to the walls of the city and prepare their battering ram. “The gates by the river burst open; the palace is filled with terror. The queen is taken captive; her servants moan like doves and beat their breast in sorrow” (2:6-7).
“Like water from a broken dam the people rush from Nineveh” (2:8). The city’s treasure is plundered. “Hearts melt with fear; knees tremble, strength is gone; faces grow pale” (2:10).
Where are the “lions” who filled the place and “filled his den with torn flesh” (2:12). The Lord is now the city’s enemy “I will burn up your chariots. Your soldiers will be killed in war, and I will take away everything that you took from others” (2:13).
Nahum 3 – The city is doomed. “Cavalry troops charge, swords flash, spears gleam! Corpses are piled high, dead bodies without number – men stumble over them! Nineveh the whore is being punished. Attractive and full of deadly charms, she enchanted nations and enslaved them” (3:3-4).
Nineveh is reminded that cities of the powerful have been brought down before – Thebes is mentioned. “She too had a river to protect her like a wall – the Nile was her defense. She ruled Ethiopia and Egypt; there was no limit to her power; Libya was her ally. Yet the people of Thebes were carried off into exile” (3:9-10).
The same will happen to Nineveh. No one escaped the “endless cruelty” of the Assyrians in their time of power. Now all “who hear the news of your destruction clap their hands for joy” (3:19).
John 8:31-59 - While many are confused by Jesus, “many” also believe in him. He tells these believers, “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free” (8:31-32). But some hear him only superficially; they say they have never been slaves because they are sons of Abraham. But he tells them “everyone who commits sin is a slave” (8:34). Jesus is not talking about “earthly” realities here, and many don’t really “get it”.
He says, “If you were Abraham’s children you would do what Abraham did . . .If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me” (8:42). They do not understand him because they cannot hear him; they cannot understand his language. It is the language of the spirit, not the world.
He tells them “your father is the devil” (8:44). And they think he is a Samaritan and possessed by a demon (8:48). It’s interesting, and I don’t really mean to put Jesus on the same level as those who are after him, but they are both talking past each other. Both the “Jews” and Jesus think the “other” is possessed by a devil that keeps their words from being understood.
He goes on: “I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death” (8:51). They are sure he is possessed now. Everyone dies. Abraham died; the prophets died. “Who do you claim to be?” (8:53) they ask.
“I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham was, I Am” (8:58). That does it. They pick up stones and get ready to throw them. Jesus hides himself and slips out of the temple.