I just learned that this part of Nahum’s prophecy is referred to as a “woe oracle.” As such, it has two parts, and woe oracles are directed to those doomed by God, including the judgment pronounced on foreign nations, like Nineveh. We understand the word “woe” to be the state of distress and extreme grief. The two sections of this type of oracle are (1) accusation and (2) announcement.
The “accusation” states what evil has been done. What wrongs do we see highlighted here? “Nineveh, the beautiful and faithless city, mistress of deadly charms, enticed the nations with her beauty. She taught them all her magic, enchanting people everywhere.” The results of their evil schemes are also given.
You can’t read this account and not wonder why Joab is still free to kill whoever gets in his way. You’ll recall that David replaced Joab with Amasa. What fuels Joab’s anger? Is it jealousy?
In this case, it certainly could be. Amasa had taken his place beside the king. But Amasa was his cousin! Shouldn’t Joab have showed some mercy? Amasa was even on a different mission than Joab. This isn’t the first time Joab acted with such ruthlessness that a life was lost.
If we wondered in our last reading why only one of the 70 sons of Gideon, the one born to his concubine in Shechem, was mentioned, we now know the answer. The story is shifting, and Abimelech desires to make a name for himself. He is power hungry, in addition to feeling “less” than the others because he is the son of Gideon’s concubine and not one of the wives.
We already know the Israelites are in another period where they turn away from God. Now we see what evil is up to. Abimelech is a good example of how the abuse of power can be used to take over and control a situation.
Sometimes we forget we have the Holy Spirit living inside us. It’s such a perk to being followers of Jesus. Yet, we seem to have this ego or something that wants the recognition. We want to do things our own way and receive approval. Paul would have known this better than most. For years he was a strong Jewish leader. People feared him until his life was transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Now Paul wants to make sure that we, as well as his original readers, don’t ignore the power we have at our disposal. He says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” Why would we want to smother, restrain, or suppress the power that raised Jesus from the dead? That’s a very good question we should all ask ourselves. Regularly. We have all been gifted our own way of unleashing that power. What, then, is your super power?
Jesus comes forth today not as the Lamb, as he has been portrayed up to now, but as a warrior. But not a warrior in the sense of the word as we would imagine. What images come to your mind when you think of a warrior going to battle? Jesus is not covered in armor. There are not tanks or weapons, fighter jets, or any such military might standing by. Jesus is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, with crowns adorning his head. His only “weapon” was the sword coming from his mouth.
He is clearly identified to us in terms we associate with Jesus. “Faithful and True,” the “Word of God,” “King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” We are bombarded with visions, each beginning with John’s words, “I saw.” By now, we know John isn’t describing real events or occurrences but helping us understand using symbols of real occurrences. The victory is sure, but we don’t necessarily need to be expecting a white horse and rider!