What did Jesus mean when he said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)? On Sunday, we considered that question from the book of Nahum.
The connection between Matthew and Nahum is found in the fact that Nahum presents the sword of the Lord in all of its flame and fury, while Jesus comes to first extinguish the Lord’s wrath in his own flesh. Then, after his resurrection, he now has all authority to carve out a new community and one day bring judgment on all flesh.
All of these features are considered in this week’s sermon. You can listen to this sermon online. Discussion questions are below, as well as additional resources.
9 What do you plot against the Lord? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time. 10 For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried. 11 From you came one who plotted evil against the Lord, a worthless counselor.
The Lord’s Verdict
12 Thus says the Lord, “Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. 13 And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds apart.” 14 The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated; from the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the metal image. I will make your grave, for you are vile.” 15 Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! Keep your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows, for never again shall the worthless pass through you; he is utterly cut off. 1 The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength.
The Lord’s Limited Vengeance
2 For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches. 3 The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. The chariots come with flashing metal on the day he musters them; the cypress spears are brandished. 4 The chariots race madly through the streets; they rush to and fro through the squares; they gleam like torches; they dart like lightning. 5 He remembers his officers; they stumble as they go, they hasten to the wall; the siege tower is set up. 6 The river gates are opened; the palace melts away; 7 its mistress is stripped; she is carried off, her slave girls lamenting, moaning like doves and beating their breasts. 8 Nineveh is like a pool whose waters run away. “Halt! Halt!” they cry, but none turns back. 9 Plunder the silver, plunder the gold! There is no end of the treasure or of the wealth of all precious things. 10 Desolate! Desolation and ruin! Hearts melt and knees tremble; anguish is in all loins; all faces grow pale!
The Lord’s Lion Song
11 Where is the lions’ den, the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion and lioness went, where his cubs were, with none to disturb? 12 The lion tore enough for his cubs and strangled prey for his lionesses; he filled his caves with prey and his dens with torn flesh. 13 Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions. I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.
- Read Matthew 10:34–39. Have you ever given thought to what Jesus meant here? Does this mean Jesus does not bring peace? How does asking good questions help us learn more about God?
- What do we learn about God in Nahum 1:9–2:13? What is the overall message of these verses?
- What do we learn about sin in these verses? How does God oppose the proud and give grace to the humble?
- Where are the “rays of hope” in these verses? See 1:7; 1:15; 2:2 especially.
- What do people usually think of when they say “God is good.” What does Nahum mean about God’s goodness (see 1:7–11)?
- What is the good news proclaimed in 1:15? Do you think of justice/judgment when you talk about the gospel / share the gospel? Why or why not? Why is judgment a necessary part of the good news?
- How would God bring restoration to Jerusalem (2:2)? Hint: Think about how each book after Nahum completes the story of God’s redemption in Judah/
- What do you learn about God in Nahum 2:11–13? Compare Psalm 2:3; Proverbs 1:26; Proverbs 31:25; Matthew 11:25–27.
- How does knowing God laughs over the pride of evil affect you? How does it give you encouragement, confidence, hope? Does it humble you? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What do we learn about Jesus and his sword by reading Matthew 10 with Nahum 1–2? How does knowing Jesus has a sword encourage fear? Or faith?
- What else did you learn or see in Nahum? What do you struggle to understand or apply?
- Reading the Minor Prophets Together: Ten Observations from Paul House’s ‘The Unity of the Twelve’
- Reading the Bible Better: Finding Unity in the Book of the Twelve
- Where Grace and Justice Meet: A Canonical Reading of Exodus 34:6–7
- The Good News of God’s Vengeance: Nahum’s History and Literary StyleJustice, Mercy, and Wisdom: How the Cross Reveals and ‘Reconciles’ the Attributes of God
For Bible students and teachers, these four resources would help your study of the Minor Prophets.
- The Faith of Israel by William Dumbrell
- The Christ of the Prophets by O. Palmer Robertson
- The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr and Gary E. Yates
- The Unity of the Twelve by Paul House
Soli Doe Gloria, ds