Day 200: Egypt, Assyria, and Israel
Isaiah 18:1-7 The Ethiopians (Kushites) came to Judah seeking an alliance and bearing gifts, which seem to have been their generous custom. The final verse of this prophecy suggests that the Ethiopians would one day become part of the people of God.
Ch 19:1-25 Egypt was an advanced and accomplished kingdom that was disintegrating. The prophecy depicts the Egyptian royalty and sorcerers as fools and predicts that Judah would become greater than Egypt. The author states that both Egypt and Assyria, like Ethiopia, would eventually come to acknowledge the one true God.
Ch 20:1-6 The Image of Isaiah walking naked symbolizes what might happen to the people of Judah if they put their faith in Ethiopia and Egypt in their battle against Assyria. They would be stripped of their possessions and homeland and become displaced as refugees of war. The teaching here is that God’s power wins battles rather than military strength and numbers.
The Book of Nahum
Author and Date:
Nahum, known only from this book, was a prophet from the Judean town of Elkosh, a location historians have not identified with certainty.
Some scholars suggest that Nahum may have been a prophet of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Although the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus dated Nahum from the eighth century BC, scholars today believed the poem-oracles about Nineveh would have been issued somewhere between the destruction of Thebes (“No-amon”) in Egypt (663 BC) and the fall of Nineveh to the Babylonians (612 BC).
The opening hymn (cf. 1:2-8), an alphabetic psalm that serves as an introduction, was almost certainly a later addition by an editor in the Deuteronomic tradition.
Although the poem of the book is specifically a prophecy of the fall of Nineveh, the added introduction applies its message more broadly as a warning that all oppressors of the People of God will face divine judgment.
Nahum thus serves as encouragement and to the people of Judah under foreign rule.
Unlike most prophetic books, no mention is made of the sins of Israel or Judah or the punishments that could come their way as a result.
The entire poem-oracle is against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, which had conquered Samaria in 722 BC and was itself later vanquished by the Babylonians in the late seventh century BC.
The key themes of Nahum are the power and Providence of God.
Assyria was steeped in idolatry and corruption, so Nineveh would pay the price in the form of destruction, a punishment that came by the hand of God as he exacted his judgment.
The retribution against Assyria is contrasted with the special favor that God bestowed upon the Chosen People; they had suffered greatly under their pagan oppressors, but God promised Judah that their suffering would come to an end ant that they would someday enjoy a lasting peace (cf. 1:15; Is 52:1-7)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Nahum 1-3 Nahum used a form of legal rhetoric and irony to counter doubts about God’s sovereignty and justice. His primary theme was the prophet of the fall of Nineveh, which he described in some detail. He also had a message for Babylon and any foreign power that oppressed the Jews.
Ch 1:1-8 The first half of this chapter recalls the theophanies (“theophanies” means the physical manifestation of God to humankind) and powerful acts of God on behalf of his people and shows that his anger was part of his goodness. (CCC 697, 707)
Ch 1:9-15 This sharp prophecy answered those who ridiculed the Jewish people on account of their longstanding oppression. They considered the plight of the Jews as a sign of God’s absence or weakness. The historical context of that time and a later reference to the Assyrians made it clear that the city to be destroyed was Nineveh.
Ch 2:1-13 The fall of Nineveh was a step along the path of the restoration of Israel since its enemies had to be vanquished first. Nineveh’s destruction-ironically at the hands of Babylon, another enemy of Israel-was as terrifying as it was thorough.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Today is Day 200!
You know what that means?
There are 165 more days to go
We are on the DOWNWARD SLOPE in a massive way!!
There should be a CELEBRATION!! (Cue Kool and the Gang’s CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON!!! 😁)
You should get an award, some sort of certificate for your accomplishment in being FAITHFUL TO THE LORD WHO IS SO FAITHFUL TO YOU
Probably these first 200 days HAVE NOT BEEN PERFECT
That is AWESOME and that is GOOD
That’s how it’s supposed to be, right?
We are NOT perfect people
We just are called to be FAITHFUL TO THE LORD
When we FALL DOWN, we ask God to PICK US BACK UP
When we STOP, we ask God to help us START UP AGAIN
AND HERE WE ARE!!
200 TIMES, you have pressed PLAY and have LET THE LORD SPEAK TO YOU
TODAY IS NO DIFFERENT!
So in Isaiah Chs 18-20 an important thing to highlight is going to be incredibly important
Isaiah Ch 18 is the most vague and obscure of all of the chapters (Fr. Mike has an interesting way of pronouncing “VAGUE”...must be the Minnesota accent 🤔)
Isaiah has 66 chapters and Ch 18 we don’t really know what’s going on but we do know that it is about the nation of ETHIOPIA (Mmmmmm Ethiopian food is so good 😋😋😋)
At one point in Isaiah Chs 19 and 20 Israel is going to enter into some sort of alliance with ETHIOPIA and EGYPT against Assyria
This is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT
It highlights yes, here is the Oracle Concerning Ethiopia in Isaiah 18
And there is an Oracle Concerning Egypt in Isaiah 19
Once again there is always this call, “GET RID OF YOUR IDOLS!”
Because what’s going to happen is the Lord says in Isaiah 19:2, “And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, every man against his brother...city against city, kingdom against kingdom…”
And the people need to get rid of all of these idols
Those FALSE “gods” of the Egyptians HAVE TO BE DEFEATED
So once again we have God’s call back to HIMSELF
There is this INCREDIBLE WORD OF REDEMPTION at the end of Isaiah Ch 19
It’s so POWERFUL that is is CONFUSING
Isaiah 19:24, “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed…”
This alliance between Egypt, Israel and Assyria is something God says, “I’m going to do something good with it…”
In Isaiah 19:25 God says, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.”
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
WHENEVER would the Lord God say, “Blessed be Egypt my people”??
Egypt ENSLAVED God’s People!!!
WHENEVER would the Lord God say, “Assyria the work of my hands”??
Assyria were the WORST...MAN OH MAN!!
THEY WERE AWFUL!!
The stories about what the Assyrians would do to their enemies were just OVERWHELMING
Here is God saying, “Yes, Assyria the work of my hands and Israel my heritage”
This is a joke right?
This is VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE that this could ever happen
What do we have in the New Covenant?
We have God who RESTORES US
St. Paul in Romans 5:7-8, “...Maybe for a good person one might find the courage to die. But God proves his love for us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
How much more, then, that we have been reconciled TO HIM?
Here is God who DIED FOR HIS ENEMIES TO MAKE THEM HIS FRIENDS
GOD DIED FOR HIS ENEMIES TO MAKE THEM HIS SONS AND HIS DAUGHTERS
Here is the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Egypt and Assyria
“Blessed be Egypt, my people and Assyria the work of my hands and Israel my heritage.”
Isaiah Ch 20 is more of a NARRATIVE chapter as opposed to the others which are PROPHETIC chapters
This is where Isaiah lives out his PROPHETIC WORD in his VERY BODY
Isaiah 20:2, “...’Go, and loose the sackcloth from your loins and take off your shoes from your feet’…”
God is telling him to go naked and barefoot
Isaiah did this for THREE YEARS, walking naked and barefoot
God says in Isaiah 20:3, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Ethiopia, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians captives and the Ethiopians exiles…”
ALL OF THEM
The King of Assyria is going to DOMINATE and DESTROY Ethiopia and Egypt
He won’t wipe them off the face of the earth, obviously, because these countries still exist today
He is going to defeat them MASSIVELY
It’s one of those times that Isaiah, like we will read in Jeremiah and Ezekiel and like we saw in Hosea, they LIVE OUT THE WORDS OF PROPHECY
We also see how HORRIBLE and VIOLENT Assyria is
Yesterday we talked about the Prophet Joel and how spears were made from pruning hooks and plowshares were made into swords
In this broken world, there is this REALITY that people experience violence CONSTANTLY
It is not a NEED for war
But it is the REALITY of war
The Book of the Prophet Nahum is about the OVERTHROW OF NINEVEH
It’s only three chapters long
God is prophesying what is going to happen
God is prophesying that at some point Assyria is going to be DESTROYED
What’s going to happen is Babylon is going to come in
As BAD as Assyria has been, there is a BIGGER BAD and that is Babylon
This is the CYCLE OF VIOLENCE that Nahum is prophesying ABOUT and even AGAINST
Assyria is followed by Babylon which is followed by Persia which is followed by Greece which is followed by Rome
This perpetuation of DOMINANCE
This perpetuation of VIOLENCE
This perpetuation of one kingdom beats another kingdom beats another kingdom
This perpetuation of one person beats another person etc.
Nahum is describing that ultimately what is going to happen is, if we keep on in this progression of violence, not only is that a ROAD TO DESTRUCTION
Nahum says that GOD IS GRIEVED IN THIS
The Lord Himself CARES about the death of the innocent
The Lord Himself DOES NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN
This cycle of violence is AWFUL
GOD HATES IT
AND…(THIS IS REMARKABLE!!)
THERE WILL BE GOD’S JUDGMENT ON THOSE WHO USE VIOLENCE TO DOMINATE
If there is ANY message of the Book of the Prophet of Nahum, it is that there is a CYCLE OF VIOLENCE in this world and there is this CYCLE OF WANTING TO DOMINATE AND HARM THE INNOCENT
GOD CARES ABOUT THE INNOCENT
GOD CARES ABOUT THE LIVES AND THE SUFFERINGS AND THE DEATHS OF THE INNOCENT
God will bring about His JUDGMENT ON THOSE WHO USE VIOLENCE TO DOMINATE
God is going to RESTORE this and we will hear this tomorrow in Nahum Ch 3
God is going to declare what He ALWAYS DECLARES
GOD’S JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS ORIENTED TOWARDS JUSTICE
That’s what we are praying for
WE PRAY FOR JUSTICE
IN OUR LIVES
IN OUR HEARTS
IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE
AS WELL AS IN OUR WORLD
Isaiah Chs 18-20
Nahum Chs 1-2
ON DAY 200
THIS IS PHENOMENAL!!
WHAT A GIFT TO BE ABLE TO WALK WITH YOU ALL!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory always. Every single day, Lord, we get to once again lift up your name. We get to declare your mighty deeds. We get to declare what you have done for us. So Lord, let this be a day like all those other days where we get to declare your works and praise you and praise your name. Let’s speak of your name to those around us and speak of your name to those who know you and those who do not yet know you. Because you are a God of redemption. You are a God of mercy. You are a God who can enter into this broken world and you can bring healing. Lord God, we ask that you please bring us healing. Bring our hearts healing this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”