The Tale of Two Cities

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 1

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Josiah inherited a kingdom of idolatry. While cleansing the land of its comprehensive idolatry, however, the Book of the Law was discovered in the Temple (hidden in the place where it should have been taught) and read before all the people. Josiah and the great city of Jerusalem (where God had placed His Name) returned to God and experienced great revival.

Nineveh, located in Assyria, was built by Nimrod after the flood and had a rich and enduring history of idolatry (Gen. 10:11-12). Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah around 752-754 BC. The revival following Jonah’s preaching, however, was short-lived—an aberration. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, one of the cruelest, vilest, most powerful, and most idolatrous empires of the world. The Assyrians defeated Northern Israel in 722 BC and carried them into captivity. Nahum prophesied against Nineveh somewhere between 663-654. Approximately 50 years later, Nineveh fell to the Babylonians, as he had predicted.

Nahum begins his message by declaring, “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges . . . . The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies” (Nahum 1:2). The world wants a God who treats everyone the same. God does not. Nahum declares that “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble” (1:7), and that “He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end” of Nineveh (1:7-8). God’s covenant with Israel obligates Him to fulfill His promises in spite of His people’s idolatrous ways.

The difference between Nineveh and Jerusalem is the covenant. God has placed His Name in Jerusalem. He has made no such investment in Nineveh. Covenant means that God has sworn by Himself to be the defender for His people; whatever Ninevites “conspire against the LORD . . . He will make an utter end of it” (1:9). He “will break off his yoke from you, and burst your bonds apart” (1:13), He promises to “restore the excellence of Jacob” (2:2), but to Nineveh He declares, “I am against you” (2:13).

When God cuts a covenant with His people, He stands behind that covenant, though years pass and circumstances change. He is a Friend to their friends and an Enemy to their enemies. He keeps His word; no wonder that Nineveh now is a place of ruins, while His people live on. He is a stronghold in the day of trouble.

This is the basis of true faith in Christ; we enter into covenant with Holy God through the work of Christ on the cross and in His resurrection. He becomes our stronghold, our Defender in time of trouble. Our covenantal relationship with Christ means that the living God is our Friend–a friend to our friends and an Enemy to our enemies. He is truly “good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He cares for those who trust in Him” (1:7).

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (2 Kings 23; 2 Chron. 34:29-33; 35:1-19; Nahum):
How does Judah respond to the public reading of God’s Word? What does this reveal about God’s Word?
Review Deut. 31:9-13. How had disobedience to this instruction negatively impacted both Israel and Judah?
Review Ex. 12:14-20. Why were the children of Israel to celebrate the Passover annually? Who was the last leader in Israel to celebrate such a Passover? What does this reveal about the commands that God gives? About the correlation between Bible literacy, the Passover celebration, and the spiritual welfare of God’s people?