Sorry for the late post this morning. We had a snow day and spent the morning out playing in it. First things first.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him. But he will completely destroy Nineveh with an overwhelming flood, and he will chase his enemies into darkness.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
As I drive around town, on occasion I’ll see a sticker on the back window of the car in front of me. One sticker in particular (which is, incidentally, most often found on big SUV’s) reads “Mama Bear.” The woman driving that vehicle is claiming two things about herself. Number one: She loves her kids fiercely. She is absolutely committed to them. Number two: If you try and get in between her and her kids, she’s going to rip you to pieces. If God drove around a big SUV, He’d have a Mama Bear sticker on His back window too.
The whole idea for the Mama Bear sticker comes straight out of nature. Although some animals have babies and leave them to their own devices from day one (turtles, for instance), many stay with their young ones for a time. Bears do that longer than most species. A mother bear cares for her cubs for the first two years of their lives. During that time, she is very protective of them.
If you encounter a bear out in the wild generally, there’s a good chance that it doesn’t want anything to do with you. It will actively look to leave you alone and stay away from you. If you encounter a mother bear with her cubs and make her feel the least bit threatened, the greater likelihood is that she is going to tear you limb from limb.
This is in some ways a picture of every good parent. Whether father or mother, every good parent is for his or her kids more so than anyone else in the world. When they are in distress, we want for them to feel absolutely safe and confident to come to us before they turn anywhere else. If they have troubles and need a place to rest and recover from their wounds, to us is where we want them to turn first (after Jesus, of course). And if something poses a threat to them, we want to be their warriors, their champions. We want to destroy whoever or whatever has threatened them harm.
Nahum was getting ready to predict the total downfall of Nineveh. Through him, God announced judgment over the Assyrian Empire. Before getting to that, though, the prophet started by giving the people of Israel a picture of the God who was going to be doing the judging.
The judgment of the Lord is a fearsome thing, but the God doing the judging is good. His judgment does not come from anything evil in Him—there is indeed no evil in Him at all—but from the overflow of His holiness and goodness. Because He is so fundamentally good, He cannot have evil in His presence. Because His goodness is so fiercely directed at His people, He is utterly opposed to any evil directed at them. He will eliminate it entirely.
This whole description was intended to be a point of encouragement for the people. Their God is for them like a Mama Bear is for her cubs. He was a safe place for them from the troubles of the world, from the threats of every enemy. Even a nation as big and terrifying as Assyria posed no threat to their God. He would destroy them completely. He would chase them into oblivion.
In fact, this wasn’t just something to be directed at Nineveh alone. The original Hebrew here doesn’t mention them by name. Translators fill that in for the sake of clarity. This is a much more general statement of God’s care and protection for His people than it looks at first glance in English translations.
For us, this is a glorious picture of the fierceness of the love our God has for us. He is a safe place for all those who call on Him. In Christ we have an advocate who is irrevocably for us. We can go to Him with and in everything and find comfort and safety. He will shield us by His love, not necessarily from every pain, but from being blown away by it.
And when there are forces arrayed against us, He will destroy them. I don’t mean people in saying that. I mean systems. Sinful systems and their outworkings He will eliminate. Not on our timetable, but when the time is right. Every foe will be vanquished. Every threat neutralized. He will return in power one day to make everything right.
Let us delight in this great truth…and make sure we’re on His side. Let us be sure He is our Mama Bear and not the one who will be working against us. Let us give Him our allegiance and lives. He is the kind of God who alone is worthy of that.