17 December 2010

Dec 17

Reference links:
Old Testament

Harris' description of the book of Nahum is short and sweet:
The prophet rejoices over Nineveh's deserved fall.
Further commentary gives a bit more detail:
Of Nahum's personal life or theological beliefs,w e know nothing except that his message was unlike that of any other known Hebrew prophet. He neither decried his people's sins nor prophesied their retribution; instead, his entire book is composed of three poems rejoicing over the ruin of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire. His gloating, unmitigated by compassion, contrasts markedly with the merciful attitude found in Jonah.
Nahum probably wrote about 612 BCE, either while the combined Medes and Babylonians were besieging Nineveh or shortly after the city's capture.  
On to the reading! The reading starts with a general overview of Nahum's version of God. Nahum's God is jealous, powerful, vengeful, and angry (although slow to anger). He is an absolutist who never lets guilt go unpunished. He is also good and a refuge to those who trust him.

After this, Nahum gets more specific and starts discussing the Assyrians. The Lord will rescue his people from their oppression (and will not punish them again apparently; that part is not so accurate a prediction). The Assyrians in Nineveh will be punished and fall; Nahum spends a fair amount of time on the details of their defeat and punishment. Those descriptions, the details of which are not particularly interesting, make up the rest of the book.

Not much to say about that one except that Nahum's version of God is not particularly attractive or worthy of worship for anything other than his shear power.
New Testament

The seventh and last seal is broken. At which point,
here was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour.
I find that precision to be rather hilarious.

After that, seven angels are given seven trumpets and another angel mixes prayers with incense to make an offering. The incense burner is then filled with fire and thrown to the earth, causing various disasters there. Whatever those mixed in prayers were about, it seems they were not prayers for peace, love, or goodwill. 

And then we get another set of actions which occur based on the a repeated action. The nesting in Revelation is like that of a Russian doll. This time the action is the blowing of the trumpets of the seven angels. 

The first angel causes hail and fire mixed with blood to fail upon the earth; this, of course, causes destruction on the earth. The second causes a mountain of fire to be thrown into the sea; this causes destruction in the sea. The third makes a star fall from the sky it made much of the earth's water bitter. The fourth causes 1/3 of each of the sun, moon, and starts to be made dark. Just in case you were thinking this whole thing might not be symbolic, several of those things would be impossible in real life; therefore, this must be symbolic (or flat out wrong).

After that, an eagle indicates that the last three trumpets will cause even worse damage.

Psalms and Proverbs

These proverbs are much less fragmented than earlier proverbs and, therefore, much more annoying to read a few verses at a time. In any case, Agur asks two favors of God: he wants to never tell a lie and he wants to be neither too rich nor too poor. If he is too rich, he may become self reliant, and if he is too poor, he may resort to crime.