The destruction of the lions’ den of Assyria (Nah 2:11-2:13)

“What became

Of the lions’ den?

What became

Of the cave

Of the young lions?

There the lion goes.

There his cubs were,

With none to disturb them.

The lion has torn enough

For his whelps.

He strangled prey

For his lionesses.

He has filled his caves

With prey.

He has filled his dens

With torn flesh.

‘See!

I am against you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will burn

Your chariots

In smoke.

The sword shall devour

Your young lions.

I will cut off

Your prey

From the earth.

The voice

Of your messengers

Shall be heard no more.’”

Assyria was considered a lion or a destroyer.  Nahum wanted to know what had happened to this proud lion’s den or his cave.  There his young cubs would be undisturbed.  He had gathered enough prey for these lionesses, as well as their cubs.  This lion of Assyria had filled his caves and dens with torn flesh.  All this would be gone.  Yahweh has issued an oracle against Assyria.  Yahweh would burn their chariots as they would go up in smoke.  Their young lions would die by the sword.  They would lose all their prey.  The voice of their messengers would not be heard anymore.  The end of Nineveh and Assyria was near.

Punishment for idolatry (Hos 13:2-13:3)

“Now they keep on sinning.

They make a cast image

For themselves.

They make idols

Of silver,

According to their understanding.

All of them are

The work of artisans.

‘Sacrifice to these!’

They say.

People are kissing calves!

Therefore,

They shall be

Like the morning mist,

Like the dew

That goes early away,

Like the chaff

That swirls

From the threshing floor,

Like smoke

From a window.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, had this main complaint against the northern Israelites that they kept on adoring these idol Baal images. They kept on sinning. They made their own silver idols. They made their own images without any understanding, clearly the work of artisans. When they were finished, they wanted the people to sacrifice to these idols. They wanted people to kiss these idol calves. Yahweh was going to punish them. They were going to become like the morning mist that disappears during the day. They were going to be like chaff that blows in the wind from the threshing floor. They were going to be like smoke from a window. They would disappear before their very own eyes.

Praise for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan 3:27-3:28)

“The satraps,

The prefects,

The governors,

The king’s counselors,

Gathered together.

They saw

That the fire

Had not had any power

Over the bodies

Of these men.

The hair

Of their heads

Was not singed.

Their tunics were

Not harmed.

Not even the smell of fire

Came from them.

King Nebuchadnezzar said.

‘Blessed be the God

Of Shadrach,

Of Meshach,

Of Abednego,

Who has sent

His angel!

He has delivered

His servants,

Who trusted in him.

They disobeyed

The king’s command.

They yielded up

Their bodies

Rather than serve,

Rather than worship,

Any god

Except their own God.’”

All the important people of the Babylonian kingdom were gathered together, including the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors. They all marveled that the 3 men had survived the fire unscathed. Their hair was not even singed and their clothes were not harmed. They did not even smell like smoke from the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar then praised them and their God. He blessed God, just as they had done in the fiery furnace. The king noted that an angel of God had saved the 3 of them. They had trusted in their God by disobeying the king’s command. Then they suffering the consequences. They gave up their bodies, rather than serve and worship another god. They were truly blessed by their God.

The strange creatures in the foreign temples (Bar 6:20-6:23)

“The idols are just

Like a beam

In the temple.

It is said

That their hearts

Are eaten away,

When crawling creatures

From the earth

Devour them,

Along with their robes.

They do not notice

When their faces

Have been blackened

By the smoke

Of the temple.

Bats,

Swallows,

Birds,

As well as cats

Alight on their bodies

As well as their heads.

From this

You will know

That they are not gods.

So do not fear them!”

This author elaborates about the conditions that idols have in the foreign temples. They are just like wooden beams in the temple. Their hearts are being eaten away by crawling creatures that devour them along with their precious robes. These false idols do not even notice when their faces become blackened by the smoke in the temple. There are all kinds of creatures all over them. Bats, cats, swallows, and other birds have landed on their heads and bodies. Thus they should know that these are not really gods. Thus, there is nothing to fear from them.

False worship (Isa 65:3-65:5)

“A people provoke me

To my face continually.

They sacrifice in gardens.

They offer incense on bricks.

They sit inside tombs.

They spend the night in secret places.

They eat swine’s flesh.

They have broth of abominable things

In their vessels.

They say.

‘Keep to yourself.

Do not come near me.

I am too holy for you.’

These are a smoke

In my nostrils.

They are a fire

That burns all the day.”

These Israelites were practicing false worship right in front of Yahweh, instead of the true Yahweh worship. They were sacrificing in the gardens in some sort of a nature cult. They burned incense on bricks that was both a pagan and Israelite practice. Sitting inside tombs was an attempt to consult with the dead. If they spent the night in a secret place they were trying to conjure up a vision. Obviously eating pork was forbidden to the Israelites. Others drank some kind of terrible abominable broth. Some even wanted to keep Yahweh away because they were already part of some unknown rite or cult that made them holy. They were like smoke in Yahweh’s nose. They were like a continually burning fire. They really bothered Yahweh with their false worship practices.

Yahweh will judge the world (Isa 51:4-51:6)

“Listen to me!

My people!

Give heed to me!

My nation!

A teaching will go out from me!

My justice will be for a light to the people.

I will bring near my deliverance swiftly.

My salvation has gone out.

My arms will rule the people.

The coastlands wait for me.

They hope for my arm.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens!

Look at the earth beneath!

The heavens will vanish

Like smoke!

The earth will wear out

Like a garment!

Those who live on it

Will die like gnats!

But my salvation will be forever!

My deliverance will never be ended!”

Once again, Second Isaiah wanted the people to listen to Yahweh and his teaching. Yahweh wanted to bring justice and light to the world and its people. He would bring salvation and deliverance swiftly. Once again, the coastlands of the Mediterranean Sea were mentioned explicitly as waiting for Yahweh. He told them to look at heaven and earth. Heaven would vanish like smoke, while the earth would wear out. The people on earth would die like gnats. However, the eternal salvation and deliverance of Yahweh would be forever without end.

The anger of Yahweh (Isa 30:27-30:28)

“See!

The name of Yahweh

Comes from far away.

It burns with his anger,

In thick rising smoke.

His lips are

Full of indignation.

His tongue is

Like a devouring fire.

His breath is

Like an overflowing stream

That reaches up to the neck.

He sifts the nations

With the sieve of destruction.

He places on the jaws of the people

A bridle that leads them astray.”

Is this an allusion to the Assyrians as they attack Jerusalem? The name of Yahweh comes from a distance. Could this be an indication of the far off Assyrians? Or was this Yahweh himself angry? He burns with anger so that smoke is rising up. His lips and tongue were full of indignation and fire. His breath was like an overflowing stream that reached to your neck. He used a sieve to sift out the destruction of the various nations. He placed a bridle on the jaws of the people to lead them in the wrong direction. This is either a description of an anthropomorphic mad Yahweh or how Yahweh made the Assyrians mad.