When I noticed that the scripture block for a week of Come Follow Me was “Nahum, Habbakuk, and Zephaniah,” I thought to myself, “I don’t know if there are any books of scripture that I know _less_ about than these three!” You might feel the same way.
As I read these books more carefully, however, I saw a powerful theme–Jesus Christ as the Lord of Hosts. This title appears 309 times in scripture, and it occurs in each of these three books. The Lord of Hosts doesn’t mean the Lord of people who hosts guests or parties. “Hosts” in this context means “Armies.” So more than 300 times, Jesus is referred to in scripture as the Lord of Armies–including Nahum 2:13, 3:5, Habakkuk 2:13, Zephaniah 2:9-10.
These verses (and those that surround them) show a sterner side of the Lord, one perhaps more focused on justice than mercy. Consider a consistent theme in these three books:
Nahum: God will punish the Assyrians for their wickedness
Habakkuk: God will use Babylon to destroy Jerusalem because of the wickedness of the people.
Zephaniah: The Lord Jerusalem, as well as surrounding wicked nations will be destroyed.
If you’re interested in exploring the sterner side of the Savior, I suggest you check out my video “The Savior with a Sword” (scroll to the bottom of this page to see it).
If you’re teaching your family or a class about these three books, consider the following as one way to approach this common theme (you could also modify the below and do it as a personal study).
- Ask people to find an image of Christ that they like and let some share which one they picked and why. (One fun way to do this with a larger group is to display a QR code to a Google Doc that is open for anyone to edit, and ask students to copy/paste their selected picture into the Google Doc, along with their name so you can scroll through and collectively look at the pictures displayed on a screen).
- Point out that nobody picked an image of Jesus Christ holding a sword (something like the image at the top of this post).
- Read a couple of verses that depict Christ in this way (e.g., Revelation 19:15, 21).
- Explain about the title “The Lord of Hosts” and highlight them in the books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah.
- Read and discuss selected verses that illustrate the principle that the Savior will bring justice, which sometimes means destroying the wicked (e.g., Nahum 1:2, 6, 2:13, 3:15, Habakkuk 1:6-10, Zephaniah 1:2-6, 14-18, 2:9-15). People could be assigned to read passages and then share what they have learned with others.
- Talk about why the concept of “A Savior with a Sword” might be helpful (I give several ideas in the below video). Let people talk/write about what it means to them personally.
- Before concluding, remind students that this is one side of the Savior (and perhaps a side we don’t frequently discuss). But it’s not the only side. Take some time to review a few verses from these books that show the lovingkindness of the Lord (e.g., Nahum 1:3, 7, Habakkuk 3:17-19, Zephaniah 3:14-20).
I hope this thematic approach is helpful to you as you study/teach Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. I share more insights on this topic in the below video, which is based on an excellent article by Kerry Muhlestein.
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