"All thy strongholds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater. Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women." (**Nahum 3:12-13a)
"Your bureaucrats are locusts, your brokers and bankers are locusts. Early on, they're all at your service, full of smiles and promises, But later when you return with questions or complaints,
you'll find they've flown off and are nowhere to be found." (Nahum3:16-17)
How is it we think that independence from God will make us stronger? Let's look at this on a national level for starters. As much as skeptics try to rewrite history the fact remains, the U.S. was once a nation whose strength was in her God. So long as He was celebrated in our hearts and homes our country prospered. God truly did bless America. But once we stopped blessing Him our nation began to weaken on every front. We are not stronger today than we were twenty, fifty or a hundred years ago. On the contrary, we are more vulnerable than ever, like overripe fruit hanging on by a limb that's ready to be shaken. The reason- we have grown less dependent upon our Maker. "Thanks for the blessings," we have declared. "Now that we have them you're no longer needed!" Even the mere mention of His name becomes increasingly more taboo in the public arena. We have erased it from our pledge and eradicated it from our constitution. As this trend continues we grow progressively weaker. Sadly, most are too blind to notice.
The people of Nineveh didn't see it either. They had experienced great revival under the ministry of Jonah but it didn't last. They soon bought the lie that strength is found in independence and dominance. They severed all ties with the very God who had prospered them then went on a mad crusade to conquer the world. By the time Nahum arrived on the scene, their empire was already crumbling apart. Nahum likens her strongholds to a fig tree with firstripe figs. This was not a compliment. Though fig trees are known to be quite sturdy, those first figs of spring can be shaken out quite easily. God was prepared to shake Nineveh's tree so that every last fig (or Assyrian) would fall into the mouth of Babylon (the eater).
As if it were not insulting enough to call the Ninevites "figs" the Lord threw another zinger their way. He called them a bunch of women! Now, there is nothing wrong with being a woman unless, of course, you happen to be a man. And that's really who God was addressing. In other words, the men of Nineveh were a bunch of sissies. Though they may have been brawny as Spartan warriors they were still pansies deep down. I once heard my father tell a fellow, "You may be a tiger to your friends but you're an animal cracker to me." That was the message God had for Nineveh. And that is His message for anyone who thinks they can bully His people. The anatomy of every bully is basically the same: muscle on the outside, mush on the inside, soft little wimps who hide behind whatever biceps they may have. But they are no match for God. He seems to bring out the true coward in them.
Next God attacks Nineveh's entire political and economic infrastructure, calling the bureaucrats, brokers and bankers "locusts." Even as I write we see these same three swarming on the nightly news and, quite frankly, we're all "bugged" by these irritating grasshoppers. As an answer to our nation's present crisis, the busy bureaucrats are bailing out the belly-up bankers before brokers go broke. This trillion dollar bandage will only serve to keep a few lucky locusts alive a little longer. And they will do what they always have done, swarm in and swarm out after devouring everything green in their path. There is no doubt that the bureaucrats, brokers and bankers are in bed with each other but they're not the ones getting short sheeted. Notice what else the Lord says about them:
"Early on, they're all at your service, full of smiles and promises, But later when you return with questions or complaints, you'll find they've flown off and are nowhere to be found."
One has to laugh, it's so true. Bankers really butter you up to get your business. After that you call an 800 number and get lost in a series of digitized voice menus. It really is frustrating. Last time I called to get a credit card error corrected I ended up talking to a customer service rep in another country. We could barely understand each other so I had to call back and go through all the prerecorded gibberish again. At least Nineveh didn't have voice mail!
It is somewhat concerning that these same criticisms of Nineveh are also true of our own nation. Or, at least, we are headed in that direction. We have declared our independence from God and as a result have grown weak. Our strongholds have become fig trees while our men have turned into women. And we all know the latest buzz about our locusts. An honest assessment of our nation is healthy. It is a step toward change. But what is more important is an honest assessment of our selves. That's where the real change begins. We must ask, "Where do I fit in with God's critique?" We must allow Him to shake our tree so all the first figs can fall. Once that happens we will bear the fruit that pleases Him.
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (**2 Chronicles 7:14)