Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Holy Prophet Nahum

You know how the Holy Prophet Jeremiah is called "The Weeping Prophet?" Well, I've often thought Nahum should be called "The Angry Prophet of Doom." His little book is full of predictions of calamity. And, to bad for Nineveh and the Assyrians, those prophecies of destruction were fulfilled.

But today, just 23 days from the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus, the Church Fathers put this huge downer of a Prophet on the calendar. Why? Well, he has to go somewhere, doesn't he? After, St. Paul commanded us to give honor to whom honor is due. So we must honor Prophet Nahum sometime during the year. But I think there is more to it than the Fathers pulling a date out of a hat and assigning it to this Prophet. I think the Holy Prophet Nahum being commemorated during Advent is no accident of chance. Rather, it is because the Word of the Lord Nahum received bears directly on the the Incarnation and the ministry of Jesus. At the beginning of a long list of horrible pronouncements against Nineveh are these words:

Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off. (Nahum 1:15)

So, in a few weeks when we mourn again with the mothers of Bethlehem, or when we only a few days ago were aghast at the martyrdom of St. Daniil of Moscow we continue on. We can keep our vows, and we can keep the solemn feasts - Nativity, Theophany, Annunciation, Pascha and the others - because even in the face of death The Gospel has been preached. The good news has been spoken by the Prince of Peace, and though we might die, that death is gain. Death is cut off as surely as the line of the kings of Assyria, as surely as Goliath's head.

The same event Nahum saw was revealed to another prophet who tells us a little bit more than did Nahum. We shall not just keep the solemn feasts solemnly. They shall be kept with happiness! The Holy Prophet Isaiah wrote:

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7)

It is not just solemnity, but happiness. It is not just the defeat of the enemy, but the victory of God. It is not just the ability to keep vows, it is salvation! That is what the Prophets saw. Well, not Nahum. He didn't have a vision as complete as Isaiah's. But he knew good was coming. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born he saw Jesus preaching on the mountain sides of Judah. He didn't hear the whole message but he knew it was good. And he waited for it. And that is why he is commemorated during Advent.

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