How many of you are fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien? How many have read Lord of the Rings? How many have read The Hobbit? Well, it doesn’t take long to notice I’m a huge Tolkien nut when you enter my office and see all the characters from all the movies atop my bookshelf in the form of Pez figurines.
It’s a funny thing when you make a book into a movie isn’t it? There’s so much material in the book that is often hard to reproduce the same story in film. One interesting thing the director Peter Jackson has done with Tolkien’s works is to make both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit into trilogies. Each movie is then given a specific title pertaining to its place in the overall plotline. Now whether or not you agree with what Peter Jackson is doing when he chooses these titles is a matter for another time, what I want to draw your attention to is the title to the second film in the Hobbit trilogy. It’s called – The Desolation of Smaug. It’s a perfect title for this second film because the word “desolation” draws attention to the utter misery the dragon Smaug brings upon the Dwarvish kingdom of Erebor and the neighboring city Dale. These kingdoms were wealthy beyond belief, sturdy, secure, seemingly safe. They were the kingdoms of renown in Middle Earth. Yet, when Smaug came, desolation came with him. Anguish, ruin, decay, despair, violence, poverty, isolation and bleakness came upon these people. This is not so different to what took place in Nahum’s prophecy over the city of Nineveh; ruin, decay, anguish, violence, utter-misery, a whole people being cut off. Except in Nineveh’s case there was no dragon fire, there was something worse, the consuming fire of the wrath of God.
Recall the context of Nahum as we enter into chapter 2. The prophet Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh and they repented. Close to 120-150 years later we learn that though genuine, the repentance of Nineveh didn’t last long, perhaps it only lasted for that generation that heard Jonah. Well, their wickedness not only returned but grew in its violence, and into this violent city a century later God sends another prophet, Nahum, not with a message of grace like Jonah, but with a message of judgment. In chapter 1 of Nahum we see the Divine Warrior speaking to both Nineveh and to Judah. He speaks a comforting word to His people and says He will crush the Assyrian capitol of Nineveh and bring their wickedness to an end. It is a harsh and terror filled word for Nineveh to hear this Divine Warrior say He will make of end of them quickly. Once we enter into Nahum 2 we see this Divine Warrior begin His assault on Nineveh and carry out the judgments He had previously announced in chapter 1.
Notice the “Call to Arms” in 2:1. As we saw God mock Nineveh and its leaders by calling them names in Nahum 1:10-11, so too we see God toy with Nineveh using more satire, mockery, and ridicule in Nahum 2:1. “The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts, watch the road, dress for battle, collect your strength.” Though God is the Divine Warrior with no equal, He calls His enemy to meet Him in battle, ready, watchful, and full of strength. He does this even though it is painfully obvious who the winner of this matchup will be. This is not a David vs. Goliath battle, this is not mono e mono fight, this infinite Creator ablaze in His glory is lining up against finite creation aware of its own imperfection and weakness.
“Meet me in battle the Lord says, prepare your strength, do everything you can do to get ready, I am upon you and I will scatter you!”
This makes me think of a truth given to us in the letter to the Galatians. Though God may mock His enemies, He can never be mocked Himself: “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked…” (Galatians 6:7)