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Are you drunk?

A recent research study suggests that one drink a day could be enough to increase the risk of heart disease. The research found those with a gene variant that resulted in lighter drinking had lower heart disease incidence, contradicting popular claims that moderate consumption has a protective effect.  This finding adds to the general message that drinking costs lives, especially for those who get heavily intoxicated. That is on top of the tragedy we see on the roads from drunk driving.

The idea that drunkness is costly is infact at the very heart of Nahum’s oracle against Nineveh. Nahum starts by declaring that God's judgement is coming on Nineveh because through its oppression of God's people Judah it is actually at war against God.  Nineveh has embraced sin as its emblem and God will punish them. To be exact, Nineveh will punish itself : For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried. (‭Nahum‬ ‭1‬:‭10‬).

The nation of Nineveh is pictured like a person  who gets entangled in his own scheme and is eventually destroyed by it.  A drunkard who drives himself to destruction. Nahum's message is that sin is suicide.  Sin is not an expression of human freedom at its apex, it is actually an embrace of judgement. King Solomon echoes :  The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬)

Apostle Paul writing to the church at Rome many hundreds of years later reflected that the sinfulness of the human race is in fact God's judgement in action : They traded the glory of God who lives forever for the worship of idols made to look like earthly people, birds, animals, and snakes. Because they did these things, God left them and let them go their sinful way, wanting only to do evil. As a result, they became full of sexual sin, using their bodies wrongly with each other. (‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭23-24‬)

When we look at the world around us,  we may be tempted to think it is all out of control and that God is in fact absent.  The Bible makes it clear that in fact the situation is totally opposite. The rampant sin we see around does not suggest a vacuum of the divine, but rather it points us to the God who as at work judging the world now, and will ultimately bring it to full judgement later.

This means that rather than despairingly crying for God to judge the world quickly, perhaps we should be praying more for his mercy, so that more people are rescued before it is too late. We must be spurred on by Apostle Peter who reminds us that "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (‭2 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭9‬). We should recognise that the spread of sin is a last chance warning for us to get right with God. Sin is the ultimate Big Data that communicates God's impending divine judgement. 

Indeed, there's a sense in which recognising the terrible plight of the sinner and the world at large should drive followers of Jesus to true compassion for sinners. What we have in Nahum is a terrible and helpless image of the lost sinner at war with God! The sinner is like the drunken General Ivolgin in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. He has lost all handle on reality. He is unable to evaluate life properly and every decision he takes moves him away from the solution. Man in his sinfulness cannot save himself and frankly does not want to!

It only by the extraordinary  grace of God that anyone is a follower of Christ at all! The drunken sinner somehow by God the Spirit has heard the beckoning of love demonstrated by the Cross of Jesus. He has responded to the call of God and has been made sober through and by the Lord Jesus! When you realise the wonder of this grace you will treat other sinners with compassion and long for them to be disentangled and made sober as you have been. If you do not have a such a burning loving desire and compassion for sinners, perhaps the question you must answer is : are you drunk?

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Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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