When we speak of a ‘deadline’ we are talking about a time limit. For example, a student must turn in his paper by a certain date, a deadline. A news reporter has to finish writing his article by a certain time, a deadline, in order to get his work into today’s paper. The word appears to have come into use right at the time of the Civil War. A line was created on a battlefield and when the approaching troops crossed it, the order was to fire upon them with deadly force. Some suggest that it was also used for a line of stakes placed around prisons marking out a perimeter. If any prisoner crossed that boundary, guards were given orders to ‘shoot to kill’ hence, a ‘deadline.’
Nahum, a preacher of the Old Testament, was moved by the Spirit to lay down a ‘deadline’ for a sinful nation. Nineveh, Assyria’s capital, was a city of bloodshed, the conquering empire a particularly brutal one in a time of terrible brutality. The Assyrians overcame cities, slaughtered the noble classes, and deported much of the rest of the population. They then moved other conquered people into the area. This practice disrupted social order and destroyed the ability of their victims to organize resistance since they did not share a heritage, a language, or a religion! The empire had grown increasingly powerful, enriched by the plunder seized by their armies.
Nahum declared that God was not blind to the cruelty, to their greed, and their wickedness. “I am your enemy!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Your chariots will soon go up in smoke. Your young men will be killed in battle. Never again will you plunder conquered nations. The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more.” What sorrow awaits Nineveh, the city of murder and lies! She is crammed with wealth and is never without victims.” (Nahum 2:13-3:1, NLT)
As I read those ancient words, my heart was stirred, too. A delusion has fallen over us that God is either unseeing or that He is impotent, incapable of bringing real justice. We go about life with so little regard for His way, His will.
In Psalm 73, a godly writer talks about the prosperity of the wicked and how it often appears that they are ‘getting away with it.’ “Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth.”
This man is tempted to join them saying, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.” (Psalm 73:9-13, NIV) But, then he humbles himself in worship and realizes, like Nahum, that God still has a deadline, though not always one we can see with our limited vision. He reflects, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!” (Psalm 73:16-19, NIV)
Oh my fellow Christian, have you grown weary of holding onto the ways of the Lord? Are you tempted to believe that there is no justice, no reward, no accountability – that God is unseeing of the evil of our time? Let the words of the ancient preacher remind you that He does see and that He has drawn a deadline. Nahum declared – “The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.” (Nahum 1:3, NLT)
I weep for my country, seeing our injustice, our greed, our willingness to take from the poor, to use violence to accomplish our national will.
I weep for those individuals who are ignoring God, assuming that they can do as they please without consequence.
I pray earnestly for myself! Lord, keep me faithful. Help me to love You so intensely that I am not tempted to walk near the deadline!
Here is a word from the Word.
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:22-24, NLT)
“But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23, NLT)
Have you received His gift of life? Are you living with your centered on ‘those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life?’ Or, are you pushing the deadline of Heaven?