Nahum 3:16 — Xanadu
You have increased your traders more than the stars of heaven– The creeping locust strips and flies away.
Howard Hughes was the wealthiest man in the world in his day yet was a victim of his own success. The last twenty years of Hughes’ life were spent in self-exile in the penthouse apartment of the Xanadu condominium in the Bahamas, but he would not allow anyone to enter. Paranoia of everything gripped Hughes so that he could not enjoy the success he had earned. Believing germs were everywhere to make him sick, and believing others were trying to steal his money, Hughes’ self-imposed exile isolated him from reality.
Our text describes for us another, real illustration of the dangers of trust in wealth. Nahum became a prophet around 663 B.C. Incidentally, the city of No-Amon (v. 8) was captured by Assyrian king Assurbanipal in 663. No-Amon, also known as Thebes was the greatest city in Egypt. Now, why does Nahum refer to No-Amon, and why should we today take note? The city enjoyed a position of easy defense since it was located on a peninsula, defended on two sides by water. The city of Thebes, known for its great commerce, fell in spite of its defenses and immense wealth.
Nahum uses Thebes to illustrate the fall of another great Middle-Eastern city. The Book of Nahum was written to encourage the nation of Judah with the pronouncement of judgment upon the Assyrians. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was as populated and wealthy as Thebes had been. Because of God’s judgment, Nineveh would fall just as Thebes had fallen. Wealth would not be enough to save the city from destruction. Nineveh enjoyed so much success that they had deluded themselves into believing their city was impregnable. They had isolated themselves from the greatest reality in the world, God, to live in a world of the pursuit of self-interest. We learn one simple truth from our text. You must not place your trust in money.
The people of Nineveh placed their trust in their financial condition. They were so confident in their money that they did not even build walls for their own defense! Misplace trust led to Nineveh’s defeat. The message of Nahum is an encouragement to you. You must not place your trust in money.
Money has its place. After all, where would we be without money? We would not be able to survive in our culture without money. Money is a tool we use as we live in our world. There is nothing inherently evil about money, so what I am about to say is not a statement against having a great deal of money. If God has blessed you with a large amount of money or other financial assets, then praise the Lord that He has blessed you in that way. The Bible never condemns money; rather, the Bible condemns the selfish use of and false trust placed in money.
God condemns the placing of trust in anything but Himself. 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” We so often trust in money to provide happiness. We say (at least with our actions), ‘When I buy such-and-such an item, I will be happy.’ The thing we want to buy may be any sort of thing, no matter how useful or practical. The point is that we trust that money can provide an object for us to enjoy
Have you ever seen a two-year-old child at a birthday party? He unwraps and unboxes the most wonderful toys. The colorful toys make all sorts of noises and flashes. The toys do neat things. The child will play with those toys for a little while, but after a short time, he is attracted to something else. The child is often more fascinated by the wrapping paper or the boxes than he is the toy itself. The child can enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting in a box. So often, we are distracted by the toys of life that we forget the simple pleasures life in Christ has to offer. We think that getting things will make us happy, but only Christ can truly make us happy.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
What characterizes the kind of person who puts his trust in money?
How often have you bought something that you thought would make you happy but only brought dissatisfaction?
In what ways are you prone to put trust in money rather than in God?