In contrast to the prophet Jonah and the good news he brought to Nineveh, the prophet Nahum brings a word of impending judgment from God for their wickedness. Even in the midst of this message of reckoning, however, the gracious and patient nature of the Lord shines through. "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him" (Nahum 1.7 CSB). These words echo the Psalmist in Psalm 34, where we are encouraged to "taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!" For those of us who find refuge in Christ, the great power of the Lord shown here is a message of comfort, not of doom, for in him we find hope, protection, and the assurance that righteousness and justice will ultimately prevail over evil.
In this passage, Jesus dines with the Pharisees a second time. As expected, the controversy between the Jewish leaders and Jesus continues, this time focusing on outward versus inward cleansing and holiness. As we know, the Pharisees made a big production of outward shows of piety and religion, but as Jesus points out, their lives did not show the marks of truly changed and renewed hearts. In his harsh critique, he exposes their hypocrisy. Unfortunately, hypocrisy and Pharisaism were not limited to Jesus' time but continue in the church to this day. It is nonetheless to be avoided and repented of as we humble ourselves in faith. Hypocrisy "is a hateful malady toward God and humanity. The hypocrite is not whatever he seems to be and is thought to be. He borrows the reputation of goodness and conceals his real shame. He will not practice the very thing that he praises and admires. It is impossible for you to hide your hypocrisy for long. Just as the figures painted in pictures fall off as time dries up the colors, so also hypocrisies, after escaping observation for a very little time, are soon convicted of being really nothing" (St Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke).