Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Guide - Week 5

CoreGroup Guide | Uncomfortable Truths - Part 5

Written by Christopher Burford and Sherrill Wall

In the time between 626-612 BC, there was great instability and uncertainty among nations due to powerful armies laying waste and destruction on places that included parts of Israel. It is said that these armies were ruthless to an extent never seen before and terror itself was weaponized. Instead of turning to God for help and guidance, the Bible tells us that the Israelites relied more on their own abilities, and they placed trust in alliances forged with outside nations.

These actions led to the rise of a prophet called Nahum who wrote vivid and shocking poems against those who would place trust on Earthly nations instead of placing full trust in God. The uncomfortable truth about this scenario is that we are faced with similar tendencies today. Even in the mundane daily life activities, we tend to take individual approaches to handle things without even stopping to ask God for guidance. This week, we are looking at a simple, yet complex, question: Who do you trust?
Let’s start with a prayer.

Opening Prayer
Hey God, thank you for this group and for gathering us together today. Please bless our conversations and open our hearts to opportunities to seek you for guidance and hope. It is in your name we pray, amen.

Ice Breaker
Have you ever participated in a trust game when your fate is uncertain? Maybe it was a “trust fall” which is usually depicted as falling backward with the expectation that your friends standing behind offer extended arms to catch you. Sometimes they do catch you, while other times it’s a trick. Discuss with the group.

The Head
As stated above, this week we are discussing the Old Testament Book of Nahum. Not much is known about him as a person, but we know the prophet Nahum would have been living in tumultuous times. Epic armies from Assyria would have been devastating nations and Israel would have been very afraid. Nahum would have seen Israel taking steps to forge alliances in an effort to defend against these armies. As a result, Nahum was blessed with insight to challenge Israel in their efforts and to steer them back to God. The selections of verses below reference different aspects of God’s relationship with people and of where trust is placed.

Nahum 1:2-3 (God is jealous)
2 The Lord is a jealous and vengeful God; the Lord is vengeful and strong in wrath. The Lord is vengeful against his foes; he rages against his enemies.
3 The Lord is very patient but great in power; the Lord punishes. His way is in a whirlwind and storm; clouds are the dust of his feet.

  • Nahum does not hold back in his description of God’s jealousy. What imagery do you see in this description?
  • These verses are not left without hope. What references to hope can you pull out of these two verses?
  • Do you think God’s jealousy has shifted? If so, who do you think it is focused on?

Nahum 1:12-14 (Even the mighty pass away)
12 The Lord proclaims: Though once they were a healthy and numerous force, they have been cut off and have disappeared. I have afflicted you; I won’t afflict you further, Zion.
13 Now I will break off his yoke from you and tear off your chains.
Assyrian king’s future doom
14 The Lord has commanded concerning you: You will have no children to carry on your name. I will remove carved idol and cast image from the house of your gods; I will make your grave, for you are worthless.

  • In verse 12, Nahum writes that God afflicted Israel for their Earthly alliance with a “healthy and numerous force.” What message of liberation does he write about Israel?

Nahum 2:8-10 (The fate of powerful nations)

8 Nineveh has been like a pool of water. Such are its waters,[a] and others are fleeing. “Stop, stop!”—but no one can turn them back.
9 Plunder silver! Plunder gold! There is no end to the supplies, an abundance of precious objects!
10 Destruction and devastation; the city is laid waste! The heart grows faint and knees buckle; there is anguish in every groin; all the faces grow pale.

  • Assyria was viewed as a powerful nation back then and it was located in what is now known as Iraq. Nineveh was the Assyrian capital that had a status as the largest city in the world for a period of 50 years. This city was not completely destroyed, but history shows its significance lessened. What message about Earthly kingdoms can be drawn from these verses?

The Heart
There is an uncomfortable term to describe people who identify as religious but live as self-sufficient individuals without feeling the need to pray. The pattern would be like going to church maybe and then leaving God at church without communicating further. The term to describe this lifestyle is called “functional atheism.” It is going through the actions of worship without true belief.

  • Honestly, functional atheism seems like a slow burn to suffering. It seems like it’s part of a sneaky plot to pull us away from God without being noticed. What are some life events that fuel this kind of separation?
  • This may be uncomfortable, but if you think back on events in your life from the past week, what things did you decide without considering your faith and relationship to God? Was this intentional or did you just forget? Or was there a different reason?
  • What are some ways to guard against functional atheism?

The Hands
Theologian Paul Tripp writes that “there’s another side to functional atheism that we need to be aware of. Maybe we aren’t as extreme to assess our lives in a God-absent way, but perhaps the God we remember is small, distant, disconnected, uncaring, and seemingly unwise. In ways we don’t realize, we experience trouble not only because of the stress of life in a broken world but also because of how we interpret the character, size, and strength of the God who rules in that brokenness.”

  • What are some ways this week you can feel the presence of God?
  • What are some ways this week you can remind yourself of the sheer power and awe that is divinely part of the God who loves us?
  • In the spirit of looking out for each other, what are some ways we can encourage others to stay connected to God?

Closing Prayer
Hey God, this week’s conversation was difficult. There are many loud voices in this world that encourage us to rely on ourselves for things like safety and prosperity when we should be seeking you first. There are many who offer false promises of peace when it is you who offers the path to true peace. Please forgive us. Thank you for your steadfast love and for never giving up on us. Please guide us this week in our decisions and on our paths. It is in your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Project - Nahum 
Largest Cities Through History 
Are you a Functional Atheist? By Paul Tripp

From Pastor Charity
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