GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
1 CHRONICLES 1:10
10 Cush was the father of Nimrod. Nimrod was the first to be a mighty warrior on the earth.
We hear more about Nimrod’s kingdom in Genesis 10:8-12, but then, since it included Babylon, we hear more about it in Genesis 11:1-9, and then again, since this is the Book of Chronicles, we hear even more about this kingdom in 1 Chronicles 9:1 and much more in the final chapter of 2 Chronicles (36:6-23).
Nimrod appears in the same way Cain appeared after the fall. He was out to make a name for himself and to govern what he had, which was his right under the Fourth Commandment. Cain started to build a city, and Nimrod made a reputation and then he conquered or established many cities. But Nimrod wanted more than he had; more than one man can really govern.
If history records his name, it uses another name besides Nimrod (this is not uncommon– men can be known by several different names, depending on who it is who writes about them). Some think he might have been Sargon I, the builder of Uruk (Erech, Genesis 10:10), or one of Sargon’s descendants. Another theory is that he was the legendary King Ninus (the “Ninny” of A Midsummer Night’s Dream). If Nimrod is the same man as Sargon, then he was the first man in history to rule over an empire, the Old Akkadian Empire.
“Mighty warrior” is just one word, gabor, in Hebrew. This is the word used for David’s “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:3), but also for the “heroic wife” (or “noble wife”) of Proverbs 31:10. In Genesis 10:9, Nimrod is called a “mighty hunter.” This great-grandson of Noah was a contemporary of Abraham. In those days, Abraham’s ancestor Eber was still very much alive and thriving, the last of the very long-lived Patriarchs. But then, Eber’s great-grandfather Shem was still alive, too. These were the men who passed down the right worship of the true God from one generation to another, calling sinners to repentance and to faith in the coming descendent of Eve who would end the curse upon man and the power of sin, death, and the devil.
Men like Nimrod were there as a challenge to the faith of the nations. By creating a great name for himself and perhaps building not only cities, but an empire, he and his successors would have been tempted to set up new religions, their own religions, to turn the hearts and minds of their people to them and not to anyone else. A tyrant is jealous even of the faith of his people. He does not trust religion because he does not trust in God. He knows from experience that he cannot keep God’s commandments, and so he assumes that no one else will even try. So even though he would find that God gives him the authority to rule and govern under the Fourth Commandment, he rejects it anyway, along with the rest of the will of God. He makes a religion in his own image, which is always a religion of oppression, vague promises, and threats. Even good works are held in suspicion.
The church must live and survive under tyrants. “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance, in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots, in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness, in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4-7). We will be accused of being haters, imposters, thieves, sinners, and more– the tiniest error that would be laughed away as virtue in a wicked man will be held up to condemn the poor Christian who stumbles just a little along the way. God forbid that a righteous man would ever appear in public when he is tired, or distracted, or worried, or carrying a burden, or grieving, or else the wicked will assault him and accuse him of the worst things anyone can imagine.
This is how a tyrant like Nimrod leads his empire. His people act like him because they fear him. May God spare us from such men and women who lead by fear and lies and threats. May God help us to see that such people are to be watched carefully as they rise to power. We are commanded to obey them up to the point where they command or threaten us to violate the word of God, where we must say, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). For God comforts us with his promises, and he says: “Obey me, and you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 11:4). The one who listens to and obeys God’s word will live by his word. Better to be a humble guest at the Lord’s table than be a mighty warrior on the earth.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
God’s Word for You – 1 Chronicles 1:10 A mighty warrior on the earth