"He was the first great warrior on Earth. He was a great hunter before GOD. There was a saying, 'Like Nimrod, a great hunter before GOD.'" (Genesis 10:9)
What? A great warrior? And just who was Nimrod at war with? Which brother? Or was it a cousin? Surely it had to have been a close relative. Or should I say "relatives?" Their names are all listed with Nimrod's in Genesis 10. Together they represented the entire population of the planet, the offspring of the infamous flood survivors. There weren't a whole lot of folks to tangle with back in those days. Somehow Nimrod rose up as the great warrior, ready to conquer a sparse civilization of kinsmen. The earth had barely dried from the deluge before he drew his line in the sand. And because of his might, many stood with him: brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Nimrod... It's not a popular name today. No decent parent would dare call their child that. It ranks up there with other fiendish names like Jezebel or Beelzebub. Now, you may refer to someone you think to be dense as a "nimrod" but that's a bit old school. Today we prefer the term "dipstick" for those who lack common sense. But that's not what Nimrod really means. It's Hebrew for 'we will rebel' (a brave thing to call a boy)! That great warrior, Nimrod, certainly lived up to his name. As far as we know, he led the first "organized" rebellion against God. Whether it was intimidation or admiration that rallied the troops we do not know. I suspect both as 'might' will use either to secure allegiances. When Nimrod flexed some muscle the people bowed. When he rebelled, they followed. When he fell, they scattered. That's how it always is. No one is loyal to muscle for very long.
Back in his heyday, Nimrod was famed for a few things. He was known as a great warrior but he fought no noble cause. He was hailed as a great hunter, which isn't a bad thing if the hunted aren't human. Finally, he was known for his conquests. His kingdom got its start with Babel - the official hub of mass rebellion. That is what Nimrod is best remembered for. Seldom do we think of him as the great warrior or the great hunter or the great conqueror. Ask me, he was nothing but a rebel - a rebel who used his might to turn an entire civilization against their Maker.
Rebellion is all about control. The rebel resists the control of authority while attempting to assume that control. He calls the shots and answers only to himself. Thus, the rebel becomes his own supreme authority. And in case you didn't know, that is what the word 'lord' means - supreme authority. So, you see, rebellion is a fight for lordship. In society we have many forms of lordship: governors, employers and law officers to name a few. To usurp their authority is rebellion. However, rebellion is at its worst when the supreme authority of God is challenged. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another. We have all had stubborn moments where we decided we weren't going to listen to the Lord. Hopefully they were just that - moments. It is quite another matter to choose a path of rebellion and stick to it; even worse, to lead others down that same sorry path! That's what the mighty Nimrod did. He set himself up as the first world dictator and championed a project known as The Tower of Babel. It didn't sound like a bad idea to those who supported the effort: stick together, become a united nation and reach for the stars. That's what we call a "progressive society" isn't it?
While all this had the delightful ring of community interest, it went against what God told His people to do. They were commanded to "fill the earth" not cluster together in a tall stack of bricks. But even rebellion can find its way in what we think to be the noblest of causes. Who knows how many of these masons thought they were in it for the common good of mankind. But that doesn't get anyone off the hook. There's a price to being a follower. Chances are, if you follow a rebel you'll go down with him no matter how noble your intent may be. True is the saying - the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
There is one more thing Nimrod is remembered for; in Genesis 10:11 we are told that he built Nineveh. I think it is also safe to say that Nineveh was built on rebellion. It served as the capitol city for one of the most rebellious people in the ancient world - the Assyrians. For centuries they followed the rebellious nature of their founding father, Nimrod. They were mighty warriors and great hunters of men. They were especially cruel to God's chosen people, the Jews. For whatever reason, God tried to reach out to them. No doubt it was an act of grace but it was really quite unusual for God to speak to depraved gentiles back in Old Testament times. Yet He saw fit to send two prophets to Assyria's capitol of Nineveh. The first was Jonah; then Nahum was sent about one hundred years later. Jonah was the unwilling messenger yet he had a successful ministry - everyone got saved. Nahum, on the other hand, was the willing messenger but had an unsuccessful ministry - no one got saved. You might say that those particular Ninevites were a bunch of nimrods!
An excerpt from "My City Was Gone" due out in 2009