Patient God – Jealous God
Nahum 1-3 and Revelation 11
In Nahum, we read of God’s declaration of destruction against Nineveh. You may recall that over 100 years prior to Nahum, Jonah had preached against Nineveh. At that time, the people repented of their sins, so God didn’t send destruction at that time.
But that repentance didn’t last, and the people of Nineveh became more idolatrous and more sinful than ever. So in Nahum 1:2 we read, “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.”
Normally, we think of jealousy as a bad thing, like “You have something I want, and I’m jealous.” Many times in the Bible, God talks of his jealousy as a relationship He wants to protect – sort of like a husband and a wife who are united. If one strays, the other would be very jealous, not wanting to share their spouse with another. In this case, God doesn’t want anyone worshiping anyone but Him, but Nineveh is worshiping idols – making God jealous.
And similarly, we typically also think of vengeance as a bad thing – and for us to take vengeance is indeed wrong. But God is a holy God, and can’t tolerate people flouting His law and do nothing about it. We’re told in Deuteronomy 32:35, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.”
So in Nahum, God is declaring war against Nineveh and its people because of their sins. It seems kind of odd, then, that verse 3 continues by talking about how patient God is: “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.”
God had indeed been slow to anger. He had given the people at least another 100 years to get right with Him. He had been very patient. But at some point, even God has had enough and will act, not leaving the guilty unpunished.
This was true for Nineveh, when it was destroyed in 612 B.C. And this fact is still true today.
We’re told in 2 Peter 3: 9-10, “9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Again, God is patient, wanting everyone to repent. But the time will come when He will destroy not Nineveh, but the earth, because of her sins.
In today’s reading in Revelation 11, we read about 2 witnesses that will prophesy for 1260 days at the end of this evil age. They will be killed, and then after 3.5 days, they will be resurrected and caught up to heaven. Then, in Revelation 11:15, the seventh trumpet will sound, and it will be declared, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Then in Revelation 11:18, we read, “The nations were angry and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
Notice in this passage there is a good news / bad news situation, declaring that God’s wrath has come (a bad thing), but also the time for rewarding His servants (a good thing)
In Nahum’s time, even with the bad things he was prophesying against Nineveh, Nahum was able to comfort God’s people with Nahum 1:15, “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” At the same time the guilty were being punished, the righteous were celebrating because of the peace they were about to enjoy.
We don’t know when, but we do know that one day, God will get so angry with the sinfulness rampant on earth that he will say, “enough”. He will send horrible plagues and destruction, and then send Jesus – who will judge the living and the dead, destroying the wicked in the lake of fire, and granting eternal life to the righteous.
Since we know these things are coming, what kind of lives should we be living – as we await the return of Jesus? The choice is yours. But there will be consequences.