While deciding what to write for each day this week I was quite confused about the second chapter of the prophet Nahum. The book at face value is a prophecy of a military assault on Nineveh. Verses one and two call the people of Nineveh to battle. Verses three through seven go through the visions of the battle. Using phrases like “Chariots rage in the streets” and “The palace is dissolved” or my personal favorite, “They run like lightning.” Close to the end of this section is the phrase “She shall be led away captive.” Nahum saw the outcome of the battle and knew that Nineveh would eventually fall to the hands of this mighty army. In verses eight through twelve, is the prophecy of Nineveh crumbling and being looted after the war. “Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize.” Nineveh was seriously gone.
“I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.”
That was Nahum 2:13. The direct quote from God, the LORD Almighty, was that he was against Nineveh. While reading a commentary about this, the author quoted Romans 8:31 “…If God is for us then who can stop us.” The author followed it up with the question “If God is against you, who can be for you?”
This small chapter of the Bible is one that may not be entertaining at first glance but there at the end, ask yourself the question; “Would God have a reason to be against me?”
Pray for discernment of all things in your life, and repent. Get right with what rules God has laid out for us to follow, so that God will be for us.
Really, ask yourself the question, “Would God have a reason to be against me?” Pray for discernment, examine yourself and repent.
Are there any of God’s rules that you need to work a bit harder at following? Which ones
How would you answer question 1 in light of Romans 3:23? What does Jesus’ sacrifice for your forgiveness mean to you? Does this mean you can sin now?
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.
Yesterday, we saw Jonah’s reluctance to God’s call for his life. Actually, “active rebellion” against God’s call is more accurate! However, we saw Jonah pray to God during his time in the belly of the great fish. We were left asking the question, “Will Jonah finally answer the call to proclaim God’s message?”
He does. In 3:1, the word of the LORD comes a second time to Jonah. In 3:3, “Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.” As the story goes, which so many of us learned in our childhood Sunday school, Jonah preaches that Nineveh will be destroyed, and so the Ninevites repented. And our happy ending occurs in 3:10: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
But wait. There’s more.
Why was Jonah SO reluctant to preach to Nineveh? Why did he run in the opposite direction to avoid God’s call on his life? Why did it take a great storm, being thrown overboard, and three days in the belly of a fish to learn his lesson? And why did Jonah scoff at the mercy of God in 4:1?
The truth is, we will never be able to see Nineveh or Assyria in the same way Jonah did. We didn’t grow up witnessing the brutality and evil that Assyria committed with every passing year, and we will never experience the same wars and terrible things that it did to Israel. But Jonah was very close to the evil that Nineveh did. In fact, Jonah had some really good reasons to really, really dislike Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to see God’s mercy extended to his enemies. He actually wants to see the destruction of a city with 120 thousand people because he dislikes them so much! In fact, he camps out at the edge of the city hoping that their repentance doesn’t last.
And so God decides to teach Jonah a lesson. He grows a plant that gives shade and comfort to Jonah, and then kills it. Jonah reacts with anger once again. And finally God teaches Jonah the lesson he needed all along: Nineveh is like the plant in this story. God grew it and has concern for it (see 4:11). But on the other hand, he scolds Jonah for caring about a plant he never grew in the first place. In other words, just like the plant, Jonah has no right to be angry about a people that are actually God’s business all along.
So what do we learn here? There are a lot of lessons that come out of Jonah: God’s ways are far higher than our ways. His sense of justice and mercy will sometimes be at odds with our understanding of justice and mercy. We are challenged to lay down our prejudice and serve others in the name of God. And when God calls you to Nineveh, don’t run away– just go!
These three chapters make up the entire book of Nahum. At the beginning of this book we are told that it is the vision Nahum was given. This vision prophesied the downfall of the wicked city of Nineveh. The language in this book is very vivid and paints a terrifying picture of the price that those in Nineveh were to pay.
God had been patient with Nineveh, but as Chapter 1 (v.3) reads, “The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” The people of Nineveh had for too long relished in the ways of the flesh. The LORD could no longer tolerate the filth that they spread.
If you may recall, this is not the first time that we are introduced to the people of Nineveh in the Old Testament. A previous book, Jonah, describes how the people of Nineveh had before turned against the LORD. Eventually Jonah made it to Nineveh and told them of what God planned to do because of their wickedness. The people of Nineveh repented of their ways and the LORD preserved them. However, in Nahum, we learn that the people of Nineveh had again turned from the LORD.
An interesting part of this event is how it would have been in the grasp of the people of Nineveh to avoid such a fate. Chapter 1 even talks of how we can look to the LORD in times of trouble. It tells of his goodness and his care for those that trust in him. If only the people of Nineveh had continued to turn to the LORD rather than to sin.
Sometimes, though, it can be easier to turn away from the LORD. When we turn toward him, there are many tempting things of the flesh that we have to turn away from. Taking part in these sinful acts is not usually difficult on our part. It is easy to sin. However, the consequences that follow that sin are usually never easy. Our sin creates many issues for us in life.
This can be paralleled to how we use our time on a daily basis. Watching another episode of our favorite show on Netflix may be easier than getting work done, but in the long run, which one counts? Watching tv may feel good in the moment, but as we look back on our day, we will feel less accomplished and possibly even stressed because we may feel behind on our work. If we had worked hard at the start, we would have avoided the stress and been left with a feeling of accomplishment.
So, if we initially put in the effort to turn to the Lord and trust in him, he will be our refuge. We will be able to avoid some of the heartache and discipline that would have followed us if we took the easy way out and fell into temptation. That does not mean, though, that if we follow the Lord, we will avoid all kinds of trouble. On the contrary, there will always be storms that we face in this life. If we turn to the Lord, though, we will have a rock to stand firm on during these storms. We will not be blown away by the heavy winds.
The prophet Nahum is incredibly descriptive in his writing concerning the imminent doom of Nineveh. When reading, I thought of war movies like, 300, the Patriot, Saving Private Ryan and others, because of the picture Nahum paints with his words. However, the question arises at one time or another for most people. How can God be a good loving God and yet declare wrath on nations and individuals? It seems mutually exclusive and inconsistent. Maybe you have given thought to this at times?
Currently while I am interning in Texas I have a side job. Well, really a side job that’s full time. I work at the elementary school in town and I work with first through third graders. The kids I work with have behavioral, learning, and psychological diagnoses. I love my kids. But at times they conduct themselves in ways that are totally unacceptable. Because I love them and want the best for them I have to discipline them. I want the best for their lives and that will be hindered greatly if their outbursts go on unchecked. Now I give them plenty of chances to turn things around and correct their behavior before I have to bring the hammer of correction down. And when I do it’s not uncommon to hear “you’re mean Mr. Rohrer!” “I don’t like you!” and even “I can’t wait for you to move back to Ohio!”.
On a much grander scale, God, because he loves must punish and be wrathful. Just as if parents don’t care about their children they won’t disciple them, if God didn’t enact judgement he wouldn’t be caring. And the worst thing is not wrath, but indifference. I read someone that said, if God didn’t judge and enact wrath then peace would never be realized on earth. You see, if God didn’t hold evil accountable, then who else will enact justice? It’ll be up to you and me. But because I know God holds all things accountable, I can endure persecution and wrongdoing knowing one day God will make all right, because he loves. In the meantime, I am to live out the kingdom peace we are called to.
A loving God and a wrathful vengeful God are not incompatible. They go hand in hand and the author of Nahum understood this:
“A jealous and avenging God is Yahweh
Yahweh is avenging and wrathful.
Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries
And reserves wrath for his enemies.
Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power
And Yahweh will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…