nahum-1

2 Chronicles 2, Nahum 1

Today our OT18 readings are 2 Chronicles 2 and Nahum 1

This devotional is about Nahum 1.

Ninevah was the capital city of Assyria, an empire that defeated and took captive the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They Assyrians were more than a mighty army and a world power; they were an incredibly cruel to the people they defeated. Their enemies, therefore, hated and feared the Assyrians more than they did other enemies.

The prophet Jonah was sent to preach judgment to Ninevah. He refused to go to Ninevah and had to be dragged there by God via the fish that we read about in Jonah 1-2. It was his hatred of the Assyrians and his fear that God would forgive them that caused Jonah to head for Tarshish instead of Ninevah. Sure enough, the people of Ninevah repented and God was merciful to them.

Here in the book of Nahum, God’s prophet had a second word for the Assyrians. Right out of the box in verse 2, Nahum said to the people of Ninevah, “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.” Bad news, Ninevah, the forecast calls for judgment.

Verse 3 tempered the message of God’s wrath with the phrase, “The Lord is slow to anger....” This is part of what Jonah said to God in his complaint when the Ninevites repented: “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger...” (Jonah 4:2e). Here, Nahum echoed that truth briefly in 1:3 but then continued, “...but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” This is the message about God that is missing in our culture.” Christians and non-Christians cling to the truth that God is loving-and he is! But the fact that God doesn’t dramatically judge sin with a worldwide flood or fire and brimstone in this age has lulled people into complacency about the wrath of God. Nahum’s warning for Ninevah was that God was very angry with them and that he would punish them for their sin. But within that message of judgment there was still the offer of mercy in the words, “The Lord is slow to anger” (v. 3a). Later in verse 7, Nahum returned to positive aspect of God’s character when he wrote, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” but he quickly added, “...but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness” (v. 8).

God’s wrath and God’s judgment are not the core of our faith but they are important to our faith. Until people believe that God is angry and his judgment is coming, they will not repent and receive his mercy. As Christians, then, we can never soft-pedal or re-define sin, no matter how acceptable sins may become in our society or how much our society reacts against the truth of God’s wrath. The most loving thing you can tell a sinner is that God is angry and preparing judgment for them but that he will be merciful if people turn to Christ.

Look for ways to talk about that today with someone who is under the wrath of God.

2 Chronicles 2, 1 John 2, Nahum 1, Luke 17

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 2, 1 John 2, Nahum 1, Luke 17. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Nahum 1.

Although God was merciful to Ninevah when he sent Jonah to preach to them, their repentance was not permanent. Nahum was chosen by the Lord to prophesy again concerning the great capital city of Assyria. He began his prophecy by talking about God. God is not passive when it comes to sin and his enemies; rather, he is “a jealous and avenging God” who “takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (v. 2). He is not, however, hasty or quick-tempered; verse 3 said, “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” The rest of verses 3-6 describe God’s power over nature and how he sometimes uses that power in judgment (v. 6). 

However, God is not about anger exclusively, or even primarily. For anyone “who trusts in him” (v. 7b), he “is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (v. 7a). This was a particularly good word (v. 15a) for God’s people; they had been dominated by the Assyrians and evacuated from their land. This was God’s discipline for their own idolatry and sin but, in faithfulness to his covenant, he promised again to restore them to their land. “Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.”

This is the kind of reminder we need when we feel outnumbered and intimidated by wickedness around us. God is patient now with the world but he will bring justice in his time. It is also important to remember that he will save his enemies if they trust in him (v. 7b).

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.