An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. (Nahum 1:1, ESV)
We will move on to verse 2 today, but one more point about verse 1. Nahum was God’s mouthpiece to declare war and disaster on Nineveh because of their wickedness, especially their abuse of his own chosen people. Israel had turned from him, but the people of Israel were still his!
A good father will protect his child from immediate danger, then punish that same child for the disobedience that led to the danger. A loving husband will defend his wife even if he is irritated with her.
When the dust settles, the cause and effect will not be necessarily obvious. Historians and politicians are forever trying to place blame for catastrophes. Nahum’s prediction of impending disaster is not an educated guess about future political affairs or the cause of these upcoming disasters. God is setting the record straight before anyone could predict the event. There will be no need for speculation, no need for postulation, no need for imagination or fantasy. Both the power that brought the disaster and the motivation behind it is spelled out in divine revelation!
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. (Nahum 1:2, ESV) Such jealousy might be considered petty by foolish people. Jealousy in imperfect humans is often petty, but not always. These foolish detractors willfully ignore one fact – anything that pulls people away from fellowship with God’s own perfect self is an atrocity to both his perfection and their wellbeing.
“You shall have no other gods before me.You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,” (Exodus 20:3-5 ESV) In perfect jealousy God is jealous to keep his people for himself.
When they are unfaithful to him there are consequences. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Hebrews 12:5-8 ESV)
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalms 103:8-13 ESV)
But woe to the one who abuses his loved ones! “The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.” (Psalms 92:6-9 ESV)
As one commentator says “this attribute of jealousy often used to describe God’s burning zeal for his wife, Israel, emphasizes his passionate reaction against anyone guilty of spiritual adultery.”
We have seen that the Lord is slow to anger, but due to his holiness and our sinfulness his anger is not abated until punishment is fulfilled. This is simply justice served. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them” (Ephesians 5:6-7 ESV) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV).
“Jehovah avenges. Jehovah avenges and possesses wrath. He will avenge.” Keeping his wrath is not like us nursing a grudge. God keeping his wrath is holy reservation of judgment until the properly appointed time, to deliver the proper punishment, against the proper despisers of the Holy One, in the proper measure. Nobody will be missed. Nobody will be overlooked due to the long time between crime and punishment. Here it is applied to Nineveh. “To my Israel, I don’t forget.” “The destruction of your enemies (actually my enemies on the account of their detestable acts against my beloved) is assured.”
“I always see.”
“I will pay them for their sins.”
“I always pay.
“Be patient. Be warned.”