The Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets) 15: Nahum
Who is a Righteous God Like You?
The God of the Old Testament - What is God like? What is the nature of the creator God who made the cosmos? Many today cannot tolerate a “god of wrath.” Looking at the Bible, people popularly divorce the “god” of the Old Testament and the “god” of the New Testament. The psychological god that gives out Zanex is ok. But the concept of a Being who avenges, is angry with the wicked, or punishes in Hell is truly inconceivable for modern or postmodern people. If scale of “niceness” is applied, the book of Nahum hardly makes the cut.
The God of History - God’s promised judgment and vengeance on Nineveh is the subject of the book of Nahum. About one hundred and fifty years after mercy was extended through the begrudging declarations of Jonah, Nahum prophecies the doom of the great city. The repentance of the city in the days of Jonah did not last. So Nineveh returned to the pattern of violence and wickedness. The Assyrians were the bloody warlords of the ancient world. Nahum declares in each of three chapters, “Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage” (3:1). These Nazis of old were well known for their cruelty. Throughout the history of the kings of Israel and Judah we read of them. For example, the “great king” of Assyria taunted Judah in the days of Hezakiah, “Certainly you have heard how the kings of Assyria have annihilated all lands. Do you really think you will be rescued?” (2Kgs 19:11-12). Yet God did rescue Judah from Assyria. History records the predicted judgment day when the Medes and Babylonians laid siege to the city in May 612 B.C. and in July, the city fell. The King (Sin-šar-iškun) committed suicide and looting continued until August the 10th, when the Medes left.
The God of Nahum - In Nahum we read of God’s character: “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies” (1:2). Also, this God will “make you vile, and set you up as a spectacle” (3:5-6). For those who do not relent in their evil, God brings judgment, historic and eternal. The God of Nahum also comforts His people with the truth that the unrepentant wicked get what they deserve. “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace! ... For never again will the wicked one pass through you; He is cut off completely” (1:15). The mercy of God extends to a thousand generations to the covenantally faithful, but to the enemies, “Your name will no longer be perpetuated” (1:14). Nevertheless in all of this presentation of the nature of God’s justice and fury, we still read Nahum confessing the patience and mercy of God. He writes, “The LORD is slow to anger” (1:3) and “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (1:7).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more