Do Not Forget Nahum

Jonah is a Sunday School favorite. How can he not? The hesitant prophet. Swallowed by a great fish. Thrown up on the shore. Preaches to Ninevites. A great repentance ensues. Despite having an attitude when the wicked city repents, Jonah is celebrated. Lots of kids are named after him.

But what about Nahum? “Na-who,” you ask? Like Jonah, a minor prophet who is two books closer to the New Testament, he preached to Nineveh, doing so one generation later. He prophesied of God’s inescapable and imminent judgment that was now upon them.

What about the repentance and revival that was just a few years before? Apparently, it was short-lived. Nineveh’s kids ignored their parent’s contrition and returned to their pagan and brutal ways. And Nahum tells them God has had it. His patience had run out:

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. (Nahum 1:2)

God does not leave Nineveh unpunished for returning to her sin. She will be annihilated by the Babylonians. The beat-down so thorough, the great city’s ruins were not discovered until 1845, twenty-five centuries after their defeat.

There is a lesson for us. God has His Jonah’s today. “Repent or be overthrown” is to be the cry of the pulpit. At least it is supposed to be. And that message is for individuals and nations. God has been incredibly patient through the years; with us and our nation.

But what about His Nahum’s? When will He send them?

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
    the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
    and clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)

God’s patience must never be misunderstood as weakness. Individual and national sin will not be left unpunished. “I will make your grave, for you are vile,” says God through Nahum (1:14). And continuing, “I will throw filth at you with contempt and make you a spectacle” (3:6). No individual or earthly power that defies God escapes judgment.

The man in the pew who refuses to give up his vice; the woman in the pew who refuses to give up her anger; the youth in the pew who refuse to give up culture’s norms; and the children in the pew who refuse to believe the promise of their baptism; will not escape.

The nation who refuses to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and defies God’s law by making up her own, will not escape either. It too is just a matter of time. At some point, the wound is incurable, Nahum’s closing verse confirming, “There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous” (3:19). Yes, it was. But what about us?

May Jonah’s call for repentance be heard. But if it is not, Nahum’s oracle of woe is forthcoming. God’s patience regarding sin is finite; there is an end. There will be a day of reckoning.

We must heed Jonah. Otherwise, there will be a Nahum. You can count on it.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
May 27, 2021   

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