This week I began reading Nahum. Though only a short read, the three chapters are filled to the brim with accurate prophecies regarding Nineveh’s destruction, and the attributes of God’s divine nature.
Nahum introduces God as “a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (v. 2). He takes up much of the second and third chapters describing the judgement to come upon Nineveh, which God would send in response to their sin and rebellion.
And yet, he also includes these little gems of truth:
“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.” v.3
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in Him.” v. 7
We’re all too happy to ponder the ‘nice’ traits of God – His love, kindness, mercy, compassion – preferring these to the justice, wrath or anger of God. But we cut Him short in this practice, marring the complete divine nature of our Heavenly Father. Without a sense of justice or right anger towards sin and evil, God would not be good; and powerlessness and indifference towards evil would mean He wasn’t God at all.
It is purely because of God’s anger towards sin that makes Him so good – without just wrath, we would be left to wallow in our sin and hopelessness as we ventured ever closer to an eternity of oblivion. Indifference by God would necessarily lead to relational distance, leaving us in a deistic reality with no hope of knowing true goodness and peace.
“Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfil your vows” v. 15
But God did not leave us in our sin! He is angry about our sin, and He cares for us. We know this because He sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross, paying our penalty for our sin. By trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, we are justified in God’s sight – no longer required to fulfil justice ourselves by enduring an eternity of hell. We step out of the path that would have lead to just, pure wrath for our sin – and step into the free, loving care of our Heavenly Father through faith.
And with that freedom comes the ability to carry on our lives as God’s people by His grace. To celebrate our great, powerful and just God, to fulfill our Christian duties to God and people, and to live in the joy and hope that springs from His great, saving grace.