“Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue His enemies (Nahum 1:6-8).
How would you feel if you had forgiven someone who asked you to forgive them of the hurt they caused you, but then a short time later they did the exact same thing, but this time they refused to repent of the pain they caused you? How does God feel when people do this to Him as He shows them great mercy on one occasion when they humble themselves before Him, but then later they do the exact same thing, yet refuse to repent this time? The book of Nahum gives us a glimpse of how God feels in such a situation.
The prophet Nahum served God about 100 years after the prophet Jonah. Jonah had gone to ancient Assyrian capital of Ninevah and proclaimed, “"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). All of the people from the king to the commoner displayed repentance and humbled themselves before God (Jonah 3:5-9). What was God’s reaction to their humble repentance before Him? “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). Because He is gracious and merciful, God forgave them when they humbled themselves before Him!
However, about 100 years later when the prophet Nahum ministers before God, the attitude of the people of Ninevah had changed. Nahum describes the condition of the city of Ninevah: “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs” (Nahum 3:1). Once again, Ninevah had become filled with violence, lies, and idolatry (cf. Nahum 3:4). Ninevah had forgotten her revival during the days of Jonah and the mercy God had shown to her. Now she had stiffened her neck in rebellion against God.
As a result, as the opening verses above indicate, because of her determination to resist God’s goodness, she was no longer going to be the object of God’s mercy, but the object of God’s wrath (Nahum 1:6-8). Furthermore, Nahum adds, “God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; the Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; the Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked…” (Nahum 1:2-3).
As the opening verses above mention, God is good and He is a stronghold for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7). He is also slow to anger (Nahum 1:3). However, as the prophet Nahum describes, God will not allow Himself to be treated like a doormat even by those He loves and wants to help. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is essential that Christians realize both the goodness and the severity of God (Romans 11:22). Today, I will not despise God’s goodness by rejecting and rebelling against Him. I will strive to rejoice in His goodness and forgiveness that He has shown me by honoring Him by my service!
“And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:3-4)