Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | September 14, 2010

A Taste of the Minor Prophets: Nahum

We talk about second chances a lot.  It seems like every day we hear someone pleading that some athlete, or politician or celebrity should or should not get a second chance.

We are thankful that God also gives second chances.  As Nahum says, “The Lord is slow to anger” (1:3).  But, “The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished” (1:3).  God is love.  But God is also just, holy, and righteous.

This was a lesson learned by Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.  Dominating the Fertile Crescent for the last few centuries, the Assyrians were a brutal force.  They destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in 722.  They nearly destroyed Jerusalem under Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-37).  And they were warned.  God sent Jonah to say, “Repent or die.”  And for a time, they did.  But it didn’t last, because in the 600s BC they were still reveling in their evil ways. Now God said through Nahum, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him, but with an overwhelming flood He will make an end of Nineveh” (1:7-8) and “The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: ‘You will have no descendants to bear your name” (1:14) and “’I am against you,’” (2:13; 3:5).  In fact, the LORD did to Nineveh what He did to Pharaoh, He said, “I’ve had it.  I’m done with you.”  “Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal” (3:19).  With Jonah, God offered a second chance.  Through Nahum, God said, “No more.”  And in 612, Nineveh fell.  The Assyrian Empire was no more.

The message was not only for the Assyrians, but for the southern kingdom of Judah, and us.  God takes care of His children.  But God also punishes the unfaithful.  God IS love.  God IS also the One destroys souls and bodies in hell (Matthew 10:28).  To hear God say, “I am against you,” is the worst declaration that could be heard.  And He does say it.  He says it to those who refuse to follow in His path.  He says it to unbelievers.  God is not a chauvinist, unjustly clearing the way for His chosen people and uprooting and murdering innocent bystanders.  God is just.  He punishes sin.  He punishes sinners.  That is the warning of Nahum, the warning of God.  But it was wrapped around that message of the Messiah, “He cares for those who trust in Him” (1:7).  The LORD does what He says.  He punishes sinners.  But He loved the world so much that He punished all sinners in the person of Christ, His Son.  He restored the splendor of Jacob and Israel (2:2).  Bad news for God’s enemies.  Good news for God’s people.

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