The Judgements of a Merciful God

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“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. The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, and the flower of Lebanon wilts. The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it. 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 1:2-8

a. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: Nahum begins his prophecy by considering the character of the God who brings judgment.

· God is jealous: How can it be said that God is jealous? “God’s jealousy is love in action. He refuses to share the human heart with any rival, not because He is selfish and wants us all for Himself, but because He knows that upon that loyalty to Him depends our very moral life . . . God is not jealous of us: He is jealous for us.” (Redpath in Law and Liberty)

· The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries: Man needs to understand that he can’t fight against God and hope to prevail. Everyone who sets themselves against God will end up receiving His vengeance.

· The Lord is slow to anger: God is far more patient than man. Though there is a time and place where He does display His anger, it doesn’t come quickly or capriciously. “God’s sword of justice is in its scabbard: not rusted in it – it can be easily withdrawn – but held there by that hand that presses it back into its sheath, crying, ‘Sleep, O sword, sleep; for I will have mercy upon sinners, and will forgive their transgressions.’” (Spurgeon)

· And great in power: Knowing God’s power should make us trust in His help (because He is able to help) and to fear His judgment (knowing that He judges with power).

· Will not at all acquit the wicked: God is not like an unjust judge who simply lets the guilty go out of a false sense of compassion. We can’t just figure that God will say, “Let’s let bygones be bygones” when we get to heaven. Sin must be accounted for, because He will not acquit the wicked. Every sin will be paid for – either in hell or at the cross – but God will not acquit the wicked. “Never once has he pardoned an unpunished sin; not in all the years of the Most High, not in all the days of his right hand, has he once blotted out sin without punishment.” (Spurgeon)

· The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm: God’s power is so great that it controls the mightiest forces known to man. A huge whirlwind or storm is nothing to God, because He has His way in them.

· His fury is poured out like fire: When God is resisted long enough and rejected strongly enough, eventually His judgment comes. He is slow to anger, but when it does come His fury is poured out like fire. Understanding this should make man quick to repent and wary of presuming on God’s patience.

· The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble: Those who love Him and trust Him see the goodness of God, and find protection in His stronghold – which is the Lord Himself. “Remember that it is only a day; it is not a week, nor a month, and God will not permit the devil to add an extra hour to that day; it is a ‘day of trouble.’ There is an end to all our griefs.” (Spurgeon)

· He knows those who trust in Him: Not only does He know them in the sense of identification, but also in the sense of relationship. Trust implies relationship, and God knows those who trust in Him. “Once more, dear friends, this word ‘know’ here means loving communion . . . God knows us; he knows our prayers and tears, he knows our wishes, he knows that we are not what we want to be, but he knows what we do desire to be. He knows our aspirations, our sighs, our groans, our secret longings, our own chastenings of spirit when we fail; he has entered into it all. He says, ‘Yes, dear child, I know all about you; I have been with you when you thought you were alone. I have read what you could not read, the secrets of your own heart that you could not decipher I have known them all, and I still know them.’” (Spurgeon)

b. How important it is to know that the Lord is good!

· God is good in His very being – it is His very nature to be good
· God is good independently – no one must help Him be good
· God is eternally and unchangeably good
· God is good in each one of His Divine Persons
· God is good in all His acts of grace
· God is good in all His plans and purposes for our life

c. With an overflowing flood He will make an utter end of its place: Taking into account the character of God, though His slow to anger and good, He cannot forever overlook the sin and rebellion of the Assyrians. Their end in judgment will come like an overflowing flood.

i. The overflowing flood was fulfilled both figuratively and literally. “According to secular accounts, during the final siege of Nineveh by a rebel army of Persians, Medes, Arabians, and Babylonians, unusually heavy rains caused the rivers to flood and to undermine the city’s walls, which then collapsed . . . the invading armies entered the city through this breach in its defenses.” (Boice)

ii. The utter end of its place was also literally fulfilled. “Not only were these people lost from history, even the city was lost until it was discovered by archaeologists, beginning in the 1840’s.” (Boice)

iii. “The author is not expressing some personal feeling of vindication over some hurt by the oppressor, nor even a nationalistic chauvinism that pagan nations must be punished. Rather, Yahweh is applying his universal standard against evil, no matter who is responsible.” (Baker)

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