"Prophetability - lessons of strength and power in the minor prophets!"
I decided to insert Nahum between Jonah and Micah because it feels like Nahum completes the story of Jonah. The prophecy of Jonah ends without sense of completion or resolve. Jonah was unhappy with God for granting mercy to the people of Nineveh. However, in Nahum God’s vengeance is pronounced. That’s right. The capital city of Assyria, the evil nation guilty of unmentionable atrocities against Israel and Judah was finally getting the judgment they “deserved” and Jonah wanted. In the very first part, Chapter 1: 1-3, the writer says; “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath.The Lord takes vengeance against his foes; he is furious with his enemies.The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm.” Later in verse 7 he writes;
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him.”
These are strong words but they are very encouraging for anyone who has ever been mistreated, wrongly accused, attacked, oppressed, or discriminated against. When have you ever felt like those who oppose you were getting away with it? What is God going to do about those who hurt you, not just once, but over and over and over again? Is He just going to let that go? NO! Nahum’s prophecy, which is not really prophetic but a collection of narrative poems about the avenging nature of God against the enemies of His people, encourages the believer to be confident that God will right the wrongs done to you. Psalm 143 can be helpful as you read the words of David when he said; “Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;I come to you for protection. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.May your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, Lord, let me live In your righteousness deliver me from trouble, and in your faithful love destroy my enemies. Wipe out all those who attack me, for I am your servant.” Hopefully this is encouraging to you but perhaps it is not reassuring to you to think that God will hurt someone on your account but that really isn’t how God’s vengeance works. There is a big difference between our vengeance and God’s vengeance. Allow me to explain…
How do you feel about vengeance on your enemies as a Christian? Is it a moral struggle for the Child of God to want God to “Wipe out all those who attack us?” As I previously mentioned, Jonah wanted vengeance on the people of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, but God wanted him to go there and preach repentance. Jonah didn’t want to do it and he fled by boat to Tarshish. Jonah wanted revenge not repentance for Nineveh. God had other plans. So, when is revenge OK for the Christian…only when God does it.
When GOD Avenges it is based on Righteousness but when WE Avenge it is often based on Retaliation. Why do we want revenge? Psychological studies suggest that “revenge increases anger (Psychologytoday.com, September 2018).” Revenge increases anger rather than decreasing it because of ruminations. When people don't get revenge, they tend to trivialize the event by telling themselves that because they didn't act on their vengeful feelings, it wasn't a big deal. In other words, wrongs are left unrectified. How does it feel when the wrongs in your life are left unrectified? How do you respond when they are? Imagine you are driving on a 2-lane road and someone rides your bumper for miles and miles then finally flies past you going about 90 only to see them pulled by the state trooper 10 miles down the road? Feels good doesn’t it? They needed to pay for being so rude to you by riding your bumper, didn’t they? It really isn’t a sin to ride someone’s bumper? So why would you be happy about them being pulled? Have you never ridden someone’s bumper? Haven’t you ever been guilty of speeding? My point is that no one but God can justly administer vengeance because everyone has sinned.
Often, I want God to punish my enemies but pray for His grace and mercy when I mistreat others. That doesn’t sound very godly. I’m thinking that if God postpones His vengeance against His enemies we DEFINITELY should. Why....to give ourselves adequate time to reflect on our own unrighteousness and repent BEFORE making a judgment about what others deserve. Nahum 1:3 reminds us that “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished.”
By our very nature, God’s vengeance is ALWAYS slower than ours. Assyria was like Nazi Germany. Their treatment of other nations was atrocious. They would ransack countries and kill women and children, drag them out in the street, and leave their bodies. God was very patient with Nineveh. How patiently would you be waiting for justice if someone mistreated your family? You would want vengeance, or at least justice, right away or else it would feel like you were saying it’s OK for them to be treated like that. Such injustice would likely infuriate you. Well, it infuriates God too.
All who suffer for the injustices done against GOD will be avenged!
This is where it pays to be a child of God! God cannot avenge the wrongs done to you on the basis of your righteousness because you are not righteous. That would be an injustice in and of itself. God can, however, avenge the wrongs done to Him, and when those wrongs affect you as His child, He has the RIGHT to avenge you!
V.7 says; “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him.” When you are attacked for loving people not “accepted” in some churches, that is an attack on God because God is love and God will avenge you against those who refuse to love. When you are attacked while doing God’s will by those who don’t recognize it is God’s will that is an attack on God and God will AVENGE YOU! How does it look when God avenges you? V.7 states; “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him.”
When God avenges you it looks good, there is strength in distress, and his care for you is made obvious. You can take Refuge in him! - Dr. Hughes
Rev. Wiley Hughes
D.Min., Psy.D., FBPPC, LPCA, NCC
Apostolic Leader of Destiny Now