Nahum 1 has the prophet delivering “An oracle concerning Nineveh”. Nineveh was an ancient, famous city. It was founded by the first world dictator, Nimrod. It was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and was the city that heard the preaching of Jonah a hundred years before and repented. Nahum addresses a city that has slipped back into sin, and is again ripe for judgment. Jonah may have made Ninevah famous with his preaching there, but now they are famous for a different reason – their choice to forget all Jonah taught and return to their old sinful ways.
The prophecy of Nahum shows us that God not only deals with individuals as individuals, He also deals with nations as nations. Nations will be held to account by God. We all have personal accountability before God, but there is also a larger accountability we may face. “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty”. Sin carries a price, and Nahum makes it clear than Ninevah is going to face judgment for what they have done. God gives us a chance to repent and make things right, but when we don’t, we will pay the price.
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 every man quick to repent and understanding that they can go beyond God’s patience. “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger”? It’s a rhetorical question. None of us can withstand God’s judgment. We can’t work our way around His anger. We will pay for sin.
But as is always the case, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him”. God is a God of restoration. He wants us to come back to Him and deal with our sin. That means we confess and repent, and then believe in the grace He offers freely through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. The judgment of sin will be our worst nightmare. But we don’t have to stand before God and face that music. We can be set free from the penalty by receiving the gift of grace God provided through Christ. Ninevah wasn’t getting it this time, but we can experience God’s grace by simply believing!