The introduction to the Book of Nahum from an ESV Bible is as follows:
When Jonah preached repentance on the streets of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, the people responded and were spared. A century later, sometime between 663 and 612 b.c., Nahum preached in a time when Nineveh would not repent. Nineveh, which had destroyed Israel’s northern kingdom in 722, itself fell to Babylon in 612—just a few years after Nahum’s warning. The Assyrians were notorious for the brutality of their treatment of other nations. Nahum declared, however, that God is sovereign: he punishes whom he will, and they are powerless to stop him. Much of Nahum’s prophecy was directed to the people of Judah, who could rejoice at the good news (1:15) of Nineveh’s impending fall.
This is a short and sweet summary of the content of the whole Book, and it gives us an overall view of the Book of Nahum; which can also give us a better understanding of the chapter we are reading today.
Bible Passage: Nahum 2
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
Nahum 1: 3
‘The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He
by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and
Our God is a merciful God, but He is also a righteous One.
Many Christians would like to think that God’s mercy is boundless, but is it true that His mercy has no bound?
The answer is “No”, because God’s mercy is within the boundary of His righteousness as what we can understand from the verses quoted above.
Many people, including Christians, have failed to see the reasons behind all the destruction of nations done by God through His people, Israel, or through nations that did not worship Him.
This lack of understanding has inevitably led people to thinking that the God of the Old Testament was not a God of love but a God of wrath.
In today’s chapter we read of the vivid and dramatic picture of the invasion (v. 1 – 4), the battle (v. 5 – 7), the victory over the city (v. 8 – 10), and the pathetic and humiliated state of Nineveh (v. 11 – 13).
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, and they had been oppressing the people of God with brutality. So, was the defeat of Nineveh the result of the strong armies of her enemies? No, it was the Lord who had meted out judgment upon her. (ref. Isaiah 10:5 – 19)
When we look at the utter destruction of any nations by God through the hands of man or nature, they were destroyed due to their hideous sins.
For example, when God brought the Israelites out from Egypt, they destroyed the inhabitants and possessed the Canaanite lands.
This seemed like genocide, or a cruel act of God, but for about 400 years the Israelites suffered as slaves in Egypt, and that was the number of years that God endured the hideous sins the Canaanites were committing.
The Canaanite religion involved child sacrifice. The more their cities expanded, the practice of child sacrifice increased. Unlike other ancient civilizations where such practices died out, the Canaanites perpetuated it.
Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, but 100 years later, they got back to their old sinful ways of treating other nations with brutality.
God is a merciful and righteous God, He would not let the innocent suffer injustice, neither would He allow the wicked to go unpunished.
Therefore we must not think that God can’t see or not aware of what we are doing, be it good or bad. When we do wrong or bad things and thought that since we experience no punishment from God, that means God approves it or it was no big deal at all.
But remember, God is Sovereign; He has His own time, and He has His own way in His judgment. Furthermore, He may be waiting for us to repent of our wrong doings.
May we all continue to revere God as our Sovereign King, and center our lives around Him.