God’s Mercy Through Discipline and Judgement

January 4, 2022 | Written by Robert Eads

In the fall, we journeyed through Jonah, Amos, Hosea and Micah. And we get to continue learning from the rest of The 12 Minor Prophets in this new year. We invite you to read along with us as we wrestle with what it means for us to be God’s people today!

We are continuing to study the Minor Prophets this year because we have been called to be like them. To embrace our identity as God’s treasured possession. We are the sons and daughters of these prophets, and we have a message of good news for this world.

Robert Eads:

Nahum’s prophecy depicts what the prophet Jonah would have likely preferred to have written (Jonah 3:10-4:1). Nahum tells of the future destruction of the wicked city of Nineveh—the capital of the Assyrian empire. The two prophets, though displaced by a span of ~100 years, are nevertheless linked by the city of Nineveh.

Chapter 1 begins with a psalm praising the Lord. Nahum speaks of God’s character; that He is jealous, avenging and wrathful. Here is Jonah’s depiction of Him: “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” (Jonah 4:2b). While these statements from each of the two prophets stand in stark contrast, they are both true.

What we learn from these two prophets about God’s character is this: that God is merciful, compassionate, and slow to anger, yet He is also jealous, avenging and wrathful. These two truths should frame how we look at the book of Nahum.

“Thus says the Lord, though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.” (v. 12)

At the height of the Assyrian empire, when “they are at full strength and many,” Nahum prophesies that Nineveh will pass away. What I find more interesting than this is the last two lines of verse 12. God Himself takes credit for afflicting Israel and Judah, that it was His judgement and completely within His control. So then, this book isn’t just about God’s judgement on Nineveh, it also has to do with His judgement and discipline of His own people. Assyria was a vessel to mete out God’s discipline of Israel and Judah.

While facing oppression from the Assyrian empire, isn’t it odd that Nahum praises God for being avenging and wrathful? It seems as though Nahum sees God’s mercy to the Jewish people through His discipline and judgement, not just in coming out on the other side of it.

The Jewish people looked forward to the day when God would set them free and deliver the Messiah through the nation of Judah. We have the privilege of looking backward and knowing that the Messiah is Jesus. God offers us forgiveness for our rebellion against Him through Christ’s perfect life lived on our behalf and His death as payment for that rebellion. He rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father continually making intercession for us. Jesus takes on God’s judgement for us and through Him we can experience the relationship with God that we long for.

We currently live in a time of God’s patience. The payment for our sins can be taken by Christ when we receive Him by faith and make Him the Lord of our life, or we can choose to pay for them ourselves by rejecting Him and living according to our own standard like the Ninevites did. Christ offers forgiveness to us all, and we’re individually responsible for responding to His mercy.

Is Christ’s forgiveness of your sins and Lordship over your life compelling to you? Have you personally responded to His offer to make you a new creation?

Let me share one more thought with you. The prophet Jonah was sent to a people who did not follow the Lord, he was faithful (though reluctant) to share the message God entrusted to him and to Jonah’s surprise, they turned from their ways and to the Lord. Let Nahum be a warning to us just as it was to the Ninevites. We are all eternal beings with ultimately one of two outcomes: eternal relationship with the Father or eternal separation from Him.

Are there people in your circle of influence (family, friends, coworkers, neighbors) that do not yet know of the forgiveness that God offers to those who turn to Him? How can you begin to share with them what you have experienced in Christ?

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