God’s power above the small powers
Nahum 1:1-3 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. (The Devotional Study Bible).
Extra Reading: Nahum 1: 1-9
Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? (1:6). One is tempted to ask this question: Is life fair? It rarely seems so, especially in world politics. The most vicious dictators thrive, and raw power is the key ingredient in a successful foreign policy. Weak people get trampled. As a citizen of Judah, the prophet Nahum felt the force of such injustice. His message from God concerned the greatest city of the time, Nineveh. This city, the capital of Assyria, represented raw, brutal power-“endless cruelty”, as Nahum put it (3:19). Though Nineveh was hundreds of kilometres northeast of Judah, her power dominated the Middle East. In contrast, Judah was a small, fragile state barely clinging to independence.
Judah’s sister nation to the north, Israel, had already been defeated by Assyria and carried into exile. Only God’s miraculous intervention had saved Judah on that occasion. And now, in Nahum’s time, the Assyrians had returned. They dragged off Manasseh, the king, with a hook in his nose (2 Chronicles 33:11). Judah was forced to pay tribute as a vassal state. Few people can stare into the face of such raw power and come away unimpressed. Nahum did so only because he had seen a far greater power-the power of a God whose wrath could shatter rocks. If God was angry, how could Nineveh stand? Nahum’s absolute confidence in God is underlined throughout this book. It took nerve to stand up and predict the downfall of the most powerful nation in the world. Yet, in this book, Nahum sounds intimidated. He spoke with confidence because he knew God’s character: “The Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished” (1:3). God’s anger against Nineveh had not appeared overnight. Assyria had been the dominant world power for at least 300 years. Within a few years, Nahum’s predictions came true. Nineveh did fall, never to rise again. The greatest city in the world became a pile of rubble overgrown with grass.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us as people to acknowledge you as a true God. Help us to confront injustice in our world. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
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