Anger


The reading of the 12 minor prophets in the Bible is like fasting. Either neglected or without intention for fulfilment. I have heard preachers and teachers speaking from Hosea, Joel, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi, definitely Jonah; my youth pastor spoke from Habakkuk not long ago but almost never from Nahum, probably the least in the already underestimated volume of 12.

The first chapter of Nahum introduces God’s intense anger with such immediacy,

A jealous and avenging God is the Lord,

    the Lord is avenging and wrathful;

 the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries

    and rages against his enemies. (Nahum 1:2)

Anger is not a favourable topic to begin a 21-day fast. Yet the prophet with the same immediacy paints the complete picture of God who is immensely patient, averse to being angry,

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power,

   and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. (Nahum 1:3)

God’s patience does not imply he condones evil when it happens and his impotence to act against injustices. God is “slow to anger”. He warns, reproves and offers generous time for repentance for “Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.” (Jonah 3:9)

Nineveh is the city weaving together the books of Jonah and Nahum. We see Nineveh’s repentance in the former, and God did “relent and… turn from his fierce anger”. A century later, the city returned to unimaginable atrocities, bringing upon its destruction, as prophesied by Nahum. The emergence of Nineveh was recorded as early as Genesis 10, and at the great height of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh was an impregnable fortress with an advanced water supply. The security of their fortification and the sufficiency of liquid access were the pride of the Assyrians. This pride became the breach for the conquerors. In 612 BC, Nineveh fell. In the severity of God’s indignation, anger and wrath (v6), the goodness of God does not cease to exist for

The Lord is good,

    a stronghold on a day of trouble;

 he protects those who take refuge in him (Nahum 1:7)

Why “a jealous and avenging God”? God is jealous when his beloved people call to worship him strays. God is jealous when his relentless pursuit of salvation for all creation is opposed. God is not jealous of the magnitude of Nineveh’s greatness, but when god-like thrones and empires critically threaten God’s people and pursuit in their lives or world, these thrones and empires become God’s enemies, and he assumes the role of the avenger.

Nahum 1 closes with the comfort of good news the messenger brings to God’s people. The good news of release, recovery and renewal. Once again, we can be revived in renewing our celebrations and promises we have made (v15). Today, we have foretasted the fullness of God’s kingdom for Christ the ultimate messenger has proclaimed 

…release to the captives

    and recovery of sight to the blind,

      to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18)


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