A Terrible "Woe"
Gracious God, I affirm that my salvation is Your gift from beginning to end. You chose me and redeemed me.
Read Nahum 3:1-19
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“… When some Christian leaders speak out on a “hot button” issue, their words can be so vague that, when all is said and done, nothing has been said or done” (Tony Campolo). That’s food for thought!
Nahum’s prophecy now directly addresses the terrible judgment that will fall upon Nineveh, the “city of blood” (1) that caused so much bloodshed. “Woe” is both a lament for the dead and a warning of judgment to come. It was used by Old Testament prophets (Jer. 13:25) in pronouncing God’s judgment, and by Jesus in speaking “woe” to the hypocritical teachers of the Law (Matt. 23:29-39).
Nineveh will receive God’s just punishment. Her “wanton lust” (4) is likely a reference to her idolatry, a sin into which she led other nations. Such great evil cannot go unpunished forever. God mercifully delayed his judgment when Nineveh responded to Jonah’s message (Jonah 4), but the nation soon slipped back into its old ways again. “I am against you” (5) said the Lord. That should have been enough to make every knee in Nineveh tremble with fear. When God is “for” us, no one can be against us (Rom. 8:31); but if God is against us, there’s no hope! Judgment is coming.
And what a terrible judgment this will be! Merciless Nineveh will be shown no mercy. She will be utterly humiliated (7), made an example and a spectacle (8). The language used to describe her punishment is as strong as any in Scripture. This proud, military power will be completely vulnerable and defenseless against God’s anger (12,13). The world will have the last laugh (“clap his hands”) as Nineveh receives recompense for her “endless cruelty” (19).
Nahum paints an unrelentingly dark picture, but for anyone living in an age of and among situations of great evil, it’s a welcome reminder that God does take evil seriously, and will punish it. His judgment, like his mercy, is always just and right.
What personal responsibility do you have in giving warnings to our nation today? What would this warning look like to you and others?
Father, sometimes I feel I have been born and raised a devout coward. I pray for inner strength that I may make courageous stands for You.
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