Today we began reading the prophet Nahum and his “oracle concerning Nineveh”. This city and nation (Assyria) was the great power of the day before Babylon became great. Remarkably it had repented at the preaching of Jonah, and we suggest that there was still some respect of Israel’s God at that time, flowing on from the greatness of Solomon and his great grandson Asa. But the repentance of Nineveh did not last; rather, like the spiritual renewal in our own world after God’s word was printed and made widely available, basic human nature soon asserted itself again.
The oracle that Nahum received has been preserved as part of God’s word because its message of God in action is relevant for today as it would have been in the first century. “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm … The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation?” (1:3,5,6). We are concerned at the indignation God is about to show to our world.
Then the good side of the picture is stated, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (verse 7). There are comparisons in the message in today’s final chapter of James with his warnings of coming doom on Jerusalem. He was a leading spokesman for the believers there (Acts 15:13 onwards). He writes, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you … Your gold and silver have corroded … You have laid up treasure in the last days” (5:1,3).
Having money and possessions is the ‘god’ of our world today. To those remaining faithful, James advises, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord … Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand … Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job” (verses 7,8,11). As we read further in Job, we will see how his steadfastness and vision increases. While it is true that the Lord is “slow to anger” – ultimately God deals with the godless and they realise too late there is a Creator who is “great in power”. Let us be like Job and be steadfast and increase our vision, “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).