Nahum – Nineveh (the sequel)
Over 100 years before this, the people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. They are now back to their old ways.
The prophet Ezekiel had just run down a list of problems still visible in a nation already in the process of being destroyed and taken into captivity. But the Lord allows him to give them one more message of hope. If they repent, they can still be spared from what looks like certain doom.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” – Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NKJV)
“Turn and live.” That’s really the message of the Gospel in its most reduced form. We must turn from our sin and receive the life that God offers through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But the alternative is not living in neutrality towards God. The alternative is not life at all, but death. This is a harsh but merciful message. This is the choice that each person faces. Here we see that God is both love and light by His very nature and in His character is no darkness at all.
Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God… – Romans 11:22 (NKJV)
By definition, mercy is something that is not guaranteed. The American Heritage Dictionary explains mercy like this:
So when it is clearly possible to get something else, and we get mercy instead – compassionate treatment, kindness, forgiveness – we tend to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Such was the relief experienced by the prophet Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem. Babylon had conquered, the city was flattened, the nation was defeated, the captivity had begun – and, tragically, it might all have been avoided. It was all their own fault and Jeremiah knew this better than anyone; he had been prophesying it all along.
But Jeremiah had also prophesied that the captivity would last seventy years. As his nation had already been promised an eternal future, he apparently figured that seventy years was, well, doable. Eternity was a lot longer.
When we consider our own difficulties and disasters, we are wise to listen to Jeremiah. He knew disaster well. This doesn’t decrease the reality of our grief. It increases our appreciation of God. When we desire Him more than anything else, His mercies will fill our hearts with hope.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I hope in Him!'”
– Lamentations 3:21-24 (NKJV)