Nahum 1:1-2:13; Revelation 8:1-5; Psalms 136:1-12; Proverbs 28:27-28
OT: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is fierce in wrath. The Lord takes vengeance against his foes; he is furious with his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished. His path is in the whirlwind and storm, and clouds are the dust beneath his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up, and he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither; even the flower of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him, and the hills melt; the earth trembles at his presence — the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; even rocks are shattered before him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; he cares for those who take refuge in him. But he will completely destroy Nineveh with an overwhelming flood, and he will chase his enemies into darkness. Whatever you plot against the Lord, he will bring it to complete destruction; oppression will not rise up a second time.” (Nahum 1:2-9 CSB)
Nahum lived during the reign of Judah’s kings Manasseh, Amon and Josiah. This particular prophecy was most likely written just before the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which overthrew and captured the Northern kingdom of Israel over 100 years prior. The book of Nahum primarily centers around Nahum’s prophecy of the fall of Nineveh and the end of the Assyrian empire.
The Lord God had good reason to allow the Northern kingdom of Israel to be captured and carried away by the Assyrians. However, the Assyrians were notoriously ruthless and blood thirsty, and the Lord was not about to allow their evil and cruelty to go unchecked. Even though the fall of Israel was brought about by their own unfaithfulness to God, God was still faithful to His covenant people. God is slow to anger, but He is also faithful to avenge His own. The Assyrians would soon discover the unlimited, earth-shaking power of the God of Israel as He refused to let the guilty go unpunished.
NT: “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel, with a golden incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand. The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:1-5 CSB)
Since the beginning of creation, the heavenly creatures have been proclaiming the holiness of God, day and night, night and day, non-stop… until Christ, the Lamb of God, opened the seventh and last seal that was holding the scroll of God closed. Then, at that moment, all of heaven was silent in awestruck amazement for about half and hour. Finally, the scroll was opened and God’s will was able to be fully enacted and completely fulfilled.
As long as there has been prayer on earth, God’s people have lifted up prayers to God asking for His righteousness and justice on the earth. Throughout the psalms, David and other psalmists composed psalms to the Lord asking for His vengeance on His enemies once and for all. Since Christ ascended to heaven and took His seat at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us, the saints of God in Christ have been praying to the Father for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth just as it is done in heaven. In the midst of heaven’s awestruck silence at the revealing of the fullness of God’s will, the time for those prayers to be answered will come. The time for God to avenge His saints will arrive. Though God is merciful and slow to anger, He will not allow the guilty to go unpunished forever. When in the scope of human history this event happens, we don’t fully know – but there will come a time when the fullness of the prayers of the saints will be offered up before the presence of God, and the time for God to mete out His judgement will come.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You never forget the plight of Your people. Not only are You my Savior and Lord, You are also my Avenger. I thank You that You are merciful and slow to anger, for I have benefited from Your mercy and compassion to me. But I also thank You that the unrepentant guilty will not go unpunished forever. Help me to trust in Your timetable of justice and not be tempted to take the act of avenging into my own hands, as I walk with You in faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.