Pride Goes Before Destruction
Nahum 1:2-3, 7 (ESV)
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries. 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, and the clouds are the dust of his feet… The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
What can you learn about the attributes of God in today’s verses?
Today, we are back to Nineveh, the city that repented from their sin and experienced a great revival after Jonah reluctantly prophesied their coming destruction. Because the people of Nineveh turned to God, He relented and did not punish them.
But now, over a hundred years have passed. Unfortunately, the great revival was over. Instead, there was a great return to their immoral ways. The source of their sins was their arrogance and pride. Their towering walls and their wide, deep moat made them feel invincible. They had the greatest city on earth at that time. They were strong and prosperous. They had a mighty and ruthless military. They crushed their enemies. Who did they have to fear?
Well, the prophet Nahum’s message should have led them to fear the Lord. In the book of Jonah, the great city of Nineveh had repented and was saved. But in the book Nahum, Nineveh had rebelled and was going to be sacked. Nahum predicted, around 660 B.C., that Nineveh would be completely destroyed. In chapter 1, verse 8-9, he said, “But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. What do you plot against the LORD? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time.”
We know from history that Nahum was right. In 612 B.C., the Tigris River flooded its banks and a portion of Nineveh’s great wall, their pride and safety net, was destroyed leaving them vulnerable. The Babylonians took advantage of the hole in the wall, attacked the city, and lit it on fire. “Trouble” from Assyria would never be allowed to rise up again. Assyria was utterly destroyed. As the Proverb says, “Pride goes before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). The Assyrians had put their trust in God but only temporarily. Just a few generations later, they returned to putting their trust in themselves. When everything was going well, it seemed impossible that they would ever fall. But fall they did.
In chapter 1, Nahum described some attributes of God. From today’s verses, we know that God is exceedingly patient. He is gracious and good, protecting everyone who puts their trust in Him. But He is also holy and just. He cannot tolerate sin and will not overlook evil. Like a righteous judge, He won’t clear the guilty because that would be unjust. He has to punish those who attack His people and set themselves up against Him as His enemy. Assyria had sinned against the Lord despite their second chance. Thus, Nahum predicted their punishment.
In Nahum 1:15, he said: “Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! Keep your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows, for never again shall the worthless pass through you; he is utterly cut off.” The news of Assyria’s impending downfall was good news for Judah. Without fear of Assyrian attack, the people would be free to worship. And worship they should! The Lord deserved their praise and gratitude!
In chapter 2, Nahum described, in gruesome detail, the destruction of Nineveh. Just as Nineveh had been ruthless to its enemies, so their own destruction would be ruthless. In chapter 3, Nahum further described Nineveh’s complete ruin and why they deserved it.
In a book describing such horrible suffering and carnage, you might be wondering if there is a Scarlet Thread of redemption to be found. It’s true that there are no clear prophecies about the Messiah in Nahum like there are in many of the other prophets. But I believe there is a picture of Christ in the images of judgment executed on evil. We know that when Jesus returns, He will judge the nations: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-13).
Friends, just as Judah would have perceived the destruction of Assyria to be good news, we also view Jesus’ judgment on the nations as good news because it means that our evil adversaries will be dealt with once and for all! He won’t let the guilty off the hook and trouble will not ever be able to arise again. The arrogant and the prideful who reject God to go their own way and pursue evil will be punished. But those of us who humble ourselves, repent from our sins, and run to Him as our stronghold will be eternally safe. He knows those of us who belong to Him and we can take great comfort in that.
Lord, thank You for being a God of both perfect love and perfect justice. You don’t allow the guilty to go unpunished and yet, if we humble ourselves and turn from our sin to You, we will be saved. Jesus, You took the punishment that I justly deserved. Thank You for being my stronghold. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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