The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. — Nahum 1:3
I grew up in the country, and although most of our animals were raised for food, Dad occasionally let us “adopt” one of them as a pet. For a while we had a goat that was a particular favorite with my brothers and me. Barney followed us everywhere. He loved potato chips, and would come running anytime he heard the rustling of a bag. Most of the time, we were happy to share.
Unfortunately, Barney also liked fruit trees. He had a destructive habit of standing on his hind legs, in a place where he could reach the branches, and eating the new shoots and leaves. When Dad figured out what was going on, he let us know that it was our responsibility to keep our goat out of the trees. That meant we had to pay close attention to the fences surrounding the orchard, making sure they were in good repair so Barney could not get to those delectable branches.
We knew Dad was serious about this instruction, and we knew what needed to be done. However, we did not take our responsibility seriously. We really did not give the fences the attention they needed to make them secure. Consequently, Barney found ways to keep getting back to those fruit trees.
When I look back, I realize that Dad really was very patient with us. However, after we repeatedly neglected his warnings and failed to fix the fences, Dad finally took action. He was definitely “slow to anger,” but the day came when we no longer had our pet! Being kids, we pouted, but deep down we knew we were responsible for losing our pet. Dad had given us plenty of chances, and we suffered the consequences for our inaction.
Our focus verse brings out that God was “slow to anger” in response to the sins of the people of Nineveh, but the consequences of their failure to heed the warnings of the prophets was sure to come. God is patient and merciful — He gave the wicked people of Nineveh plenty of opportunities to repent and turn from their evil ways. With the kind of detailed prophesy that Nahum gave them, they were certainly alerted to impending judgment. They could not blame anyone but themselves when the prophetic destruction did, in fact, occur. They had been warned!
This Scriptural warning is not, however, exclusively for Nineveh. There is a lesson here that all of us need to heed. The Lord is slow to anger; He gives many undeserved opportunities for repentance, but He also cannot tolerate sin, and ultimately will punish the unrepentant. Having heard the message of salvation, we must act upon it and do what God tells us to do.
As we read these chapters, let us ponder God’s wrath as He avenges sin and brings about justice. And let us determine to live within His rules, commands, and guidelines for life!
Nahum was the prophet of Nineveh’s doom. Under Jonah’s reluctant preaching approximately one hundred years earlier, the Ninevites had repented, and God had withheld His wrath. However, they returned to their evil ways, and by the time of the prophet Nahum, Nineveh was again a place of unparalleled wickedness. As the most powerful nation on earth, Assyria, with its capital city of Nineveh, was a perpetrator of terrible atrocities against the cities and peoples it conquered. At God’s direction, Nahum pronounced judgment on this sinful nation.
Chapter 1 opens with the prophet’s declaration regarding God, establishing that the Lord is good, but also faithful in the administration of justice. Beginning at verse 8, the prophet delivered God’s message concerning the coming annihilation of the Assyrian Empire and the capital city of Nineveh. The point is made that this would be a religious conflict, and that Jehovah would triumph over the vile gods of the heathen nation. In the final four verses of the chapter, the consolation is given that God would rescue Judah and her conquerors would be destroyed, never to rise.
In Chapter 2, Nahum foretold the specific events that would occur in 612 B.C., when the Babylonian and Median armies overran the supposedly impregnable Nineveh. How the city would be taken, the scattering of its inhabitants, and the plundering of its resources were spelled out by the prophet in amazing and graphic detail.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Nineveh’s fall announced (1:1-15)
A. The messenger of the Judge (1:1)
B. The majesty of the Judge (1:2-8)
1. A jealous God (1:2)
2. A patient and mighty God (1:3-6)
3. A preserving God (1:7)
4. A wrathful God (1:8)
C. The message of the Judge (1:9-14)
D. The message to Judah (1:15)
II. Nineveh’s fall described (2:1-13)
A. The declaration of warning (2:1-2)
B. The description of the invasion (2:3-5)
C. The doom of the city (2:6-10)
1. The entrance into the city (2:6)
2. The distress of the city (2:7)
3. The retreat from the city (2:8)
4. The plunder of the city (2:9-10)
D. The destruction of the city (2:11-13)
Although God is slow to anger, He will not acquit the wicked. As evidenced by Nahum’s description of the destruction of Assyria, when judgment does take place, the unrighteous will have no excuse.