God Avenges

People don't want to talk about this.

Nahum 1:1–5 (NKJV)

The burden against Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

God is jealous, and the LORD avenges;
The LORD avenges and is furious.
The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries,

And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

The LORD has His way
In the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
He rebukes the sea and makes it dry,
And dries up all the rivers.
Bashan and Carmel wither,
And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
The mountains quake before Him,
The hills melt,
And the earth heaves at His presence,
Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.

Imagine seeing parts of this passage emblazoned on bumper stickers. Not exactly “Smile, God loves you.” That sounds brutal, but not as brutal as lots of other things.

Our theology begins with, “God created the universe.” You can’t get away from that. You also can’t get away from, “This is the universe God chose to create.”

Many people worship a God who would have never created this universe. The real world isn’t sugar coated enough for them. They’re worshipping a figment of their imagination. As Jack Nicholson might say, “They can’t handle the truth.”

Nature shows often leave out what it looks like (and sounds like) when a carnivore catches its prey. Fish don’t scream; everything else does. Life in the wild is all about eating and being eaten. God created a universe of cause and effect that reflects His just nature. But then there’s this.

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

In Jonah, we saw the Ninevites benefitting from God’s patience. But the lesson they learned didn’t stick, and ultimate justice is inevitable—ultimately.

Those of us who were taught from infancy about God’s love, see God’s mercy and grace as all too obvious. Of course He loves us; we’ve been singing about that all our lives. How could it be anything else?

But it could be anything else. We need to see His mercy and grace against the backdrop of the real universe, not “My Little Pony.” Justice is part of the structure of reality.

Otherwise, there’d be no need for the cross.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.