We’ve all heard the story of how Nineveh repented and was saved from judgment. Jonah, the reluctant prophet, swallowed by a well and brought to their shores with a word of desolation for the godless nation. This enemy of Israel receives the warning and offering of God’s mercy upon them. They fast in sackcloth and ashes, and the judgment passes! They are saved! Glory be to God in the highest! Unmatchable and merciful are His ways!
This is not unlike when Jesus came and offered salvation from sure judgment to the gentile romans that occupies and oppressed Israel at the time. Jonah ran because he did not want Nineveh saved. The many of the Jews resisted Jesus’s message because they did not want the Romans saved. Yet God is abundant in mercy. It is not His will that any should perish, but that all should have the chance to come to repentance!
However, to whom much is given, much is required. When mercy comes and stays a judgment, how much greater a punishment lays on the other end of it if that mercy is disregarded.
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10:29-31
We rarely consider Nineveh’s story past the point of Jonah’s warning. The sad truth is that many of them wasted the great gift that God had given them and forsook their own mercy by returning to their sin and selfishness. They oppressed the innocent, they broke God’s covenants, they suppressed and oppressed His people and His priest. They controlled and manipulated everyone underneath them. Their merchants and military, their politics, their oppressive government overtook and ruled over all the nations around them. The blood of the innocent cried out from the ground against them until eventually God had to step in and judge them.
God delights in mercy but mercy upon the wicked can become unjust to the innocent and when their cry becomes desperate enough, God will defend them. Therefore did the prophet Nahum record the final judgment and decree from the Lord against Nineveh, and the second outpouring of wrath was far worse then the first that was averted. Because great or God’s mercies but great also is the penalty for taking them lightly. For they come at a great cost and He will recompense.
Likewise will a final judgment come upon this word for the same reason. Such great undeserved mercy has been given at the cost of the blood of Jesus. Yet has the world still fought to suppress and oppress God’s people and the blood of the innocent still cry out to Him for deliverance. So will the judgment that He came to save them from still come, and greater will be the reckoning of it on the other side of that unappreciated mercy. In the end the wrath of God will be poured out upon the wicked. So is the fate of every ungodly nation in history. But praise God for saving the humble and repented out of them for paying the price of redemption, for sending the warnings, for speaking the truth to us, and showing us the pattern of things to come.
This world will burn because the wrath of God always comes in fire ever since the day that He promised Noah that it would no longer come by flood. So did it also for Sodam and Gamorah, Nineveh, and many others who have refused to live by His example of selflessness. Yet the more mercy He shows us the greater the judgment that is building up. So don’t take God’s mercy lightly, eventually it does run out. Just like the door of the ark in the days of Noah, the window of repentance will one day shut for all of us, and then the judgment.
Nahum’s warning of Ninivahs destruction
Justice on the wicked in defense of the innocent :
“God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” – Nahum 1:2
God‘s eyes are on the righteous in the midst if it:
“The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.” – Nahum 5-8
God fights aginst Ninivah by allowing her enemies to attack and overtake her :
“But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back…
She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness…
Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.” – Nahum 2:8, 10, 13
Their destruction is beyond comprehension, their leaders run and hide, and other nations cheer their downfall because they have oppressed and occupied others for so long. Because of their sin, selfishness, wickedness, and indifference, most outside of their walls are glad to see them fall.
“The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame….
And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?…
Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars. Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln. There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away….
Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” – Nahum 3:3-5, 7, 13-16, 18-19