TWIST IN THE TALE
After establishing God’s power, Nahum does a marvelous and startling turn. Suddenly, he describes God’s goodness!
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.
Let’s carefully read through this verse.
Nahum is warning the Ninevites about an impending day of judgment! He seems to indicate that trouble will soon come raging. But he quickly assures them that there is hope for those who trust in Him. The escape plan is available for the taking.
Wait a minute. Let’s backtrack just a wee bit to verse 3. It says, ‘the Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked’.
Now, doesn’t that go completely against the promise in verse 7? Verse 3 guarantees that God won’t let the wicked off AT ALL. So, how can verse 7 in the next breath provide a breather?
WILL HE OR WILL HE NOT?
Many people assume that God DOES NOT FORGIVE the sinner. They back it up with Exodus 23:7 which says, ‘Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.’ The Tamil version reads as, ‘I will never declare a sinner as righteous’. The sinner’s fate appears to be doomed!
But when we read the Bible right from the beginning, the underlying theme seems to be a whisper of God’s redeeming love. In the Old Testament, God instituted the practice of animal sacrifice to reflect His forgiveness. When a man brought an animal, sacrificed it and confessed his sins, the sins were symbolically cast on the animal. The shed blood and the ashes of the burnt offering testified God’s forgiveness. The man could now go home relieved that he didn’t have to die for his sins; instead God’s fury over his sins was satisfied at the altar. That innocent animal represented the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Many centuries later, Jesus would hang on the Cross and be scorched by the punishment for our sins! The animals that were sacrificed in the past couldn’t save everyone. But Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection offers salvation to the whole of mankind.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, ‘For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ This was the grand scheme of Salvation.
Therefore, in light of this we can understand that when Nahum 1:3 says that God won’t simply acquit the sinner, it means that He won’t simply declare the sinner righteous. It must be done legally and properly. Our sins must be punished. That punishment implies death. But the loving God punished His Son for our sins. So when we believe and acknowledge this truth, we are properly and legally acquitted. Then, we are made righteous.
Paul echoes this in Philippians 3:9 when he says, ‘and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.’ Similarly, Jeremiah 23:6 says, ‘In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.’ Yet again, Isaiah in chapter 53:4, 5 prophesied about 800 years before Jesus’ birth, ‘Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed’.
We who were condemned convicts have through Jesus been acquitted and declared righteous. No greater love story exists!
…to be continued…